Imagine this: you’re taking a walk along the beach. You can feel the sun on your face, and you can hear the waves splashing against the coast. You glance down, and realize you aren’t making a shadow on the ground. You are Shadowless. What does that mean?
The characters in this book each go through this revelatory situation over and over and over. This book tells the story through points of view of at least 8 different Shadowless individuals. They each learn somehow why they are Shadowless: they were born of gods and humans.
The mythology of this book is so unique, and so well-told, that I was hooked from the prologue on. I got a little confused at the first change of POV, because this seems more a series of short stories than a book.
I assure you, it all makes sense eventually.
Content warning: this book mentions rape several times, but doesn’t go into details.
I have so many good things I want to say about this book, but I’m going to start with the mythology. It was so unique, and wonderfully told!
Millenia ago, the gods and goddesses got into a civil war, resulting in multiple gods’ lives being lost, and all the goddesses being slaughtered. This wasn’t a smart move on the part of the gods, because they bad no way to pass on their power, or grow more powerful.
As narcissistic and evil as these gods are, power is all that matters to them. So they came up with a solution: impregnate mortal women, pass along a little power to the resulting offspring, and kill the child when he or she has matured enough to make the investment of power worth it.
This book starts with Arpherius, one of these shadowless offspring. He has no idea who he is, or what he is capable of, but one day discovers that while everything around him leaves a shadow, he doesn’t. This discovery leads to Arpherius learning about his heritage, and about the danger he faces.
Ok, are you hooked yet? Because this is only the beginning. Each chapter follows a different shadow-less demi-God, so while this constant switch in points of view got confusing at first, I caught on pretty quick and was able to keep up.
Another thing that can get confusing is once the storylines start converging, they switch between timelines. So while one chapter could be 400 years in the future, the next chapter could be set 700 years in the past. For me, I was surprisingly able to keep track, mostly due to the author’s ability to spin a tale.
I’m not sure where this author, Randall McNally, was able to think of this story, and create this world, but he does such a good job, that this has easily made my list of top 10 favorite books of this year. I’m so happy I was able to read it, and I will likely re-read it at some point. If you’re interested in getting to know Randall a little better, please visit my Meet The Author interview with him.
This book is dark fantasy, so while some of the characters have redeeming qualities, the setting is not a happy setting. This book has death, and fear, and despondency, but it has hope as well. And I hope that feeling translates to you as well as it did me. This is not a “happy” book, but it is well-written, and is enjoyable enough that I highly recommend it.
Each character is built up enough that you root for and despise them each in equal measure.
I honestly had a hard time finding anything negative to say about this book. Yes, it was confusing at first, but things cleared up and I felt like I had a good grasp on what was going on when I needed to. It was a slow read for me, as well, but not because I wasn’t enjoying it. Shadowless is 499 pages long. For a fantasy book, that’s a pretty good amount of pages.
The author keeps the action going through introduction of new characters, which is a way of storytelling I haven’t run into before. Most books will introduce the characters, then move the story forward. This author doesn’t do that. I would be reading one character’s story, and come across something that I would be like, “ok, now that part in that other chapter makes sense.” And let me tell you, I saw a twist a little over halfway through, that I seriously told myself, “ok, that was a good one.”
It’s so dark, and gritty. Which is a perfect description of this book. I’ve said before, this was not a happy book. I believe the god on the cover is Kröm, the god of the sea. All of the gods are a-holes, but Kröm is one of the worst ones.
I really hope you take a chance on this book, even if it’s not in your preferred genres. It was really good, and I can’t say enough about it! I’ve been posting teasers constantly on Twitter, because of how much I’ve been enjoying this book. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, please visit my Shop, to see all the books available in my Affiliate section, or click the book cover image to get directed to Amazon UK. Affiliate sales through this site are from Amazon, and afford me a small commission, without extra cost to you.
If you enjoyed this review, please share with your friends, and don’t forget to subscribe! Until next time, bookworms!