Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara

Seven years ago, Kaylin left the fief of Nightshade with various demons at her back, vowing never to return. Since then, she has made it into the ranks of the Hawks - one of the three branches of peacekeepers in Elantra including the Wolves, Hawks and the Swords. She's worked hard to get where she is, overcoming a rough childhood where she lived on the brink of poverty, scrounging to make a life for herself. These fiefs are areas full of old magic that don't really come under any government jurisdiction and it shows as crime is rampant. But she's moved past all that (or so she thinks) when Kaylin's boss gives her a new assignment, asking her to investigate a recent murder in the fiefs along with - surprise, surprise - her childhood friend Severn who she doesn't exactly have fond memories of. The murders throw her back into the horrors of her past as the killings mirror those that occurred seven years ago and above all seem directly connected to Kaylin. Kaylin is determined to stop the murders this time around and with Severn and a Dragon at her back she is prepared to unravel the mystery no matter what the cost to herself.

So much happens in this 400+ page book but not always what I wanted to hear about. I found myself confused about several points in this book. For the first 100 pages or so, I was just confused. I had absolutely no clue what was going on most of the time - so much history, the different races - it was a lot to take in. It got better, but I was still floundering for the rest of the book. Most of the time I left a scene only understanding a piece of what just occurred. But that's not to say Sagara's world building isn't extremely impressive. Elantra is composed of six races: humans, Aerians, Dragons, Barrani, Leontine, and the creepy Tha'alani. Each has it's own complicated set of customs and caste system that I, for one, would have loved to learn more about. And I wish I knew more about Kaylin's early years spent with the Hawks and Severn's time spent with the Shadow Wolves. I know this book is intended to be the first in a series but I really wanted MORE. There were also a few inconsistencies that stood out a little too much: like the fact that even though Kaylin was raised on the streets she refers to herself at one point as a spoiled brat. Huh. I didn't know street urchins qualified as spoiled brats. But Kaylin herself is wonderful. She does what it takes to get the job done and I can't but help love her for that.

reading order:
~ Cast in Shadow
~ Cast in Courtlight
~ Cast in Secret
~ Cast in Fury

Summer Reading Blitz update: 7/30

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