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Be sure to mark your calendars for the upcoming Seven Days for Sevenwaters feature hosted by the wonderfully talented Holly of Book Harbinger. She's got some incredible guest posts lined up -- including one from Juliet Marillier herself -- (and one from coughcough yours truly) that you won't want to miss!

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Dealing the worst kind abandonment a girl could ever have to face, Neryn has become a wanderer. Unable to return to her home village for years now -- a place filled with so many memories of death and pain she'd hardly be able to return even if it was safe -- or to settle down anyplace new in Alban, Neryn decides to set off for the mythical haven known only in whispers as Shadowfell. A place where one such as herself, a girl with the uncanny ability of communicating with the Good Folk, could finally find peace and safety from the merciless hunting of the King's men.

Though most people she meets along her way are too scared of King Keldec's wrath to help a stray girl, Neryn does encounter a select few who secretly offer her a meal or a slight kindness. Including a dark stranger called Flint, who after saving her life, Neryn cannot seem to shake from dogging her very footsteps. Along with her strangely persistent savior, the Good Folk become more and more bold with Neryn, hinting that ahead of her lies a great work and that she must be ready when the time comes. Fearful of accepting aid from either set of her new companions, Neryn swiftly comes to learn her part in the struggle to free Alban will be great and to succeed, she's going to need all the help she can get. But she just has to make it to Shadowfell first.

As soon as I put down this book I immediately flipped back to the beginning without hesitation, set on rereading the entire thing again right then and there. It's been awhile since I've had a Juliet Marillier book captivate me as much as Shadowfell did. And as always for me with her books, its the characters that are the true standouts in this story. I've seen that some readers have been put off by Neryn's wanderings but can I say how utterly opposite I felt regarding that solitary time? Such introspection is always welcome and Marillier proves once again that she has a deft hand when it comes to portraying young women figuring out how to become strong, brave and capable. That said, I adored the back and forth exchanges between Neryn and Flint too. Their slow, tender friendship was beautifully developed with plenty of secrets hinted at to keep things interesting. Likewise, Marillier's depictions of the Good Folk and their mythology never failed to delight. I so loved the glimpses of their individual personalities and their varying reactions to Neryn.

Admittedly, I was a wee bit happy to find Shadowfell a bit more...mature...than her previous YA novels, books I truly enjoyed but never really fell for. Shadowfell in contrast has everything I like about her adult fantasy novels, complicated heroines setting out on a seemingly hopeless quest aided by unexpected companions (and usually a good solid --and handsome-- hero) and the fickle Good Folk. Though there is also a definite shadow of darkness over this book which underscores the necessity and danger of Neryn's task. And makes for some compelling sequences I tell you what. I could not help holding my breath each time Neryn came thisclose to disaster. Shadowfell is the latest in a long line of beloved Marillier books and, I am extremely happy to report, the first in a new series. Because there's no such thing as too much Juliet Marillier.

Shadowfell is due out September 11, 2012.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
A Rogue Librarian's Reading List review
Book Harbinger review
Cuddlebuggery review
Raiding Bookshelves review
Read. Breathe. Relax. review

book source: NetGalley