3 out of 4 stars
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In Shadow’s Voice, written by Natalie Johanson, Rose, a mage with mysterious powers to work and manipulate shadow, has been running for most of her adult life – mostly from her father who wishes to use her skills to his ends but also from a life that she hates. Working a job in a small town where she has remained for several weeks, her past catches up with her when one of her father’s men finds her. Rose kills the man and disappears into the woods, traveling away from the town as fast as she can until exhaustion finally overtakes her. She falls asleep only to be awakened by Nico, a man she had briefly met the night before. Rose discovers that Nico can read a person’s memories by a simple touch, and he had learned many of her secrets when he woke her. Nico has secrets of his own and is running from trackers who want to kill him.
The trackers find them while Nico is alone. In the fight that ensues, he receives a mortal wound. Rose arrives and stops the attack, but it is too late for Nico. Before he dies, he passes a memory to her and gains her promise to carry the information to King Micah.
Johanson has created a well-crafted world where the majority of the people shun magic. The characterization in Shadow’s Voice is excellent. Johanson has done an excellent job with Rose, the main character, unobtrusively dribbling just enough history to give the reader an understanding of Rose’s background so that we sympathize with her fears and her reasons for secrecy
The twists at the conclusion of Shadow’s Voice provide a couple of interesting surprises. I liked Rose and the strength she shows with strong survival instincts and an ability to hold secrets while still earning the trust of those around her. For me, the fact that magic in the story has limitations, and Rose only has inklings of the extent of her ability and her limitations, allowed the story became more believable and thus more enjoyable. I liked the relationship that developed between Rose, King Micah, and Captain Sayla, head of the Light Horse.
I found little to dislike in Shadow’s Voice, though I had a bit of an issue that the king seemed to lack the strength I would expect in a leader. He felt too easy-going and too trusting, especially considering the threats he faced.
The editing is okay, had it been better, I probably would have ranked this story higher. As is, I rate it a high 3 out of 4. I would recommend Shadow’s Voice to anyone who enjoys a great adventure and especially to fans of fantasy fiction or those who revel in stories where a female is the champion.
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