4 out of 4 stars
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When a teenager, who barely survives by stealing, finds a unique tool that will enable her to do many things, what do you think will be her first wish? Mark O'Dell's The Shade of Highfall is a fantasy novel that discusses friendship, betrayal, horror, and adventure. The storyline is centered around the protagonist, Shrew (a fourteen-year-old orphan). She is known to be a low-class citizen of Sillaesia.
The book is divided into four parts with many chapters. Part One introduces us to Shrew’s experiences as a slave, finding an ancient dagger, her encounter with Waylan, and freedom. It also tells of the priests who had come to bring darkness upon the world. In Part Two, the author talks about the Silent Knife’s order, Shrew’s membership, and their activities to prevent impending danger. It further reveals the progress of the priests and the Black Blood in summoning the Master of Shades. Shrew’s adventure in Qinestra, the land of the gods, was discussed in Part Three. In the final part, the Silent Knife will meet with the Black Blood at Everdim. What do you propose will happen next? Read this book to find out how it all ended.
The presence of maps was like an invitation by the author to join his imagination. The maps made the book seemed realistic. At a point, it felt like I was reading a historical novel. Another interesting thing about the book is its characterization. I admired the characters of Dardalloy, Waylan, Wilf, and Lady Melowyn. All these minor characters played more than one role in Shrew’s adventurous experiences in the city of Highfall, the capital of Sillaesia. For instance, Waylan was Shrew’s captor, savior, teacher, associate, and lastly, her aide. I love the concept of killing two birds with one stone. That will make it easier for readers to understand the storyline since few characters have many roles.
I enjoyed the structuring of this book. Even though the author explained each part of the book chronologically, he ensured the plot was suspenseful. My curiosity to find out how the spirit lady, Tirriel, was trapped in the dagger was one of the things that kept me reading right till the end. Also, the flashback techniques were explicitly utilized. I enjoyed how the author used this concept to link the four parts of the book. This was expressed when Shrew explained her ordeals during her first three years in Middle Reach and her experiences in Quinestra. There is nothing to dislike about the book. Therefore, I am rating it 4 out of 4 stars because of its excellent characterization and chronological structuring.
Shrew is my favorite character. I love her fearlessness, learning abilities, adaptability, and courage. Also, the tales are full of humor. Shrew’s impersonation as the son of a rich man was well crafted. However, When Matron found out that Shrew was a girl, I could not help but imagine the looks on the faces of those she deceived. Also, the means through which Shrew outsmarted Boil and Cutter in one of the scenes were hilarious.
The author’s writing skill was excellent. Despite its settings, the diction was simple to understand. The book is well edited because I noticed only a few grammatical errors. I highly recommend this book to lovers of picaresque adventure novels. Also, the book will appeal to lovers of fantasy thrillers. On a final note, I enjoyed every bit of my reading.
The Shade of Highfall
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