Title / A Tale of Stars and Shadow
Author / Lisa Cassidy
Series / A Tale of Stars and Shadow
Star Rating / ★★★★
A Tale of Stars & Shadow is the first book in the series of the same name by Australian author Lisa Cassidy. It is a dual perspective story following Talyn Dynan and Shadowhawk. Talyn, a Dumnorix princess and trained warrior, is sent on a mission away from her home to the mysterious land of the winged folk, Mithranar. Her mission is to protect the third prince of the winged folk, Prince Cuinn. Shadowhawk is a vigilante and desperate to help the human population of Mithranar, who the winged folk see as inferior beings. It was a finalist in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) 2019, which is an annual literary contest run by the fantasy author, Mark Lawrence. To avoid spoilers, I will not be discussing the plot in any detail.
The world of this series is split into four places: Twin Thrones, Mithranar, Firthland and Montagn. This book mainly takes place in Mithranar, although it starts the series in Twin Thrones. Cassidy does a great job at introducing us to this world without ever info-dumping or dragging down the plot. Mithranar is an intriguing place and the divide between the human population and the winged folk plays a key role in the story. The book takes place mostly between Dock City, where the human population live, and the great raised citadel, where the winged folk live. Politics plays an important part of this world too and it was interesting to see where the power lies in this society. The world is a vivid one and you will quickly become immersed in it. One thing I will say though is that the magic system is little under-explained in this first book, but it is explored more in the next books in the series. I can’t wait to see more of it in future books.
This book introduces the reader to a fantastic cast of characters. Talyn and Shadowhawk are the focal point of the story, but there are a lot of other characters that play key roles in the plot. Talyn is an interesting protagonist. We find out early on that her partner died and she is still struggling to deal with her grief, roughly a year after her death. I think Cassidy has done a fantastic job at expressing how grief can affect people and showcases how things might seem OK on the outside, but on the inside Talyn feels broken. Shadowhawk is the second perspective and he is shrouded in mystery, very few people have seen his face. All the characters are well written, with interesting back stories and distinct voices. One of the highlights of this book was the interactions between Talyn and her team. The development of their relationships is so well done, and I loved seeing it all unfold. In many ways they are an unlikely team of people, but they end up working so well together. If you enjoy fantasy with a great cast of characters, then this is definitely a book you should check out.
While this first instalment does start out a little slow, after a couple of chapters I was fully invested in the story and the characters. Once I was invested, I didn’t want to put the book down. Cassidy does a fantastic job at weaving all the plot lines together and building the tension throughout the book. Layers of intrigue are continually added to the plot and the pacing is so well done. This first instalment ends on a bit of a plot twist which will make you want to pick up the second book soon after. The writing is great, and I found it so easy to settle into the flow of the writing and story. Cassidy is also great at writing action scenes and is able to clearly showcase that Talyn is a highly capable fighter. After finishing this book, I started reading the second book straight away, which should tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book.
Overall, this was a fantastic book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. This first book introduces you to an amazing cast of characters, an interesting world and contains a compelling story. The series continues with A Prince of Song and Shade (book 2) and A King of Mask and Magic (book 3), both of which are also fantastic. If you are looking for a new fantasy series to start, then I highly recommend checking this one out. I cannot wait to get my hands on the fourth book. As of writing this review, there is no title, cover or release date for the fourth instalment. Have you guys read this book? Lets chat in the comments. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.