Sora and her gemina Daemon are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.
When Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group.Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.
🌸 Maybe 15+? I wouldn’t really recommend anyone to read it though, because I wasn’t a fan. It mentions things like rape more casually and without the weight I think it deserves, so that’s also good to note?
This book befuddles me.
Despite the fact that it is extremely dull and boring and mediocre, the cultural elements in this book confused me.
I really enjoyed Skye’s debut series–The Crown’s Game–a Russian inspired fantasy with really lush storytelling and a lighter, fluffier fantasy world and story. It was full of lush descriptions and vivid imagery and maybe not as much substance as it should have had, but enough that it was entertaining.
And compared to The Crown’s Game, Circle of Shadows is a flop.
I looked into it a bit, and Skye has a B.A. in Russian history, which, along with other parts of her childhood, is cited as where her inspiration for The Crown’s Game came from. The Russian influences in the story are pretty strong and woven in.
UPDATE 2/3/2019: Someone asked Skye, and she mentioned how it is
“not based off Japan, but rather a made up country and culture. I imagine it not as an ethnically singular place, but a kingdom where lineage is mixed. The races are not specific to our world, because it’s a different world altogether.
However, the landscape and food are Japanese inspired, although not Japanese, if that makes sense.”Evelyn Skye
So, I’m removing the following portion of my review as it’s not actually Japanese-inspired. I personally find this sort of “ethnically singular race” idea a problematic concept because of white defaults among other things, but this is a discussion for another time and I will leave that decision up to you.
Nonetheless, I still think Skye was very lacking in both development of the world and the characters’ physical descriptions, and this especially is something that can lead to a white default since there are still no other hair colors besides black, platinum/blonde, and the single blue in the book. (I looked up every instance of hair in the book and this was it.)
As for the actual writing and story, I found it to be pretty underdeveloped and bland?
The magic was not nearly as well thought out as The Crown’s Game, some of the logistics (the scene with the mirrors) just do not make scientific sense, and the world was very loosely built and we kept getting told about these ~other countries~ who we never got to saw or understand who they were, except that they were bigger and Kichona was isolated.
So the worldbuilding was not great (this also ties into the whole Japanese-inspiration thing), and I also thought the character development was mediocre?
I mean, Sora and Daemon were pretty bland and I didn’t really get to understand their motivations. Like, apparently they’re troublemakers and yet Sora kind of just flips a switch and wants to be the greatest taiga of all time after one scene?
The change felt abrupt and I don’t believe Skye delved nearly as far enough into their motivations and character arcs as she needed to.
Plus the romance between Sora and Daemon was very…obvious but not? Daemon gets these narration lines where he’s supposed to be VERY obvious about liking Sora and it just wasn’t subtle enough for my taste.
Yet, Sora literally NEVER acknowledges this until the very end where [scene that doesn’t make sense because WHY would he do that] happens.
So the romance was also a bit confusing/blah.
And the family relationship (which I can’t go into because of spoilers) was also underdeveloped in my opinion and needed a lot more work other than just ultimatums and reminiscing on the past.
It wasn’t like the plot was bad, but it just wasn’t good either. It felt very uninspired and done-before. (I also guessed one of the plot twists the second time the character was introduced (which was around the 100 page mark).)
So overall, I found this to range from mediocre to not great and was really disappointing after I loved the author’s debut.
If you want a Japanese inspired novel, I’d suggest checking out Shadow of the Fox or Empress of All Seasons for superior storytelling and cultural elements.
Thank you so much to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for provding me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!