Review: Shadowcry

Review: ShadowcryShadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw
Series: Wintercraft #1
Published by Greenwillow on June 21, 2011
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

The Night of Souls—when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest—is only days away.

Albion is at war . . . and losing.

The wardens have descended, kidnapping innocent citizens for their army, but looking for one in particular.

And fifteen-year-old Kate Winters has just raised a blackbird from the dead.

As her home is torn apart by the wardens, Kate's discovery that she is one of the Skilled—the rare people who can cross the veil between life and death—makes her the most hunted person in all of Albion. Only she can unlock the secrets of Wintercraft, the ancient book of dangerous knowledge. Captured and taken to the graveyard city of Fume—with its secret tunnels and underground villages, and where her own parents met their deaths ten years ago—Kate must harness her extraordinary powers to save herself, her country, and the two men she cares for most. And she'll make a pact with a murderer to do it.

Those who wish to see the dark, be ready to pay your price.

First Sentence: “At the southern edge of a moonlit city, a woman stood over an open grave.”

Jenna Burtenshaw’s Shadowcry has been on my radar for quite some time, ever since a friend read it and loved it. With a review copy of book three in hand, I’ve embarked on the full series, always a risky venture, yet one that I can’t resist. Obviously, I have will power issues. Shadowcry stands unique from the bulk of young adult fiction, but, thus far, isn’t the ideal read for me personally.

As I say over and over again, what really makes me interested in a book are the characters. Whether I love them or not, I almost always need to connect to them in some way, to feel that they’re in some measure real to really get involved in the book. World building and writing for their own sake get me only so far. Shadowcry definitely focuses more on those aspects than on character, so I had a lot of trouble maintaining interest, even though, objectively, I can appreciate a lot of what Burtenshaw has done here.

Shadowcry starts dramatically with Kate and her uncle Artemis preparing to flee before the Wardens, the men who killed her mother and father, arrive in town. They do not make it out of the bookshop Artemis owns in time however. Blackbirds, the precursors to the Wardens, have arrived, pecking madly and dying on the streets. The scene is eerie and horrifying.

The Wardens are looking for the Skilled, people with the ability to bridge the veil, the space between life and death. If one of these dead birds is touched by someone Skilled, the bird will return to life. In the process of rescuing Ethan, who works for Artemis, from the barrage of dying birds, Kate touches one and it comes back to life in her hands. The blackbird flaps up the chimney, alerting Silas, the head collector of the Skilled to her existence.

Kate and Ethan are on the run, pursued by Silas. They don’t know who to trust, and have no idea what they can do. The concept of the Skilled is fascinating, and I like the complex nature of Silas’ character. He is not entirely good or evil, and not entirely human either. Kate is a great heroine, too, full of fire and strength. She never crumples in the face of adversity, and constantly tries to rescue Ethan and Artemis. There’s a definite sense in the book that the female characters are the strongest ones and that’s awesome. Also, I know some folks are really sick of books dominated by romance, so, just fyi, there’s absolutely no romance in Shadowcry.

Despite all that good stuff, my main reaction to Shadowcry was boredom. Since there wasn’t any focus on character development really, I just wasn’t all that engaged. Before I can care much about the world or the dramatic events, I need to care about the characters.

So far, the Wintercraft series has not proved the ideal read for me. I do think Shadowcry is a good book, but just not what I was hoping for or what works for me personally.

Favorite Quote: Didn’t have one

24 responses to “Review: Shadowcry”

  1. AnimeJune says:

    I’m the same way – I need characters who make sense. I hate reading literary or science fiction where the characters are clearly cyphers there to move the plot in the expected direction.

    Of course, I do love interesting ideas and worlds and themes, etc., but it’ll never be a truly memorable book without characters I can invested time and and emotion on.

  2. fakesteph says:

    This sounds good, but I’m with you–characters make a book for me!

  3. Amy says:

    This sounds interesting, but I am a character reader, so if they are lacking I won’t enjoy the book as much. Bonus points for no romance. It’s a refreshing change. I hope that the rest of the series works a little better for you and there is more character development. Great review!!

  4. Soma Rostam says:

    Well, the idea of this book is really intriguing
    But its disappointing that you didn’t llike it
    Your reader,

  5. Dana says:

    Hmm, I wish you had liked this one more because it sounds like an interesting read. Hope the others are better for you.

  6. Well, bummer, not unlike you I’ve had this one on my radar for a while. I’m disappointed the book didn’t develop the characters in more depth. Just curious if this is middle grade and told in third person. I’m finding plenty of these type of books to fit the same mold, heavy on world building and plot, very light on character development.

  7. Oh no! This book has been on my list for a while. I’m so sad that it didn’t work for you. I am going to try it though. I am just so in love with the covers. Lol.

  8. Nori says:

    So, I actually think you liked this more than I did….

  9. Kayla Beck says:

    I’m a whore for major world-building, so I think I may give this a spin. I hate that you didn’t like it, but on to better books!

  10. I am super big on characters and have a copy of this, so I will give it a shot even though you said the characterization isn’t awesome. Because for me personally, sometimes writing and worldbuilding helps.

  11. I’m sad this one wasn’t that great. I’ve been wanting to read it too, since the blurb sounds really interesting and I tend to enjoy Greenwillow titles. But if I’m going to read fantasy, I want it character-driven or else I get bored too. I might need to skip this one…

    • Christina says:

      Balzer + Bray is the Harper imprint I do best with. The rest are very hit or miss. I only do character-driven fantasy. Otherwise I’m just bored bored bored.

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