The Shadow Atlas: House of Ravens by Jenny Sandiford
This is the prequel to the series, all about Torin Dumont. It was no longer available on BookSirens by the time I was ready for it, so instead I downloaded it from Sandiford’s website for free when I subscribed to her newsletter. I’ve been loving the series so far and am excited to read the third book as well once it comes out later this year.
Read: May 21, 2023
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An Enjoyable Backstory
For years, Torin Dumont has been preparing to avenge his mother’s death by killing her murderer, the head of the House of Snakes, also known as the Viper. His father finally believes that he’s ready, but only after the discovery of his “gods-given gift” which to Torin, feels more like a curse.
I went into this book knowing nothing about it but the title and that it’s a prequel; I hadn’t read the blurb. Though I found out pretty quick that it was about Torin Dumont, one of the love interests for Azalea in the main Shadow Atlas books. This book turned out to be about how he came to be at the Tower of London, and while it added a few things, it didn’t really share anything I couldn’t work out from the other books.
It was in limited third person point of view from Torin’s perspective, much like how the other books are mainly from Azalea’s perspective, and doesn’t change throughout; that’s okay, because it’s much shorter than the others. The style is consistent with Sandiford’s other work, a bit casual, but mostly serious and written in a way that’s great for teens and young adults. It reviews a lot about magic that we first learn in the main series, which I’ve noticed is more often in books for younger readers, to remind them of things they might’ve forgotten, or tell them what they might not know (this is a prequel; it could’ve been read before the other books instead, or separately).
I appreciate that we get more than a glimpse into Torin’s childhood. He’s fifteen-sixteen years old in this book, but a lot has to do with his mother’s death from back when he was nine or ten. Though there are no flashbacks, the insight into his thoughts and feelings is invaluable for his character, and seeing how he’s trained and treated at home grants us understanding for who he is—even if it doesn’t excuse his actions.
The quality of the book is great, as usual, though I found a single typo at the very end of the book—always annoying when they slip through all those rounds of editing, huh?
I thought the pacing was quite good. There were a few parts that felt like they dragged on and I wanted to get on with it, but overall, no scenes felt out of place. We spent time with a limited cast, all of whom played a role in this story in one way or another, and it was exciting to know how Torin met many of the characters we know from the main series. One meeting of his was a little odd, I mut admit, because it seemed to conflict with what I know from canon, but I might be mistaken.
I still firmly believe that Mind magic should be illegal as well, for the same reasons that Necromancy is illegal, but considering the amount of power the House of Owls has, I doubt that kind of law would pass anytime soon. Plus, there’s no way to prove that someone else has been prying into your thoughts, so it’s a legal nightmare at best.
If you love the main series books, you’ll love this story. It’s longer than other “free” stories I’ve seen, even, which is a treat to people who’re reading the books. Recommended for a relaxing weekend!
I received a free copy of this book and am leaving an honest review.
The Shadow Atlas Book 1: Initiate
The Shadow Atlas Book 2: Apprentice
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