One of the pitfalls of writing a series where the first book is very well received is the worry that the second book won’t live up to expectations. This happens often enough that I am usually a little leery when I go to read book number two. I very much enjoyed the first book in the McKenzie Lewis series, The Shadow Reader, and was hoping that The Shattered Dark would be just as enthralling.
When we last saw McKenzie she has switched sides in the war between the Fae and is now helping the rebels. She learned many things were kept from her and that she had made false assumptions based on her devotion to Kyol. She has now formed quite a few friendships with these people she always thought were the enemy, fallen for one of the rebel leaders, Aren, and is in a completely different place than she was at the start of The Shadow Reader. The Shattered Dark starts out with McKenzie trying to start a new life in Las Vegas, maybe find a job and a bit of normalcy outside of reading shadows for the rebel fae. When her best friend Paige is kidnapped she is drawn back into the war and starts the search to try to rescue her. There are several different plots that are woven together throughout the book that ultimately lead to an ending that was very surprising for me. I seriously did not see it coming.
The romance between Aren and McKenzie develops significantly, a lot of Aren’s past comes out and McKenzie must make a choice whether she will accept him and their relationship despite it. Kyol is seen very little through most of the book, though you can sense that her feelings for him do play a role in how she deals with Aren. Her blind acceptance of Kyol during the ten years they loved each other, but felt they couldn’t be together, are always in her thoughts. I’m not sure how I feel about Aren and Kyol and the love triangle they and McKenzie are involved in. During the first book I had this feeling that I wanted Kyol to overcome the things holding him back from acknowledging that he loved her and I wanted McKenzie to forgive him. He is just so noble, and I believed his dedication and love for her. But Aren has grown on me and I loved that I could see his character grow and the relationship with McKenzie deepen. I guess that is what makes this love triangle a little different from others I’ve read, I have this very real impression that both men love her and she very much loves them back. It just makes the reader feel like they are a little mixed up and simply can’t choose. I really wanted more of a resolution with this book, but I just don’t see that coming for a while.
During all of this McKenzie is also trying to find herself. She wants to have this everyday, normal life, but keeps getting drawn back into this feud between the different factions of the fae. I think one of the reasons why she was so adamant about finding Paige was because she is really the only link she has to her “human” life. There must be some way for her to find a balance between the two. Now that Paige has been drawn into the life of the fae I see McKenzie having an even harder time separating herself from it.
There were other resolutions in regard to the overall story arc, but then more difficulties were introduced, and introduced in a way that I honestly have no idea in what direction this author is going to take the next book. The ending was a total shocker for me, I felt like we had made all of this progress throughout the book and then…. cliffhanger. Man, I hate cliffhangers. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about McKenzie is that she seems to really think out her decisions before she makes them and the ending of this book was written in a way where she is powerless in what happens, and how her life will be affected by it. I was so sad for her. For someone who seems to have sacrificed so much for everyone else, she deserves better. I have my fingers crossed that Sandy Williams will give her a happy ending without drawing it out too much more. One can only take so much angst.
The Shattered Dark is a compelling, action packed follow-up to The Shadow Reader. Fans of urban fantasy should definitely pick up this series and give it a try. I will be awaiting the next book, which we hopefully won’t have to wait to long for.
Aren pulls me gently toward him. “You told me you wanted time. I’ve given it to you, and I’ll give you as long as you need, McKenzie. I love you.” He tucks a lock of hair behind my ear. “You’re worth waiting a decade for.”