The Shard, by Jane Shand
Hey guys, how are you doing today?
The past few weeks have been really good to me, and I hope they’ve been good for you too.
Today, I’m reviewing The Shard, a unique fantasy novel by Jane Shand.
Nalani possesses a gift, one which she views as a terrible curse, for she believes it drove her father away from her family’s home on the island of Naia. Now, Nalani’s gift is calling to her, urging her to travel to the mainland, Karas, where she hopes to carry out its mission.
Coincidentally, Darkling children have been popping up for the past fifty years, their magic twisted into something dark and insidious. Nalani may have a way to save them, if she’s willing to follow her gift. However, a dark secret lies in the heart of Karas, one which has been kept from its people for the past fifty years.
While the characters in The Shard are few, its main characters stood out in unique ways.
Nalani, a gifted young woman from Naia Island has a direct way of going about things. She is stealthy and clever and never seems to trust others easily, something which I found easy to relate to.
Luca, a dedicated university scholar possessed a curious nature and made a loyal and deeply caring friend. He stood by Nalani through thick and thin and provided an interesting contrast to her more daring temperament.
Galena, a lead guard in the mainland of Karas was a hardened woman, with a cruel streak running through her core. She posed a great threat to Nalani’s safety and that of her loved ones and provided a good deal of tension for the later part of the story.
Other secondary characters such as Philipe, Akaran, and Luca’s friends: Allesandro and Matteo provided supportive companionship to the main characters, along with alternative strengths, which aided the main characters in their mission.
There was a lot to like with The Shard. Given how many elements I enjoyed, I now list them as bullet points, rather than in paragraphs.
-The main plot was well complimented by its subplots, including Nalani’s relationship with Luca and the other people she acquired help from over the course of the story.
-The limited third person narration worked well for this story, giving us insight into Nalani’s internal issues, without overwhelming the reader with them at every turn.
-The sensory description evokes a beautiful series of images in my mind.
-The concept of the Darklings was fascinating: they are children born with magic, having it twisted by some unknown force that manifests within them, so they become dark creatures. However, I did feel like this could have been explored more as I didn’t get a good idea of what these Darklings actually did to cause any issues.
-The blossoming affection between Nalani and Luca warmed my heart as Nalani gradually learned to trust others again.
-The mystery of the story kept me reading, with different elements converging as time went on, until all of the pieces came together, revealing the big picture issue and its causes.
-The author builds tension in an excellent way, particularly within the character’s interpersonal relations, highlighting the differences in their temperaments and opinions.
My only two dislikes were
-I wasn’t sure where the people’s magic came from, whether it was inherited or if there was some particular source. I felt that this element of the story could have used a little bit more explanation, just to solidify a reader’s understanding.
-The emotional conflict between Nalani and her mother was interesting, however, it felt a bit jumpy. At the start of the story, the complications in their mother daughter relationship are examined briefly, however, her mother’s lack of acceptance isn’t really mentioned again until near the end of the book. For example, (MINI SPOILER ALERT) when Nalani is going to need her gift the most, she decides to suddenly get rid of it: this just felt rushed. Then getting her gift back was too quick and easy, providing no real tension: it felt like it was added in, almost as an afterthought. For something which informed Nalani’s misbelief about her gift so much, I thought this could have done with being addressed in a more consistent fashion.
Other than that, the story was well put together and held my attention well.
Two quotes which stood out to me were:
1) ‘This was what happened when you trusted people: they hurt you.’
2) ‘Creativity fostered free thinking, which could lead to people questioning the way the city was run.’
Both quotes held interesting messages for me. The first, regarding trust, felt relatable as I also have trouble trusting people and letting them in and it was great to see this lack of trust reflected back in Nalani’s character.
The second quote, regarding creativity and free thinking led me to think more deeply upon how societies are run, and how questioning things is often frowned upon, despite being crucial for societal development.
Overall, The Shard was a promising start to a new fantasy series. The characters were interesting, as was the world of unusual magic in which they lived and struggled.
My Rating: 4 stars
Recommended to: lovers of unique, imaginative fantasy stories.
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Wishing you a wonderful week,