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Shadowfell    by Juliet Marillier order for
by Juliet Marillier
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Fifteen-year-old Neryn and her father are on the run from the king's enforcers. Her brother has already been a victim of the monarch's culling. Culling is done by the enforcers to eliminate anyone suspected of using magic. It also keeps the people frightened of their ruler. Neryn has been told the enforcers are searching for her.

Neryn can see fairies or the little folk. This is considered magic. The king's enforcers will kill Neryn if they find her. She and her father avoid the enforcers by not staying long in one place. When they find a little work, the money they earn must last them until their next secret undertaking. If they are lucky, sometimes they also receive meals in return for their labor.

Wet, tired and hungry, Neryn and her father are looking for a place to spend the night when they happen upon a chancy boat. Chancy boats are gaming vessels. Her dad knows the owner of this one so it is safe to approach it. Neryn begs him not to gamble the few coppers they have, but he is sure he can double or triple them.

Neryn tries to keep an eye on her father, but when the drinking men become aware of her, the owner leads her to an alcove to watch without being seen. Exhausted she falls asleep. When she wakes, her father is wagering his only daughter against a stack of silver coins. When he loses, a fight breaks out. Neryn is rescued by the hooded man who won her.

He gives Neryn her freedom and a cloak, before he leaves her in the forest. He tells her he'll be back if she chooses to wait. She has no reason to trust him, so she sets out alone for Shadowfell, a place where she's heard she will be safe. The little people have been following Nervyn and her father. She's refused to acknowledge them, but now that she is companionless her circumstances are even more dangerous.

Neryn is a strong, likeable character with more than a touch of otherworldliness. If you enjoy fantasy, Shadowfell is the beginning of what should be an excellent series.

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