The Shadow Casket was a bag of mixed feelings.
There was a lengthy, drawn-out buildup as we saw POVs from multiple characters, similar to how The Ember Blade shaped up. However, the entire book was a bit underwhelming and lacked much of the wonder and late-book excitement that we saw in The Ember Blade.
The story kicks off a couple of years after book one ends. The conflict with the Krodans is heating up, but the Dawnwardens are as divided as ever. We’re taken through each of their story arcs, some of which are bland and others a bit interesting.
The Shadow Casket is written very much the same way Book 1 is: multiple POVs, a few half-morally grey heroes, and a character-based plot. Only this time, there’s not really much going on.
The major story ARCs are those of Vika, Aren/Cade, and Klyssen, with the rest not really as interesting. The other characters, including Fen, Grub and Kenda, are very secondary, and there’s not much to look forward to in their POVs.
Fen’s evolution throughout the book is one of the more interesting points for character development. We see her morph from a wild, carefree young woman to an embittered and finally mature woman. It’s not the best bit of character development I’ve seen in the genre, but it shines brightly in the dullness that the other characters seem to carry.
Aren’s POV, as expected, is the most interesting. He’s not much changed from book 1, but his character development is the most realistic, as is Cade’s. I won’t speak further about this for fear of dropping major spoilers, but it’s one of the good parts of the book.
I hope to see more of Kenda and Grub in the next book, and I really hope that there’s more action there than in The Shadow Casket. I see plenty of room for action, but the author is somehow reluctant to bloody the pages.
Plot and Pacing
The book reserves the best for the last, and there’s betrayal, moral dilemma, and a teensy-weensy bit of romance tucked in between the pages.
The culmination doesn’t quite flatter, even if it’s slightly satisfying.
I don’t think the book was aptly named at all. The quest and subplot around the Shadow Casket took up a huge part of the book, with the artefact of zero significance to proceedings. In fact, I think that this particular subplot could’ve been eliminated, and the book would still make plenty of sense. I hope to see more of the Shadow Casket in the next book, though.
Give us more, c’mon! There’s so much potential here!!