Series: Seven Swords #1
Published by Self Publish on 2021-11-24
Length: 229 pages
Reviewing Kindle from Kindle Unlimited
Reading Challenges: 2023 Backlist Reader Challenge, COYER 2023
Touch her and you die. He's her spirit bodyguard and he's lived a thousand lives to be ready for this one quest: keeping her safe.
I'm hiding in my father's closet, desperately picking the lock on a box containing an ancient evil when he emerges. He doesn't seem all that evil. But neither did my friends before they turned into monsters. I'd like to think that I don't need him. But I love books and he loves battles. I'm used to drinking tea and he's used to drinking the blood of his enemies. Or whatever his kind drink. In a world stricken by plague, all my friends have become terrifying monsters, and I have no other option but to trust him to keep me safe. He'll teach me to hunt those monsters and I'll try not to fall hopelessly in love with him.
I’ve had this book sitting on my TBR for a few years now, and since I’ve been struggling to find a book I’ve enjoyed, I thought I’d give this one a go. It did not disappoint! Heart of Shadow by Sarah K.L. Wilson is a thrilling fantasy about a young girl caught in the midst of a plague and her protector who lives in her shadow. The book begins in a closet. Ilsaletta has been hiding in her father’s closet for four days, her food and water have run out, and someone–or something–is trying to break in. Desperate for escape, she finds a locked box with a beautiful sword inside. However someone lives inside the sword just as desperate to escape as Ilsaletta.
What a ride! From start to finish, the pacing of this book does not let up. Thankfully it isn’t super long (clocking in at just over two hundred pages). Told entirely from Ilsaletta’s perspective, the story unfolds at break neck speed. I found myself fully immersed in her plight as she struggles to make sense of what is happening in the world around her and the mystery surrounding her newfound protector.
Ilsaletta is the daughter of a well-known and respected pirate. She has been raised and educated like nobility, so she is soft and untested with a weapon of any kind. Give her a book and she is happy. Her life is turned upside down when illness strikes. Those ill either day within a few days or become something else entirely–violent and erratic, possessed. Ilsaletta’s quick thinking saves her in the short term, but it is her shadow protector who will save her in the end.
Vaargard is a Nakuraki, a shadow who lives in the shadow of the blade Ilsaletta finds. He pledges himself to her, and she to him. He moves in her shadow and can only take corporeal form when violent. He protects her, gets her out of the closet, and knows a little about what is happening in her house and the village beyond. I really enjoyed his addition to the story. Vaargard becomes her ally and friend before she realizes it.
Overall, I enjoyed Heart of Shadow. The banter between Vaargard and Ilsaletta is entertaining, the action is thrilling, and the adventure to come is intriguing. Highly recommend this one!