Whispers of strange creatures made of a shadowy substance can be heard among the nomads of the desert. A new queen has quietly come to power, given strength by a powerful evil unleashed when she opens an ancient jar. She won’t stop until she finds the remains of Alexander the Great, convinced that his body holds the secret to her becoming a god. Kami must rely on a band of misfit friends she makes along the way to save her grandparents and stop the queen. But does the handsome boy she just met have answers, or is he part of the reason for her grandparents’ disappearance?
Born of Shadow is appropriate for upper middle grade readers, teens and readers of all ages who love a good fantasy story. It is the first book in the Shadow Wars Series.
This book was fun, adventurous, romantic, and suspenseful. I thought Kami was a brave and likable heroine, considering she decided to travel to Egypt all by herself to meet her estranged grandparents. Her upbringing matched that of her personality and her independent spirit. Having a parent who abuses alcohol generally forces a kid to grow up much faster, becoming a sort of parent to the parent in the process. Although she must mature faster than is normal for young girls her age, I found that her independence was underlined with some wonderful vulnerability concerning her own value as someone worth loving and even associating with.
Kami's troubles start out right from the get-go when her flight has some engine trouble and her grandparents fail to show up at the airport. Enter one handsome knight in shining armor to the rescue, and let's call him Liam. Hmmm. Liam. Oh, he's just plain yummy. I'm convinced any teen reading this story is going to find another book boyfriend worthy of obsessing over. He's fun, playful, supportive, and completely enamored with Kami though she has a very hard time seeing it. There also seems to be something a bit mysterious about him as Kami's troubles begin to multiply with the disappearance of her grandparents, and the threat of supernatural shadow creatures begin to wreak havoc in the community.
The secondary characters are fun and necessary to the plot. I didn't feel like there were too many of them or that any one person was irrelevant. I thought it impressive how the author balanced every character's interactions and dialogue in the story though there was a bit of head jumping every once in a while. Fortunately, it wasn't enough to throw me out of the suspenseful narrative. The plot twists and turns as Kami and her friends do their best to find the source of these shadow creatures and save their loved ones in the process are exciting, but the author has added a few more unexpected turns toward the end, and there's no way I plan on spoiling the fun for you. You'll just have to read the book to find out exactly how this turns out for Kami and her friends and if sparks continue to fly between Kami and Liam.
I would like to point out that the author does a great job of bringing Kami's inner conflict into the story. That sense of not belonging or not being loved really colors quite a bit of her behaviors in the book, and I think most teens experience this in one form or another which makes her a very accessible heroine.
There were a few parts that seem a bit rushed, where maybe the dialogue could have been extended and the orchestration more fully developed, but for a debut novel of this magnitude I was rather impressed, and I think Sarah Benson is just going to continue to improve as an author.
I highly recommend this to middle grade and teen readers. This series is going to entertain and delight them.
I gave it four cherry blossoms!
Sarah Benson lives in a log cabin in the beautiful mountains near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho with her husband and four kids. She has worked as a journalist and graphic designer. She now writes fiction, which makes her happy. She holds degrees from BYU-Idaho. Sarah loves interacting with her readers.
Visit Sarah online at http://sarahbensonbooks.com/