Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara. ★★1/2
My reading relationship with Cast in Shadows had a lot of ups and downs. The beginning made it seem like it would be terrible again. The middle made it seem like it’d be all right. Then the ending brought it to back down to a “not very good.”
Kaylin is a Hawk, the police force of the City of Elantra. Seven years ago she fled the lawless streets of the fiefdom Nightshade, when strange marks appeared on her skin that had marked death for other children. Now children are dying again, and the marks on Kaylin’s skin are changing. But this time, Kaylin has the power to investigate the mystery.
The world building should be one of the draws here. There’s an invented fantasy world, different sentient species, and an urban fantasy feel. Unfortunately, Cast of Shadows did not make that as fun as it sounds. The world never felt very well realized to me, to the point where I couldn’t figure out if it was pre or post industrial revolution. The multitude of non-human species was probably the high point of the series, although I would have liked to see them veer away from strict analogs to Earth species (lions and birds for instance).
When it comes to the plot itself, everything was so weird and vague. It also ends up trying to justify child murder in the backstory? I don’t want to talk too much about it here, but it’s under spoiler tags in my LibraryThing reading journal. The pacing also felt super slow, although it did speed up for a while during the middle.
I was also hoping from what else I’ve read of the author that there’d be a number of significant female supporting characters who interact with Kaylin. This sort of happened. Kaylin had a female best friend, and there were a couple of other female characters. But it still ended up feeling like almost everyone else involved in the plot was male.
Cast in Shadow just felt lacking. I’m not planning on continuing with the series.