Many years ago, I went on a cruise ship with my family. And like any teenager with nothing to do and lots of time on their hands, I wandered over to the bookshop they had on the boat. There were the usual suspects – Tom Clancy, James Patterson, Cecilia Ahern.
And then, right there in the bargain bin, I found The Shadow’s Son by Jon Sprunk.
I had never heard of him before. And, being a lover of books and discounts, I decided to give him a try.
Was it worth it? Well…
Caim makes his living on the edge of a blade, but when a routine job goes south, he is thrust into the middle of an insidious plot.
His only allies are Josephine, the socialite daughter of his last target, and Kit, a guardian spirit no one else can see.
In this fight for his life, Caim only trusts his knives and his instincts, but they won’t be enough when his quest for justice leads him from Othir’s hazardous back alleys to its shining corridors of power. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow’s Son. . . .
I honestly didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. Maybe it was the slightly cliched blurb, or perhaps the cover art, but everything about this book just screamed “meh.”
However, I was pleasantly surprised!
The book was gripping. The plot was intriguing, if a little predictable. The style of writing was easy to read, whilst also keeping things exciting.
Caim, deep and brooding though he is, is actually a really entertaining protagonist. He is not just another man in the shadows, with knives and gadgets to help kill his targets. He has a genuine kindness to him, a certain likeability for a man who spends all of his time killing people.
And I loved Kit, the spirit only he can see. Not only does it add an air of mystery around our protagonist – making me curious about his past, and therefore the book’s sequel – but also because she is a hell of a lot of fun. She adds the charm, wit, and humour to the book, whilst also being a guide. She is a really nice blend of Jiminy Cricket and crazy best friend, adding a breath of fresh air to the book.
The villain and Josephine, however, lean a little too far in the cliche for my taste. And I will say this now: If you are triggered by acts of sexual violence, be aware that there is a r*** scene in this book. The act itself is not explicitly described, but the aggression before definitely is.
And honestly? From a narrative standpoint, it’s not needed. Even though I am not as affected by these scenes as others I know, I found the whole part grotesque, hard to read, and just shocking for the sake of shocking. Take the scene out and, well, the story would continue on as normal. It’s a huge black blemish on an otherwise age-friendly, action packed fantasy romp.
If that immediately turns you away from this book, that’s fair enough. But, if you are able to get through it, or choose to simply skip the scene (it is fairly well indicated when it is going to happen, so just skip to the next chapter. You won’t miss much.) then The Shadow’s Son can be a fun, exciting adventure. A great holiday read.
So, the next time you see a book in the bargain bin, maybe give it a second look. The Shadow’s Son definitely taught me to note judge a book by its cover price.
Have you read The Shadow’s Son? Or were surprised by a book from the bargain bin? Leave a comment below, or let me know @ERHollands.