Book Review: Shadow Heir (Dark Swan #4) by Richelle Mead

11506205Title: Shadow Heir (Dark Swan #4)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Faeries, Adult, Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Bantam Books
Publication Date: February 2nd 2012
Goodreads | Author Website

#1 New York Times bestselling author Richelle Mead returns to the Otherworld, a mystic land inextricably linked to our own–and balanced precariously on one woman’s desperate courage…
Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land’s prophecy-haunted queen, there’s no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born-children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld…
The spell-driven source of the blight isn’t the only challenge to Eugenie’s instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can’t trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can’t–or won’t–reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon–and risk the ultimate sacrifice…

I saw Dark Swan in our local bookstore and knew I had to get the book. I’m a big fan of Richelle Mead, and The Vampire Academy series in particular, and I didn’t want to miss out on what I wrongfully assumed was a new series. Turns out Dark Swan is the fourth installment in the Shadow Heir series. But no harm done, I got on the train from university and started reading. At first, I was, of course, very confused about what was going on, but as the story unfolded and we got quick recaps of events that happened previously, I began to understand more and more of the story. Since I had nothing else do to on the train ride home, it was a great way to spend the time, although I’m sure my opinions about this book would probably have been a tad bit different if I’d read the previous ones.

Dark Swan talks about Eugenie, a shaman-for-hire who’s also Queen of two kingdoms in the Faerie Realm, known as the Otherworld. She’s pregnant, and when a mysterious blight starts corrupting the soil of the Faerie Lands, and her unborn children’s lives are threatened, Eugenie has no choice but go to back to the mortal realm and protect her offspring from the watchful eyes of supernatural creatures. But once that’s done, she has to accept her responsibility as a Queen and go to the source of the corruption, the mysterious Thorn Land, where she faces her greatest challenge yet.

My favorite character of this book? Hands down, Volusian. He’s an entirely new level of awesome the other characters can only dream to accomplish. Who the heck is Volusian, you say? He’s Eugenie’s minion, forced to comply with her every wish, much to his own chagrin. The relationship between Eugenie and her minion is…strange, to say the least. Volusian dislikes her completely, but he’s forced to answer her questions and helps her out because of a magic tie between them. But as the novel continues, Volusian begins to play an important part, and the more he appeared, the more I liked him.

Dorian was another star-character. He supports Eugenie in everything she does, even if he doesn’t like her decisions at all. He’s kind and brave, and a perfect match for our main character. Unfortunately, it took her longer to find that out than it took for me to discover.

Then why only three stars? One word, or rather, name. Eugenie. For an adult, whose supposedly also pregnant and a soon-to-be Mom, Eugenie still acts like a teenager. She makes all the wrong decisions, is awful at making tactical moves, and decides to make a truce with the man who not only tried to kill her, but also her unborn children. Well, that screams stupid in my book. I’m all for making main characters flawed (and all characters, actually) but this is book four in the series. The character should’ve evolved enough to get out of teenage phase. Being flawed doesn’t necessarily mean being stupid. All people are flawed, but not everyone is stupid. And hardly anyone I know is as stupid as Eugenie is behaving throughout this novel.

But what really brought it all crashing down for me, was the ending. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but that ending left me so frustrated I felt like hitting Eugenie on the head with a frying pan. WHY the hell does she makes that decision? WHY can’t she stop to think like a normal, intelligent human being for just five minutes and see she’s just made the WORST mistake of her life? I didn’t even read the first three novels, and even I know that decision is a) terrible b) cruel c) EVIL.

Also, after some investigation, I found out this is the end of the series. Well, it ends on a cliffhanger, which is another major let down for me.

On the plus side though, the world Richelle Mead has created in the Shadow Heir series, is rich, vibrant and unique. A true adventure for every fan of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. I’d recommend this series to fans of the genre, but the ending of Dark Swan is a bit of a let-down. Read at your own risk.

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