Title: Into the Shadow Wood (A Wind Rider Chronicles Novella)
Author: Allison D. Reid
Genre: Christian Fantasy
Publisher: Allison D. Reid
Pages: 90 (eBook)
Blurb: Once a proud member of the Sovereign’s prestigious personal guard, Einar has lost everything: his home, his Sovereign, and his purpose. Most of his closest friends have either been killed in battle or executed. His friend Nevon died trying to fulfill a dangerous oath…one that Einar disagreed with, but now feels honor-bound to take up in his stead. The quest plunges Einar into the depths of the dark and twisted Shadow Wood, testing the limits of his strength, his beliefs, and his sanity. What he finds in the Wood is far more ominous than anything he’d expected. If he’s not careful, Nevon’s fate might end up being his own.
My Take: I absolutely loved Journey to Aviad, the first book in Allison’s Wind Rider Chronicles. When I learned she was writing a novella that takes place at the same time as some of the events toward the end of Journey to Aviad, I knew I had to read it. Journey to Aviad was easily one of the five best books I’ve read this year, and somehow this short novella surpassed even that book. That in itself is among the highest praise I can heap upon “Into the Shadow Wood”.
This novella follows Einar, a character who played a major role early on in Journey to Aviad and who, I understand, does not appear in the sequel to that book. But he had a story to tell, which appears here and is absolutely fantastic. The world building and scene-setting that Allison excels at is present here in this novella. The Shadow Wood feels like a character in itself, exerting its sinister will upon the minds of the men traveling deep into its depths. The supporting cast with Einar, his companion Alaric and his commander Godwin, are both memorable characters in their own right. I loved Godwin’s deeply rooted faith and how it interacted with Einar’s skepticism. That interplay stood out as one of highlights of this novella and helped make Einar a dynamic character throughout this novella.
The one major criticism I had about Journey to Aviad was the lack of action, where it seemed like the girls were being swept along by events rather than taking control and making decisions. That certainly was not the case with this book, which is packed with action during the exploration of the Shadow Wood and then the major battle that takes place near the end. I loved how the events in this overlap with one of the events near the end of Journey to Aviad, providing that continuity and firmly placing the timing of this book into the Wind Riders chronology.
Overall this was a great read and a steal at the price. I’m very much looking forward to getting a chance to pick up the second book in Allison’s series and have a feeling that one will be wonderful as well. She has shown her ability to masterfully craft a living and vibrant world and to create characters who are dynamic in growth and are enjoyable to follow on their journeys. I cannot recommend this book, or Journey to Aviad, enough. If you enjoy fantasy at all, or want to read books that are steeped in faith and mystery and wonder, you won’t want to miss these.