Review: Shadowplay by Laura Lam

ShadowplaySeries: Pantomime #2
Published by: Strange Chemistry
ISBN: 1908844396
ISBN 13: 9781908844392
Published: January 2014
Pages: 400
Format reviewed: NetGalley supplied mobi
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites, Recommended
Related Review: Pantomime (Pantomime #1)

Shadowplay follows immediately from Pantomime, the first book in Laura Lam’s young-adult fantasy series, and wastes no time getting into the thick of things. We return to the complex and mysterious characters who we love from the first book, and aren’t disappointed by the new characters who are just as secretive with their own hidden backstories. The genuine intrigue would be enough to keep us reading, even without the lovely and powerful atmosphere we love in Lam’s work.

The plot advances a little more fluidly than the first book, with everything close-knit and woven nicely. You’ve never left wishing they would spend more time in a certain section of the plot – it always moves to exactly where you want it. One aspect of the story (touched upon in Pantomime) is done particularly well, and really helps bring the book and the character of Micah together.

The characters provide the backbone of this edition to the series perhaps more so than the first book, with Micah providing a strong lead as before, Drystan who is still with her, both joined by Maske, a magician, fittingly, and a friend of Drystan’s, and Cyan, who you’ll see on the cover of the book itself. Both are compelling characters in their own rights, with Maske’s talents capturing Micah’s attention like the performance tricks in Pantomime. In fact, I would have liked more time spent on Maske, but he is slightly over-shone by Cyan, who slowly came to be a new favourite.

Cyan is complex, trustworthy and reliable in a way that must have been hard to write, when introducing her to untrusting characters who have every reason to block her from their confidences. She manages to win their trust as well as the reader’s attention, and I can’t wait to see more of her. In a comment from the author, Lam says that Cyan took her by surprise, so it’s evident the character managed to click into something that resonates with the reader.

This book delves a little darker in several cases, with the Shadows that are following Micah, people from her past that may or may not wish to help her, and the chimera who we learn more of as the novel progresses. It’s interesting to see characters when they don’t immediately embrace something new and different to them – in many novels that include another race or magic, they sometimes jump in too quickly. Micah makes believable decisions throughout, which strengthens the realism of the plot in that regard.

Shadowplay deals with sexuality, discrimination, trust, and the choices one has to make when you’re basically between a rock and a hard place. We see all characters progress, and come to care for them more, and especially hope to see them safe in the next book. Currently, there aren’t any details for the third book, but we’re looking forward to marking it off our calendar!

 This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 23rd December 2013.

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