Shadowfell, the first in a new trilogy from Juliet Marillier, was a fascinating & satisfying read. Set in the medieval fantasy land of Alban, this dystopia follows Neryn as she tries to evade the king’s guards, called Enforcers. She’s especially dangerous to know/help, even more so than other fugitives, because she can see and converse with the fey (Red Cap, pookie, brollachan, urisk, naiad, etc.), a crime punishable by torture and death.

There’s all the usual fantasy stuff about journeys, rebel alliances, prophecies, and such, but this book is worth reading because of a couple things: first, the inspiration for the “fey/Good Folk” that Neryn sees is found in old Celtic, Welsh, Cornish, Breton, etc. myths and faerie stories; and second, the complexity and realism of the struggles faced by the characters and of the characters themselves. This book doesn’t gloss over how hard it is to be on the run from the government with little to no food, shelter, and allies. Neryn is very brave, but she is also scared, and she doubts herself and those around her—that is, she’s very human. Also, the relationship between Neryn and the main dude is very swoony, though not the focus of the story (just how I like ‘em).

Shadowfell isn’t action-packed (although I think we’ll see a lot more action in the next two books), but neither is it slow, and the intricacy of the characters and setting makes this book totally worth reading. Get it here!