I recently started reading two fantasy series. The first was decent, but wasn’t holding my interest. At least not enough to go on to book two. The second series, the Shadowlight Saga by Mande Matthews, is another story.
In Bonded, we begin with Hallad and his friends as they happen upon the mysterious mute woman Swan. The encounter in the woods might not have been all that remarkable had not his sister Emma then vanished into the Blackness.
Readers quickly find themselves immersed in a Norse-inspired fantasy world as the quest begins to discover who Swan is, what happened to Emma and Hallad’s family history is not quite what he thought it was. Once you reach the end, you realize this is only Act 1, and there is more to come. To get to the end, of course, will involve encounters with many peoples, beings and obstacles.
While this book is labeled as a “YA fantasy,” I think it’s written with depth and detail that all adults will enjoy. I have found that some authors try to impress us by over-complicating their books with plots, sub-plots, schemes and such that ultimately only bog down their story’s pace and destroy its realism. This isn’t one of those books. Matthews also has a short prequel to Bonded, The Light Keepers, which you don’t have to read first, but I did (and you’ll want to to read it one way or another). So now I look forward to reading part 2 of the trilogy, in what has established itself as a compelling Good vs. Evil fantasy series.
And it’s those kind of stories that are at the heart of the fantasy genre.