The wait is finally over.....the fourth book in the Stonewylde series by Kit Berry is here.
Shadows at Stonewylde picks up some 13 years after the climatic events at the end of Solstice at Stonewylde when young Yul, our bruised and much abused 'hero' defeated the charismatic but wicked Magus of Stonewylde....whom he had discovered was actually his father. As Yul embraced his equally abused and traumatised young sweetheart Sylvie, it seemed as though they and Stonewylde itself, were heading towards a brighter and happier future.
Well, a lot can happen in 13 years.........Shadows re-introduces many of the characters from the earlier books, seeing them grow and move forward in their lives. The author introduces new and 'interesting' characters and also adds significant depth and layers to some who were not 'main' characters then, especially those who were youngsters, effectively creating 'Stonewylde - The Next Generation' ;-). From the very first couple of pages, it becomes apparent that the bright horizon that beckoned at the end of Solstice may not have materialised. As you fall further into the pages, you become aware that at Stonewylde the shadows may not be empty, the past may yet have a part to play in the present and echoes from that past may yet take hold of the future.
I finished Shadows late last night: like Claire who has also written a (fantastic) review I just couldn't resist reading it the whole way through, having got it yesterday. As I closed the book I couldn't believe that Kit had done it to us again.........the wait for book 5, the final one in the series is going to be even more 'challenging' this time than it was between Solstice and Shadows! At the end of Solstice there was the promise of a happier times ahead for characters such as Yul, Sylvie, Miranda and even Clip however, the end of Shadows leaves the reader desperate to know what happens next...... All I can safely say, without spoiling it for anyone who hasn't yet read it, is that although I expected to enjoy and adore this book, I wasn't prepared for just how much it would affect me....at times I was yelling 'no!!!' at various characters as the story unfolded! The descriptions of the things the 'main' character Leveret experiences are compelling but sometimes not easy to read, however towards the end, as she realises what she must do, I was amazed yet again at the sheer brilliance of Kit's words: when you get to pages 415 - 417 you'll see what I mean...... I found this to be beautiful and powerful - it stirred my emotions more than I can adequately explain.
I admit that I am unashamedly a Stonewylde 'groupie', I adore Kit Berry's books and indeed the lady herself: Kit is one of life's lovely people. That aside, and without any bias (!) I find that Kit's writing style lifts the reader up into her imagination, transporting you to Stonewylde in a manner that makes you slip into the pages so that you wander between the words, feeling like a bystander rather than a reader. Kit has created a fictitious place but once you submit to the 'Stonewylde Effect' you can close your eyes and imagine untold aspects of the place for yourself. For me that is the true genius of Kit's writing, in that her style allows the reader to see and imagine things that she HASN'T written into the story line.......so for each reader, her books become both a collective and yet also an intensely personal experience.
Would I recommend this book to someone else? In a heartbeat - but if that person had already read Magus, Moondance and Solstice I wouldn't need to because they would already have it on pre-order!
Congratulations and heartfelt thank to Kit....Shadows has been well worth the wait.