A Glowing Endorsement of Maredith Ryan’s “Shadow Prince: A Zion Chronicle”

To read our endorsement of Maredith Ryan’s first book, Prince Shade, click here.

I’ll cut to the chase. This book absolutely blew me away. I loved the first one, yet this was even deeper in intensity and emotion.

It is a marvel to me that one person’s brain, no doubt with some inspiration from family and friends, can come up with a fictional world so packed with diverse and entertaining personality, character, detail, and geography. The balance between dialogue and action is excellent. The plots have layers and layers to them, and I especially enjoyed the switch in this book to changing scenes by person and location each chapter. This took the reading experience to another level.

And there is a masterful plot twist in Chapter 5 that leads to a crucial development called “Capholm”. I do not intend to majorly spoil anything but this whole subplot shook me to my core. There is a particular chapter (14) that I don’t have a good adjective for. I would say “absorbing” or “riveting” but something along the lines of “face-melting” would be more accurate. And that is a huge compliment. There’s a reason I love Jurassic Park and Stranger Things Season 2, Episode 8.

And the crazy thing is, those are a movie and a TV show. I’m not sure any scene in any of my favorite fantasy series has rocked me quite like this one. It takes a special skill to put in writing what ordinarily takes a screen to accomplish. My hair could have been on fire while I was reading and I’d not have known. And just when you think it cannot get any more tense, it does. I truly cannot believe someone I know personally wrote this.

I’ll add at this point that I’m not reviewing these books because what I want more than anything is for people to buy and read these books as they are fantastic fiction. But I will say there is violence in these books. It gets ratcheted up in this sequel, with Capholm, beasts and battles in a forest, and just in general. For the record, I love it. It gives the story a realness within the fantasy that draws me in even deeper than if it were more geared toward kids. These aren’t fairy tales Ryan is writing. The adult nature of the conflict packs a punch that I desperately adore.

But there is plenty more to the book other than Capholm. The only other one I’ll broach here, though I could laud dozens, is the ending. I shed tears. It pulled me in so many different directions, and again, it just has so many beautiful intricacies to it. It would be so easy to wrap things up in a bow, even if you intended to keep the saga going in future installments. That’s what the first several Harry Potter books do.

But Ryan does things that are so daring, bold and raw. So many mind-blowing twists. None are brash or manipulative. They are stunning in the most mesmerizing way possible. To say I’m ready for Book 3 would be like saying I’m ready for Thanksgiving dinner.

Perhaps the best compliment I can give this book is to contrast it with one of the other greatest fiction books I’ve read in the last 15 years, Where the Crawdads Sing. I mentioned in my review of it that it’s the “kind of book that you paradoxically want to devour so you can finish it and see how it ends, but also hate finishing because you want it to keep going.” With Shadow Prince, I didn’t want to get to the end. I wasn’t in a hurry at all. I honestly hoped to have this review out a month ago but as I started I realized it would not be fair to this book not to enjoy it.

I already can’t wait to read it again and this time I truly would love to do about 20 pages a day over five weeks. This is a truly epic series, and it will continue, hopefully for many more novels. But the beauty of it is that no matter how long Ryan keeps going, I will read it and cherish it the way I do a Chic-fil-A sandwich (which I don’t rush to get to the end of either).

Ryan has gifted those of us who love this genre of writing with nearly 1000 pages so far of exquisite material. I could not recommend it highly enough. Go buy it and read it. Buy and read the first one if you haven’t.

Five stars out of five.

Gowdy Cannon

Gowdy Cannon

I am currently the pastor of Bear Point FWB Church in Sesser, IL. I previously served for 17 years as the associate bilingual pastor at Northwest Community Church in Chicago. My wife, Kayla, and I have been married over 8 years and have a 4-year-old son, Liam Erasmus, and a baby, Bo Tyndale. I have been a student at Welch College in Nashville and at Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago. I love The USC (the real one in SC, not the other one in CA), Seinfeld, John 3:30, Chick-fil-A, Dumb and Dumber, the book of Job, preaching and teaching, and arguing about sports.

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