Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Longshadow by Olivia Atwater, which is the third book in the Regency Faerie Tales series.
Proper Regency ladies are not supposed to become magicians – but Miss Abigail Wilder is far from proper.
The marriageable young ladies of London are dying mysteriously, and Abigail Wilder intends to discover why. Abigail’s father, the Lord Sorcier of England, believes that a dark lord of faerie is involved – but while Abigail is willing to match her magic against Lord Longshadow, neither her father nor high society believe that she is capable of doing so.
Thankfully, Abigail is not the only one investigating the terrible events in London. Mercy, a street rat and self-taught magician, insists on joining Abigail to unravel the mystery. But while Mercy’s own magic is strange and foreboding, she may well post an even greater danger to Abigail’s heart.
From the author of HALF A SOUL comes a queer faerie tale romance full of love and defiant hope. Pick up LONGSHADOW, and return once more to Olivia Atwater’s charming, magical version of Regency England.
***Thank you to Orbit Books and Angela Man for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
So, I’ve gone about reading this series all wrong. This is the third book, but it is the first one I’ve read, which leaves me with the unique opportunity of being able to comment on how well this book works as a standalone. Overall, it works quite well. The story was self-contained, and I didn’t feel like I needed to have read the previous books to understand the plot or the world of the characters. That being said, there were obvious callbacks to the events and characters of previous stories, but they didn’t overwhelm or derail the current narrative and actually made me want to read the other stories even more than I already did.
This book wasn’t really anything like I expected. I went in thinking it would be a swoony romance with tons of fancy balls and elegant parties, but instead it was mostly a murder mystery. I enjoyed the mystery, even though it did drag a bit in the middle, and it allowed for the exploration of some pretty heavy themes related to death, hope, and the consequences of one’s decisions and treatment of others. I was honestly a bit surprised at just how somber the tone was. It had its moments of whimsy, of course, but it felt much more serious than I was expecting, with a lot of the focus on death.
The world-building was interesting, and the writing did a great job of setting the tone of the time period. I loved the idea of faerie reapers that helped ghosts cross over into the afterlife, and it was presented in a really fascinating way with the mysteries surrounding them slowly unfolding over the course of the story. In general, there was just enough background information to make the world feel real without overloading the reader with extraneous stuff. It left me with an appreciation for the setting and an interest in learning more about it.
I liked the characters well enough, but I didn’t feel much of a connection to most of them. I didn’t care for the writing of the dialogue of the two leads, Abigail and Mercy. The dropping of d’s and g’s at the end of words to create their accent got on my nerves, and I never really got over it. I came to care so much about Hugh, though, and he was probably my favorite character. The romance between Abigail and Mercy was quite subtle for most of the book as Abigail slowly discerned her attraction to women. I didn’t feel a ton of passion between them, and I usually prefer a bit more banter between love interests than what was provided here. I did appreciate the queer representation, though, especially since it was even more than originally met the eye.
The ending is what bumped this book up to 4 stars for me. I did not see the twist coming AT ALL, even though it is ridiculously obvious with hindsight. In general, the last 20% or so was fast-paced, twisty, and provided a satisfying conclusion for each of the characters. Therefore, I do recommend the book if you enjoy fairy tales with moral lessons, musings about death, and/or regency era vibes.