The Shadows Between Us / Tricia Levenseller / Review


As the second daughter to a bankrupt earl, Lady Alessandra Stathos is used to being ignored, but that doesn't mean she can't have high ambitions. She won't settle for the younger sons of rich friends that her father would like to see her wed. No, she dreams much bigger than that. She wants to be queen, and her plan is a simple one:

1) Woo the Shadow King 
2) Marry Him 
3) Kill Him and Take His Empire for Herself

The ruler of five nations and counting, no one is entirely sure how powerful the Shadow King is. Countless ladies have been paraded before him, but he has never taken an interest in any before. Until Alessandra. Invited to stay at his court, Alessandra sets her plan in motion, but she is not the only one who would like to see the king dead. As others make attempts on his life, Alessandra must keep the king alive long enough to become his queen--and she must battle with her unexpected attraction to him, too.



Slytherin Romance In the dedication, Tricia Levenseller calls this book a "Slytherin romance," and it certainly lives up to that expectation. Alessandra is cunning, morally ambiguous, and ruthless. She is highly ambitious and willing to do whatever it takes to reach her goal--both the good and the bad. Anyone who enjoys gray-area, toeing-the-line Slytherin energy is likely to enjoy this leading lady and her love interest(s).

Alessandra Building on the Slytherin energy promised in this book, Alessandra is a great leading character. She is confident and conniving. She is excessively amoral in a most entertaining way, and her voice is well rendered. She willingly admits to having committed murder before on the first page, and she is a rare protagonist for YA and in general for her utter unabashed-ness. She is not ashamed of what and who she is. She fully embraces her own identity.

Court Intrigue It has been awhile since I've read a good court intrigue book, and Levenseller's newest novel hits all of the right notes. There are lords and ladies, of course, alongside assassins and conniving councilors. Politics both local and foreign tangle in elegant balls and power struggles among the nobility and the more common folk present at court. All in all, everything that makes a courtly setting good is present here. The scheming, most especially, is fun.


None of the issues in this book are glaring, but this one did stand out from time to time. The sentences tend to ramble, and some of them feel just a bit too wordy, making it easy to stumble. To some extent, this long-winded and high-brow phrasing is part of Alessandra's voice, so the wordiness does not often pose a problem. A few times, though, it felt a bit excessive, and I got tripped up. Stumbling Sentences

I had no problem with this myself, but I imagine others might. If you come into a book looking for characters who grow and change as the story progresses, this probably won't be the book for you. These characters are well-written and entertaining as is, because it is just fun to follow unapologetically wily and murderous people. Personal growth and change, however, are not prominent features. No Growth

I am all for women shedding the repression of the social strictures of the past, and in that vein, I am all for sexually-liberated women. Sometimes, however, Levenseller gets a little heavy-handed in promoting this agenda. This is not often a problem--in fact, I only found one passage that really felt like it was too much--but there is a certain preachy nature to this particular vein of the narrative nonetheless. Heavy-Handed Feminism



Those who enjoyed the scheming of the murderous bride in Rosamund Hodge's Cruel Beauty should check out this new cunning bride-to-be. Anyone missing the immersive and conniving court life of Sherwood Smith's Crown Duel should check out this new court of deadly balls and wicked gossip.


Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Date: February 25, 2020
Series: The Shadows Between Us
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