#SPFBO Review of From the Shadows of the Owl Queen’s Court (Yarnsworld #4) by Benedict Patrick

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ShadowofFrom the Shadows of the Owl Queen’s Court is the fourth book from Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld and is a book that can be read as a standalone.  This is one of the titles on my list of books for the SPFBO competition and was one of the books that I decided to roll forward after having read the first 30% with the idea of reading and reviewing fully.  In this respect I have 5 more reviews to follow which I’m hoping will be in fairly quick succession followed by a post to reveal my semi finalists and the book I will be taking to stage two of the competition.

The story follows two main characters, Nascha and Bradan, both will find themselves on a magical journey and their paths will eventually cross as they try to help each other through the forest.  Nascha serves in the castle, she has developed an unusual friendship with the Queen’s daughter, Princess Laurentina, although it’s a fragile friendship at best.  Nascha has her own secrets, for example, every month she takes poison, it’s not exactly clear whether this is something that is forced upon her or is taken willingly but what is clear is that Nascha is hiding and the reasons why soon become apparent and place her in danger.  Nascha’s only option is to flee the castle with the aid and protection of a stranger called The Gentleman Fox.  You could say out of the frying pan and into the fire and you wouldn’t be far short of the mark.

Bradan lives in the forest, his father has assumed some of the magic of the Magpie King and he protects the people of the forest.  The magic he has taken on his slowly poisoning him and he is slowly descending into madness and rage.  Bradan lives in the shadow of his father, he is desperate to be able to help and relieve his father but no parent would want that for their child and Bradan’s father is no exception.  He keeps Bradan away from the magic but this doesn’t keep Bradan from seeking other ways and means of gaining power for himself.

I won’t go into the plot further, both Bradan and Nascha will face danger and both will make difficult choices.

This is a story that is full of atmosphere, I enjoyed the writing style and the time spent in the forest which is a foreboding and cruel place to live.  I think the really winning elements to this story are the arcs that both characters enjoy and the way the story is sprinkled with folktales that pull the story together.  I loved these tales, they’re so imaginative and work really well with the overall storyline – I confess I eagerly awaited each new story.

The writing is really good, it has a certain simplicity that allows the world here to shine through, the forest is a scary place, full of different magics quite often competing with each other.  BP has a certain way with words that easily brings the forest to mind.  On top of that this is a confident display, it’s creative and strangely alluring, sexy for want of a better word.  I would just throw in at this point that there is a wedding scene that has to be one of the most unusual things I’ve ever read – you’ll know when you read it exactly which scene I’m referring to.

In terms of criticisms, I don’t really have much.  I had a slight dip in the middle of the read but not enough to really slow things down for me.  I wouldn’t say that we really spent a lot of time in the Owl Queen’s Court but then again this is called ‘In the shadows of’ so that explains that and to be honest I far preferred the time spent in the forest.  I do think that this would have been even better had I read the other books from the Yarnsworld series.  To be clear, this can be read as a standalone, but I think it maybe lacks a little of the fullness or complexity that comes with reading all the books in a series.

Overall, though, I thought this was a really good read and I will certainly read more of this author’s work.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.