This Chicks Audio Review: Cast In Shadow (Chronicles of Elantra #1) by Michelle Sagara

This is the first novel in the Chronicles of Elantra series and was published in 2011. I think that was around the time I first read the book. The series now numbers up to sixteen and I think the seventeenth comes out this year. I read so many books in a year that it’s often hard for me to remember details but I do remember really liking this book and when I glanced at the audiobook and saw that Khristine Hvam narrates the series I knew I needed to go back and do a re-read. She is the narrator of Faith Hunters Jane Yellowrock and Soulwood series and I’m a HUGE fan of how she portrays characters. This, combined with the fact that I only read up to about book twelve in the Chronicles of Elantra made me eager to get started.

This fantasy series has everything. An intriguing main character who is somewhat of a mystery to the reader, a unique world and fabulous world-building by the author, and just a hint of a traumatic back-story that makes me want to read and explore this world and characters. Kaylin is only twenty years old but has survived a tragic upbringing. She was an orphan living in a dangerous area of Elantra called Nightshade where dangerous ferals roamed, and a murderer was killing children. Now a young adult, Kaylin is a Hawk, an officer who patrols the streets and protects its citizens. She finds that the murderer is back and more children like are being killed. She is partnered with her old friend from the fiefs, Sevren, and she has to fight her mistrust and also explore her past in order to defeat this threat from the past.

Kaylin is such a complicated character. She has magical powers that she doesn’t understand and can’t control and is somewhat of a loose cannon emotionally. She is disrespectful and mouthy but has gained the respect of her peers, made friends, and has a heart of gold. One of her gifts is as a healer, which she uses to midwife and help children be born safely, so children are her kryptonite which makes finding this killer very important to her. When Sevren shows up out of the blue, Kaylin fights her past emotions. Seven years ago he was her protector but he betrayed her in a way that she’s not sure she can forgive, but as they work together she finds herself drawn to him as she was as a child and he is to her as well. Their friendship is one of the greatest best friend portrayals in a series. It carries them down the road of heartache but also to redemption and understanding. It’s the heart of this novel.

In this world of Elantra there are many different races all living together, dragons, the immortal Barrani, Aerians who have wings and fly, and the Tha’alani who are tentacled and can read minds. This first novel helps lay the groundwork for Kaylin’s emotional growth, but also her relationship with friends, mentors, and enemies from all of different races this world holds. This novel in itself is great, the mystery is good, but I know this is only the set-up to greater stories ahead. I completely enjoyed re-emerging myself in this world and loved listening to Khristine Hvam’s take on these characters. On to book #2!


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