The Great Drae selected a new apprentice. Xylia’s lost her position.

Determined to reclaim it, Xylia volunteers to become an Authenticator. She travels from town to town searching for children who share her unique gift, and in her free time she practices energy summoning, hoping to master a Shimmerlight skill that will impress the Great Drae.

But there’s a grim side to Authenticating children. When Xylia asks too many questions, she’s cast out of a village during the Dark Month, a time when monsters roam her world. It should be a death sentence, but Xylia’s talents are changing…

Shimmerdark is an exciting YA steampunk fantasy adventure with dashes of social justice, humor, and romance. Perfect for fans of Cinder and Howl’s Moving Castle.

The Review

“Sunlight for the bright month, shadows for the dark. Count the days by moonlight, while hunters roam the world.”

A delightful YA Fantasy with such unique and creative world building, a magical system that was intriguing, excellent character development and a society’s hidden secrets. 

From the very beginning this book caught my attention as it starts off in the dark of a cave with shipwrecked characters hiding from the nocturnes during the dark month. Although it is a little vague at the beginning and you are questioning what is going on and how the world works, it just pulled me in deeper and deeper. I had to know what was happening and what everything meant. That same intrigue carried out throughout the whole story as Xylia kept uncovering more and more secrets that were kept from her and society as a whole. 

There was so much thought put into developing this world and myths around it. It was such a mix of a classic fantasy world and dystopian/post apocalyptic type society. I was transported with the amazing imagery and detail that Mensinga put into painting the picture throughout the whole story.

One of my favorite elements of the story was the magical system- cagic! I thought it was so fun and loved the shapes and what they could do with it, as well as defend themselves. I enjoyed that aspect of consequence that came with the cagic, because sometimes its frustrating when there are no repercussions to magic. The shift in the cagic was intriguing and the background to that was something I wish we learned more about, especially the origin of the nocturnes. They were so interesting, we got to see a lot of them, but I wish we got more descriptions and understanding of the nocturnes.  But Glowy Pony was the best thing from this whole book! I loved the role he played and who isn’t here for a great “animal” companion. 

It was all the little details that just really made the story for me. From making a point of sharing that Xylia’s writing was childish, because she was shipwrecked for 7 years and was a small child when it happened for example. It was Mensinga’s dedication and commitment to being true to the characters that brought them to life. I will say I was annoyed at times with Xylia, but you have to remember she was still a teenager and sometimes teenagers are naive and still figuring themselves out. But the development was put into her and there was so much growth and facing reality that really made her mature. 

Overall I thought Shimmerdark was a solid read that was full of adventure, a unique world and creatures and a look at systematic societal problems that paralleled some of our own real world struggles. Mensinga was able to include so many elements from suspense, action, trauma and a sprinkle of romance. There was even some steampunk-style technology that was used with the cagic that just added to the story and world. The ending was wrapped up, but I would love to see another story in this world, maybe even a prequel to how all the things came about! I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys an intriguing, fast paced fantasy story about self-discovery, friendship and kicking some serious ass! 

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