This book, Cloaked in Shadow, is by a fellow book tuber, Ben Alderson and this is his debut novel. I’ve watched Ben’s BookTube videos for quite awhile now and was excited when I learned he was publishing a novel.
The story follows Zacriah Trovirn, a young elven man who is taken to the Elven capital of Thessolina, where he is forced into King Dalior’s new army of shapeshifters. But Zacriah isn’t a shapeshifter. In truth, he doesn’t know what he is. But he does have magic — he knows that — but it’s the kind of magic no other elf has and Zac is well aware that it’s something he should keep from everyone. So he does.
Fearing that the king and others will discover Zac’s strange magic, he attempts to escape and meets the King’s handsome son, Prince Hadrian. Hadrian later agrees to take Zac under his wing and train him for an upcoming duel.
We soon discover that War is brewing between the elven nations with the peace between the kingdoms is crumbling apart. There is also something dark going on within the kingdom — and we learn that not everyone is who we think there are.
The book is a fast-paced — part fantasy, part adventure story and part LGBT romance with plenty of suspense, intrigue, and twists and turns. I felt that the characters were well-fleshed out and the beautifully written and vivid descriptions and stunning imagery were especially evocative.
I’ve read LBGT fantasy romances before: vampires, werewolves, ghosts and even ghouls – but I think this is the first gay elf book I’ve read. The romance was sweet and didn’t dominate the story, once the characters started getting involved. I was happy that it wasn’t Insta-Love but was a rather slow burn.
This book had it all: elves, shifters, elemental magic, healers, empaths, magic, battles, evil schemes, and even a handsome prince.
Now I will warn you that the book takes off to a slow start — the first two chapters were a tad on the boring side, as they mainly consisted of Zac sitting the wagon on the way to Thessolina observing his fellow passengers and the countryside. But once you get past that, the book really takes off and the actin is non-stop.
My only huge niggle with the book was that the last scene ended rather abruptly and with a cliff-hanger and for those of you who’ve watched my videos, know that I hate cliffhangers.
There were also a couple of instances where the characters used modern language which kind of yanked me out of the story. One of characters said something was “fucked up’ and in another chapter said something was “bullshit” which was not only out of character, but seemed out of place to me in this setting.
But regardless, this was a compelling story with a unique plot, snappy dialog, fun creatures and an interesting cast of diverse characters that kept me turning the page. I felt that the author did an excellent job with the world building and I felt Zac was a complex and multi-faceted character. I enjoyed Ben’s writing style and look forward to reading more by him.
You can check out Cloaked in Shadow here at Amazon.