Tag Archives: swords & sorcery

The Shadow Realm by Anya Costello Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young girl finds herself transported to another dimension after living in a world in which her parents disappeared and the mysterious Shadow Hour loomed every day over the world, and soon she must fight to survive and find a way of saving both her new friends and humanity in author Anya Costello’s “The Shadow Realm”.

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The Synopsis

A teenage girl is transported to a dangerous realm and must learn to trust others if she and her friends have any chance of survival. The protagonist Amber is a thirteen-year-old girl just trying to keep up her grades and survive the daily Shadow Hour that has taken over her world. Amber has lived with her aunt since the strange disappearance of her parents and the loss of her memories. Left alone with her aunt, trying to move on from the mystery of her parents’ disappearance, and wary of the threat that the Shadow Hour poses to her and everyone around her, Amber becomes fiercely independent and motivated though reluctant to reach out to others or accept help. Only when Amber is swept into another dimension and forced to work with an unlikely group of friends does she begin to open up and realize that she doesn’t need to face the world alone.

In this Hunger Games-like fantasy adventure novel, Amber is banished from the dangerous near future of her own reality to another realm known as the Shadow Realm. There she must survive a series of deadly obstacles in order to save not only herself and her friends, but humanity as well.

The Review

This was such a brilliantly written and imaginative read. The author, a young teen author, showcases an incredible command over world-building and atmosphere, both of which this novel has plenty of. The tension and unique settings of this dark dimension highlight the surreal dangers and newfound threats facing the world, while the action and suspense keep the reader on edge as the journey progresses. 

What really stood out to me as both a reader and writer was the author’s ability to develop complex and engaging mythology in this world of the Shadow Realm and the various creatures and figures that inhabit it, as well as the emotional character development that occurs between the protagonist and other survivors of this world. The mystery of the young woman’s past and family mix with the theme of opening up and letting others into her life, which proves crucial to her survival. The losses and struggles that occur over time as the trials continue to make this story’s narrative feel thrilling and heart-pounding as each chapter plays out.

The Verdict

Harrowing, entertaining, and exceptionally well written, author Anya Costello’s “The Shadow Hour” is a superb new YA Fantasy meets dystopian thriller. The first in what one can only hope becomes a series, the lengthy read starts out strong and never slows down, giving the reader an engaging experience that keeps them invested in the protagonist’s journey and the emotional bonds she forms. The way the author brought the iconic theme of the Hero’s Journey to life in a fresh and brand new way showcases a growing talent in the literary world that will only get better and better as time goes on, so if you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this incredible novel today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Anya Costello is a teen author whose manuscript won first prize of the International Writing Contest of Stone Soup magazine and Mackenzie Press.

Anya says: I have been writing stories since the age of four and at age ten, I attempted my first full length work of fiction, The Shadow Hour. I have always been drawn to writing fantasy and fiction. Building worlds that follow different rules from our own, like the Shadow Realm, and creating the characters that live within them allows me to put aspects of my own life, experiences, and thoughts in an entirely new context.

Anya has been presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair and has received a citation from United Sates Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III.

Anya was born and raised in Massachusetts where she currently resides with her family.

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‘The Shadow Hour’

Eternity’s Mirror (Eternal Chronicles Book 2) by Zachary Hagen Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

As a great evil looms over the world and is threatening to consume it whole, three young heroes continue their quest to the other side of Eternity’s Mirror to find the answers they seek in author Zachary Hagen’s “Eternity’s Mirror”, the second book in the Eternal Chronicles series.

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The Synopsis

Flip the coin and find a whole new world on the other side.

The Circle is uniting the countries of Lux Terra. Elior, Nyx, and Opal are finding that some things have changed as the result of their adventures with Michael. Yrahkaz has been tasked with squashing the growing obsession with Michael.

When an important clue to finding Eliam and fixing Nyx’s and Opal’s problems is given to them, they recruit the help of a disgraced magi-technician to get to him, but their initial success is more then they bargained for.

The other side of the Mirror of Eternity is filled with wonders and dangers they never imagined. Will they still be able to prevail against an evil that is bent on devouring them whole, or will they fall prey to its cunning pursuit?

Eternity’s Mirror is the thrilling continuation of The Eternal Chronicles picking up where Eternity’s Well left off. 

The Review

The world-building in this novel is simply incredible. While I am new to this series and I would recommend reading the first book in the series to really be able to capture the backstory and history of these characters, the author did an amazing job of building a story that could stand on its own two feet and a mythos that is rich with dynamic history and storytelling. The way the setting allowed readers to be brought into a brand new world while seeing how magic and sword & sorcery style storytelling could reflect in a more modern world was incredible to see and made the journey feel that much more engaging.

The character growth was spectacular here. The way the author was able to introduce a wide array of characters to help flesh out this growing mythos while also giving more depth to the main cast of characters, both the protagonists and antagonists alike, was beautifully done. The heart of the narrative really did a great job of balancing out the larger, fate of the world dangers with the more personal character struggles, like Elior’s journey to finding Elliam. 

The Verdict

Mesmerizing, powerful, and entertaining, author Zachary Hagen’s “Eternity’s Mirror” is a must-read novel of 2022 for any fans of epic fantasy storytelling. The rich history and mythos that the author has crafted for this world and the hero’s journey theme that can be found throughout the narrative made this a truly engaging storyline, and the promise of another thrilling chapter with an open-ended final chapter made this a story that couldn’t be put down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Zachary Hagen is a North Carolina based fantasy author and teacher. He lives there with his wife, Claudia, and their dog, Flynn. When he isn’t busy writing his next book or teaching, you can often find him walking around his neighbor hood or up hiking in Hanging Rock Park with his wife and their friends.

From a young age he was enthralled with the world of story. From the stories his parents read to him from his blue bedtime story books (if you know, you know) to the first two series that he read, The Chronicles of Narnia and A Series of Unfortunate Events, Zachary’s tastes continued to develop throughout his years of reading.

The influences for his first series, The Eternal Chronicles, include Christopher Paolini, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and others.

https://zacharyhagenwrites.com/