Hello fellow book nerds! Here is my first review of the year. I was provided a copy of this book by the author and couldn’t wait to dive in. The story sounded so unique and I couldn’t wait to see what it was about. This book was only 192 pages but it was full of adventure! While I wish for a little more background information, it was still very enjoyable.
Let me know what you think,
Map of Shadows
4 out of 5 stars
Taken from Goodreads
A map of skin etched in blood. A world under threat from the Borderlands. A young woman who must risk the shadows to save her family.
When her Grandfather is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Sienna Farren inherits his map shop in the ancient city of Bath, England. Once there, she discovers that her family is bound up with the Ministry of Maps, a mysterious agency who maintain the borders between this world and the Uncharted.
With the help of Mila Wendell, a traveller on the canals, Sienna discovers her own magical ability and a terrifying place of blood that awaits in the world beyond.
But when she discovers a truth about her past and the Borderlands begin to push through the defenses, Sienna must join the team of Mapwalkers on their mission to find the Map of Shadows – whatever the cost.
In a place written out of history, a world off the edge of the map, Sienna must risk everything to find her father … and her true path as a Mapwalker.
I really enjoyed the unique story that was presented. As I read a lot of fantasy, an alternate world has been presented before. The Borderlands world, though, was definitely an interesting approach to this genre. We are given a brief introduction of what this world is in the beginning of the book. A little more than halfway (once Sienna and the other mapwalkers are actually in the Borderlands) is more of the actual world revealed. While I still have a good idea of what the Borderlands entails, I’m still a little confused. There are parts that I grasped – anything undesired or forgotten on Earthside is deposited into the Borderlands – but it doesn’t explain a lot of other things. I am still baffled on a lot of the world. This world was just so interesting that I wanted to know more. There was so much more that could have been expanded on for the Borderlands to fill that need. Since the novel is short, there was too much that was packed into the story. While there was much information omitted, the novel being shorter did create a fantastic pace. Another aspect I really enjoyed in the novel was the different mapwalking abilities. It wasn’t limited to just Blood Magic but we had fire, illustration, and water. Seeing how each ability helped the whole team was fascinating. I have to say the illustration was probably my favorite, and the one I would want.
This was definitely a story driven book which resulted in mediocre characters. Since there was so much information trying to be given in such little pages, the development of the characters and their relationships were practically not there. I didn’t really connect to any of them which left the plot twists lackluster. While I wanted them to succeed in their mission, it wasn’t so much a need for them to win but rather for the story to continue. There was never a bonding moment between them all, except for Sienna and Mila, so their team felt incomplete. I am interested in continuing this series so I am hoping for a better connection with them as it continues.
Overall, Map of Shadows by J.F. Penn was an intriguing read. With a unique world and fast pace, fantasy lovers will devour this story. Since it is a shorter read, there was much additional information that I wish was present to give us a better understanding of the Borderlands world. The Borderlands world was so interesting that I wanted to know more about it. There was much to be desired of the characters as well. A faster pace novel gave little character development. Even though there was no issues with the characters personally, I didn’t feel any connection with them. I recommend this book to readers who are looking for a unique, fast paced adventure with a heavy emphasis on story building.