Book Review: The Shadow Glass by Rin Chupeco

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Tea is a bone witch with the dark magic needed to raise the dead. She has used this magic to breathe life into those she has loved and lost…and those who would join her army against the deceitful royals. But Tea’s quest to conjure a shadowglass—to achieve immortality for the one person she loves most in the world—threatens to consume her heart.
Tea’s black heartsglass only grows darker with each new betrayal. And when she is left with new blood on her hands, Tea must answer to a power greater than the elder asha or even her conscience…

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I am struggling to write this review with tears in my eyes because I can’t believe this amazing trilogy is already over and I can’t experience it for the first time ever again. I’m so happy and sad to have been a part of this reading journey and I have not felt this emotional and satisfied with a series conclusion in a long while. I have a lot to say, so there will probably be a lot of spoilers for both The Bone Witch and The Heart Forger but I will try to be as vague as possible for this one, so proceed with caution.

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I already knew Rin’s writing was spectacular but this book took it to a whole new level. While all of the kingdoms are mentioned throughout the books, I never expected to get the opportunity to travel to all of them but the author ensures we do and this makes for a great journey and an awesome job at more expansive world building – each kingdom unique in its own way. The writing in this book is so layered, each chapter uncovering some manipulation or treachery, the anticipation only building up more because of the way the two timelines are alternately written and surprising us every step of the way. There are liars and traitors in the guise of elders and friends and while I had some doubts, I never could guess their identities confidently. That’s why the reveals had a very high impact. The plot also moves much faster in this book because there is a lot riding on Tea’s shoulders, and there are even more amazing action sequences than the previous books. I continued to be impressed but the last few chapters really gutted me but it was also so perfectly tied up.

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There were also enough hints throughout the books which pointed towards the ancient legends of these kingdoms as the knowledge that Tea is seeking and her quest leaves us with many questions to ponder – How far will people go to alter historical accounts to suit their greed? Do we ever really know the truth about our heroes and legends or is everything just embellishment and manipulation to ensure those in power are always able to control the populace? Are we always sure of the intentions of those we seek to follow and believe in? We get many answers but some of them are left unanswered so that they make us think. There is also a lot of destruction that happens in this book but again we are left to think about what’s the line between good and evil, how much of the havoc that Tea wreaks upon the kingdoms is justified because she was compelled to do so – both to protect the truly innocent and also because she doesn’t want her dearest ones to die. Whatever happens in this story, it all comes back to love – sibling, romantic, familial, platonic and everything in between – love compels every action, sometimes true and sometimes misguided but ultimately it’s love that triumphs and I couldn’t be more happier with the way everything wrapped up.

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Call her a hero or antihero, Tea is one of the most compelling and complicated main characters I have read in quite a long time and I’m deeply in love with her. She is consumed by guilt and trauma, is lied to and betrayed and blamed by her closest ones but she still remains steadfast in her goals and I really admired her for it. And whatever she does, she really is full of love, ready to sacrifice all of herself for the sake of her dear ones. And seeing her with Kalen was a blessing to read. He is the epitome of loyalty and courage, always standing with her and protecting her and their love for each other made my heart weep with joy. It’s definitely a romance for the ages and I just wanted more and more scenes with them together.

We see all the other characters together in this book and that was amazing to read. The relationships that Tea has with each of them is precious in its own right and it was very interesting to see how Mykkie, Zoya, Khalad, Kance, Likh and everyone else handled her actions and justifications throughout the story. The Bard is another fascinating character who is unsure about what to make of Tea but is loyal to his task of being a storyteller and brave enough to follow her on her perilous journeys. His actual truth was probably the only one I could guess while everything else was quite suspenseful and I had to wait to uncover it all. I also especially like Tea’s friendship with Khalad and Likh, because they are always supportive of her even when she is wrongfully accused. Likh has been one of my favorite side characters since the beginning, her innate strength in pursuing what she truly wants in life despite lots of opposition being very commendable. She has always fought for her right to be true to herself, and we see her exploring more of her identity in this book and finally deciding on what pronouns she wants to use. I thought the author did a marvelous job of writing about Likh’s transition through the trilogy and the tremendous amount of unconditional support that she gets from all her friends is really very heartwarming. The development of her romance with Khalad was also a joy to read and they had some very cute and hilarious scenes together. We don’t get to see more of Zoya and Shadi’s romance here but they still are going strong and it’s always nice to see two happy young women in love. The other couple that rivals Tea and Kalen in their devotion to each other are Fox and Inessa, stubborn and hotheaded but deeply in love who fight for their right to be together despite all odds. The author really did a tremendous job making us care for every single character and their romances, giving each of them a meaningful arc and I tip my hat off to her.

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What can I say that I haven’t already said in my reviews of the previous books of this amazing trilogy. This is the kind of fantasy I love – characters I fall deeply in love with, expansive world building with its very own mythology that I can picture in my head, dark and deadly magic system and elaborate action sequences that left me gasping, beautifully written swoon worthy romances and ultimately, an ending that made me weep but also left me tremendously satisfied and glad to have read an amazing series. What more could I have asked for. If you are a lover of YA fantasy and haven’t read this trilogy yet, what are you waiting for?

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