Inheritance of Shadows by A.L. Lester
I received an ARC copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Matty and Rob from “The Gate” (1st volume of the Lost in Time series) are back in Inheritance of Shadows! The book picks up the thread right at where the original short story left the two main characters. This novel also contains the events of the short story (Chapter One: The Gate). And I was really happy to get my hands on this book, because I always felt Matty and Rob’s story was unfinished and wanted a real closure and a happily ever after for them.
I am glad to see that we, indeed, got the full spectrum of the story along with Arthur’s motivation (sort of – but I won’t spoil a thing), partial knowledge of the border and the gate and some general information about how the magic works in this world. And the events are accompanied by the development of Matty and Rob’s relationship; their emotions and love for each other get stronger and deeper as they fight for Matty’s life. It was lovely, thrilling and heartwarming all the way. Let’s see it in detail, shall we?
About the book
The Cover (Goodreads)
The fact that I liked the cover isn’t surprising at all. Every cover of A.L. Lester’s books are neat, well chosen for the story and reflecting the epochs in which the novels take place. And this is exactly the case of Inheritance of Shadow. The clothes the models are wearing are appropriate for the time, the colors tending towards sepia tones, giving off a peculiar beginning of the 20th century vibe.
It’s 1919. Matty returns home to the family farm from the trenches only to find his brother Arthur dying of an unknown illness. The local doctor thinks cancer, but Matty becomes convinced it’s connected to the mysterious books his brother left strewn around the house.
Rob knows something other than just Arthur’s death is bothering Matty. He’s known him for years and been in love with him just as long. And when he finds something that looks like a gate, a glowing, terrifying doorway to the unknown, it all starts to fall into place.
Matty’s looking sicker and sicker in the same way Arthur did. What is Rob prepared to sacrifice to save him?
The answer is in the esoteric books…and with the mysterious Lin of the Frem, who lives beyond the gate to nowhere. It’s taken Matty and Rob more than a decade to admit they have feelings for each other and they are determined that neither social expectations nor a magical illness will part them now.
From this point on there might be minor spoilers so proceed with caution!
Connection to the other books
In chronological order The Flowers of Time is the 1st part of the series, making Inheritance of Shadows the 2nd in the time line. However, the books of the series are not really connected (only Lost in Time and Shadows on the Borders are sequels to each other).
But when reading Inheritance of Shadows we certainly will feel connected to the other books (presuming we’ve already read the other volumes). Because the mysterious book is back, this time owned by Arthur and is passed down to Matty. Matty and Rob are trying their best to crack the cypher in the book and eventually come across Jones’s notes (main character of The Flowers of time). Interesting fact: they think Jones was a male and refer to her as “he”.
After Matty and Rob, the book will be carried through many years until it gets to Lew’s adoptive father then to Lew himself (main character of Lost in Time and Shadows on the Border). So each and every volume of the series are connected through the book.
Arthur: Matty’s late brother. Everybody in the village – along with his brother – thinks highly about him. No one knows about his obsession and his ambitions for power. His intentions might have been pure once – he just wanted to stop the war and save his little brother – but it turned into hunger for power and eventually into self-destruction.
Matty and Rob: Matty is the one suffering from the consequences of Arthur’s power-seeking actions. But unlike to his brother, Matty has no “kias” (magical power), he cannot feel the border or the shimmer as Rob can, and therefore he is totally defenseless against the repercussions of Arthur’s actions. In contrast, Rob possesses a lot of kias, he does not only feel the realm beyond the gate, but can manipulate it along with other phenomenons of our world. And he is willing to do everything in order to save the love of his life.
Lin: is the one sent to the human realm to stop a monster trying to break though the border. He manages to slay it and close the gate with the help of Matty and Rob, and before returning he tries to warn Matty not to “pull” (= use magic) because he has no kias. As readers we will only understand his real meaning later, when he talks to the captive Marchant explaining he wanted to slow down Matty’s withering as much as possible.
Marchant: he was once the best friend and lover of Arthur, they started to seek power together but as Arthur’s got more and more greedy he left, leaving his friend alone in his madness. Then, while trying to save himself from his ex-lover, he got on the other side of the border, becoming the prisoner of Lin’s people.
Strong and bugging points of the novel
Adding Marchant to the story created a good opportunity to show what the realm on the other side of the gate and the magical border is like. Matty and Rob never get to cross the border and the bigger part of the story is happening from their point of view. So it was necessary to introduce a new character, and through his eyes we get a better picture of the people of the Frem, their social system, their way of life. And understandably all of Marchant’s knowledge is partial due to the fact that he is a prisoner on the other side.
However, this raise some questions which unfortunately remain unanswered.
- who’s the one manipulating the border? Lin suspects that the events are set into motion by someone, but knows nothing more.
- Why keep Marchant as a prisoner, why keep him alive?
- He’s told that they don’t want hurt/damage him by severing his ties to the border, but why? They don’t care about humans.
The unanswered questions are bugging me a bit, but I hope that they are leaving the story purposefully open for one more book.
And another huge plus in the story: we can see the start of the emancipation, as women start to break free from an oppressing system of thousand years. We got a female doctor and hear news of girls pursuing their dreams.
This is a very good and exciting read like all the previous books of the series were. The characters are vivid and likable, their struggles are real, as are all their scars marking them, reminding them of the horrible years of the Great War, making them more believable. This is not a war story, the novel is about building a new life together with a precious someone and healing the wounds the past left on their souls.
I strongly recommend this book. You won’t be disappointed, because it’s a five star read and 100% worthy of your time.
- Source of cover image: unsplash.com (André Noboa)
- Source of book covers: Goodreads