The Sharpest Blade by Sandy Williams
Series: Shadow Reader #3
Published by Penguin
Published on: December 31, 2013
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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McKenzie Lewis’s ability to read the shadows has put her—and those she loves—in harm’s way again and again. The violence must end, but will the cost of peace be more devastating than anyone ever imagined?
After ten years of turmoil, the life McKenzie has always longed for may finally be within her grasp. No one is swinging a sword at her head or asking her to track the fae, and she finally has a regular—albeit boring—job. But when a ruthless enemy strikes against her friends, McKenzie abandons her attempt at normalcy and rushes back to the Realm.
With the fae she loves and the fae she’s tied to pulling her in different directions, McKenzie must uncover the truth behind the war and accept the painful sacrifices that must be made to end it. Armed with dangerous secrets and with powerful allies at her side, her actions will either rip the Realm apart—or save it.
I’m sad that Sandy Williams’ Shadow Reader trilogy has come to an end but boy, talk about going out with a bang! And, I’m glad that the author didn’t try to milk more books out of this series because the result is three absolutely stellar installments instead of seven+ so-so ones. The story starts off a little on the slow side, McKenzie is finally getting the “normal” life that she’s always wanted but after three long, uneventful weeks she can’t help but jump on the first opportunity that presents itself to return to the Realm.
The plot line of this novel is beyond riveting; the crick in my neck, sleepless night and blurry vision were small prices to pay to finish The Sharpest Blade in one sitting. The remnants are scattered but Lena’s fight for the throne continues when a false-blood begins to amass support with his Tar Sidhe claim. I enjoyed all of the Fae politics that came into play in this installment; there’s far more to being queen than just a strong bloodline. I loved watching the story arc come full circle and the author does a nice job of tying-up loose threads as well. Although, I was a little disappointed that Paige’s Sight Serum dilemma was so easily resolved. I realize that having it end otherwise would have probably added another one hundred pages to this book but I still felt cheated by Williams’ easy out.
This trilogy has wreaked havoc on my fictional boyfriend loyalties; I had the damnedest time picking a favourite and towards the end I was secretly hoping that Kyol, Aren and McKenzie would be the one love triangle that actually worked. The life-bond between Lewis and the sword-master added a whole new level of complicated to an already difficult situation. I wanted to hate him for the way he treated McKenzie over the past 10 years but being made aware of his emotional turmoil through their connection made it impossible. It didn’t help that Aren acted like a fool for the better part of this book either. I was pleasantly surprised by this love triangle’s resolution even though Williams makes readers wait until practically the last page. Talk about sheer torture!
I was happy to see McKenzie come into her own in this final novel; her shadow reading skills make her a hot commodity in the Realm but she’s still human and thus weak. The life-bond that she’s formed with Kyol changes all that. Their link runs deeper than mere emotions, she also benefits from increased reflexes and muscle memory courtesy of the sword-master. She’s still not on the same playing field as the Fae but it was nice to see her holding her own in a fight. Her boost in confidence was evident in her decisions and allowed her to give Aren an ultimatum similar to the one she should have given Kyol all those years ago. I’ve enjoyed watching McKenzie’s progress throughout this trilogy and felt satisfied by the final result.
The Sharpest Blade is the perfect ending to this eventful trilogy with non-stop sword fights, relationship drama and sneaky Fae politics. I don’t know what’s next for Sandy Williams but I’ll definitely be on the look-out for more books from this fab author!