Son of the Shadows by Juliet Mariller

Son of the Shadows (Sevenwaters #2) by Juliet Marillier
Published in 2000 (this edition 2011) by HarperCollins.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: historical fantasy.

My rating:

Son of the Shadows takes up the story of the children of Sorcha, who saved her enchanted brothers, and Hugh, the Briton she married. Sorcha’s daughter Liadan is a gifted seer and healer who thinks, in spite of her visions, that she knows what the future has in store for her–caring for her dying mother and then an alliance marriage to Eamonn. A chance meeting on the road carries her off to care for a dying man–one of the mercenaries of the sinister Painted Man, Eamonn’s archenemy and a killer for hire. Liadan discovers that she cannot choose whom she loves and that she and the Painted Man are as bound up in destiny as her mother and father were before her.

zmaj-desnoThis is the review for the second part of the Sevenwaters trilogy, so there are sure to be SERIOUS SPOILERS for book one. If you’re new to this series, I highly recommend clicking over to my review of Daughter of the Forest, then going out and buying the damn book, because it’s beautiful. And then we’ll chat! :) For those of you who’ve already read the first book, this review should be quite safe.

Well, I’ve been waiting to write this review for two weeks now – because I can’t exactly put my words into order. I’ll try my best but if I gush excessively, please be gentle. ;)

I LOVED Son of the Shadows. Marillier is absolutely the best author I’ve discovered in the last six months and it doesn’t even bother me that her books are pretty long. I chewed through this one in about four days, which is incredible for my current reading schedule, which consists of stolen moments here and there because my life is crazy.

Daughter of the Forest was a wonderful tale but it was also tragical – so it was interesting to see that Son of the Shadows had a different tone. I liked Sorcha as a narrator a lot, her story was moving and heartbreaking and I rooted for her from the beginning. But Liadan was maybe more to my taste in that she is such a decisive young woman. She makes no apologies for her actions, she stands her ground even against the rules of patriarchy, and is very good at what she does.

I did feel like maybe she was too mature at times for a seventeen-year-old, but then the times were different and girls got married at that age and had babies and everything, so it’s not surprising Marillier chose to make her protagonist as young as her mother was when her story began in the first book.

The love story in this book was as gripping as the romance between Red and Sorcha – and I fell for this guy (I’m not saying who he is because it would spoil everything) along with Liadan. But I loved seeing Red as well, he is such a fantastic character – loyal and loving but also flawed. Ahh.

I like that Marillier isn’t afraid to touch on the dark side of the era – the wars, the mistreatment of women, the treachery, and political intrigue. Of course there is some romanticizing of the past but she really brings the setting to life. And now I want to travel to Ireland as soon as possible.

The mythology – and the magic – is very interesting, too. The old Irish druidic lore is nature based, which I love, and I like the fact that Marillier treats gifted individuals much like she does the “ordinary” folk: they make mistakes, they’re flawed, they’re never all-knowing or all-seeing. Their gifts are unpredictable and though there are prophecies and lots of talk about fate, people get to choose their own path (this is another reason I loved Liadan – she just follows her own gut!).

In any case, you should really give this series a try if you can. I will be reading the last part of the original trilogy, Child of the Prophecy, very soon, I think. I want to know what happens! And Marillier has gained a place among my favourite authors for sure. I really want to give her other series a try.


Have you read Son of the Shadows? What did you think?

Do you have any good historical fantasy recommendations for me? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • I loved this one too. Didn’t knock my socks off like the first one did, but I was definitely not disappointed for continuing, even when I found out about the new pov character. It’s such a gorgeous romance too. I guess I should check out the third book one of these days, is this six-book series split into two trilogies?

    And glad you have discovered a new favorite author in Marillier. She became mine too when I read Dreamer’s Pool a couple years ago :D

    • I think the original trilogy is one set of stories and then the other three follow in some manner but I’m not sure how. I also heard they weren’t as good as the first three, so I intend to read Dreamer’s Pool first and then dive back into Sevenwaters.

  • Jolien @ The Fictional Reader

    I loved it too. It’s been years since I read the first one and this one though. I’ve always wanted to re-read them and continue the series.

    • I really want to buy the third book NOW and read it as soon as it arrives but a part of me knows it’s better to have at least a bit of a break before I do that. I want to give myself some time to breathe – but not so long that I’d have to reread! It’s a delicate balance. :)

  • Maraia

    Yessssss to all of this. Daughter of the Forest has a special place in my heart, since it was the first Marillier novel I read, but Son of the Shadows is my actual favorite. I love Liadan and her love interest. I also agree that it was nice to see Red in this book. Normally I don’t like to see my favorite characters through their kids’ eyes, but Marillier pulls it off beautifully. Gahh, I want to reread so badly, and I even have my own copies now, but there just hasn’t been time! I’ve still barely read since I got home.

    • Yep, the “love interest” might be one of the best love interests I’ve ever read. Though Red certainly holds his own, even now. Marillier is just so talented! It’s one of those instances where I go “OOoohh, I wish I’d written this book.”

      And don’t worry, you’ll get back into reading ridiculous amounts of books in no time. ;)

  • This one was so good. I’m with you on Liadan and Sorcha, the former was such an easy character to relate to. The romance in this one was just so moving too. I love that the love interest for this one was just so different from what we typically see. Your review makes me want to reread this one so bad now. I hope you enjoy the next novel in the series!

    • Yep, Liadan is a fantastic narrator and MC. I mean, Sorcha was great, too, and I understood why she sacrificed herself as she did but it was just harder to relate to her because her experience was so far out of the ordinary (not that Liadan’s life was a walk in the park, mind you). And YES for the love interest – he’s like the opposite of a swoony hero but that makes him even better.

      And I hope to get to the third book soon. I want to have a little breather between this one and the next but I won’t put it off for too long.

  • I’m glad you enjoyed this and you are definitely making me want to get to reading this second book. Thank you for avoiding spoilers for the book (I appreciate that because I haven’t read it yet) and keeping it vague on our romantic interest. I am so glad we see characters from the first book because I was confused how this trilogy was going to work when I was reading the first book because it works so perfectly as a standalone.

    I have been impressed at Marillier’s writing of the past and also her interpretation of the natural magic of the past. Sure she may romanticise the past to an extent, but it’s far more enjoyable that way. If she write how it truly was it would be so much more difficult to respect some of the characters as they wouldn’t me relatable as they mistreated women and people blindly accepted it.

    This most definitely be added onto the list of to buy books. You know, to probably be bought when I don’t have a tower of review books to read… maybe sooner.

    • Haha, I hope you manage to get to it soon, it’s really a great sequel. I was worried about the change of narrator, too, since Sorcha and Red’s story was, as you said, a perfect standalone if you think about it. But it works really well and Liadan is a great character.

      Yes, you know I hate spoilers and if I’d included any, I would have put a warning at the beginning. But it didn’t seem worth it this time – I usually only write spoilery reviews when I want to rant about things. :D

      And you’re right about Marillier’s writing, of course, she is a master (mistress?) of historical fantasy. I also read she is a member of a druid order in Australia, which is really cool. :D

      • I hope I manage to get to it soon too! I need to buy a copy first (why does my library insist on skipping books in a series?) so I’m trying to restrain myself until I have a bit of a smaller TBR pile. Either that or I impulse buy it late one night without thinking.

        I’m pretty confident Marillier will get this right for me but I’m still nervous about it. And insanely excited.

        I completely get what you mean about spoiler filled reviews when you want to rant because it’s so hard to stop yourself. You just want to refer to all those points in the book which angered you and you can’t because that is a significant event which will definitely spoil things for others. It’s so frustrating!

        Is she really a member of a druid order? That would explain how she manages to write things so well. I figured she’d just done a lot of research.

        • Haha, impulse buys late at night are THE WORST. And that Amazon “buy with one click” feature has been the death of my resolve too many times. What, your library has other books in this series but not this one? Maybe you can ask them to order it for you.

          Yeah apparently she’s in this druid order, I have no idea what they do (probably celebrate the land or something). I also don’t know how that functions in Australia, I always picture druids in some sort of lush, cool setting (like IRELAND). But hey, if it fuels her writing and makes it this beautiful, I’m all for it! :)

          • Amazon buy one click is a menace. I seriously should turn it off (which you can in your settings if you’re going one click crazy). I may ask them to order in, they can be hit and miss about what they order for some strange reason. I am trying to be slightly more restrained with my spending but that may just be wishful thinking.

            And I know exactly what you mean. I picture druids being one with nature in like a forest or something so it’s hard to imagine them in Australia.