Updated: Aug 22, 2021
The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles #3) by Laurie Forest
Publication Date: June 9th, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Elloren Gardner hides the most powerful secret in all Erthia—she is the Black Witch of Prophecy, and destined to triumph…or be used as the ultimate weapon of destruction.
Separated from everyone she loves, isolated and hunted, Elloren must turn to the last person she can trust—her fastmate, Commander Lukas Grey. With the Mage forces of Gardneria poised to conquer all of Erthia, Elloren has no choice but to ally with Lukas and combine their power to keep herself out of the hands of Gardnerian leader Marcus Vogel…the holder of the all-consuming Shadow Wand.
With just weeks to train to become a warrior, and no control over her magic, Elloren finds unexpected allies among those under orders to kill her. It’s time to step up. To fight back. And to forge onward through the most devastating loss yet.
I read book 1 and 2 of this series a couple of years ago and really enjoyed them. I found the plot interesting, the characters had depth and there was a really great play on paralleling this fantasy world with the real world in terms of social commentary and politics with an emphasis on being open minded and well informed. Those books included lessons, character development, an interesting magic system and world building. I feel like that’s why I’m so disappointed in The Shadow Wand, because it seems to have lost all of that.
The Shadow Wand follows our characters shortly after the events at the end of the last book. It allowed just enough of a time jump to get everyone where they need to be to kick things off… but then not much happens. I found myself very confused in terms of why everyone was doing what they were doing, why we have focus placed on certain characters at all, what the purpose of most of the plots are and why everything was divided into sections that don’t really make sense. In this book, I lost the drive behind each characters motivation and where exactly this series is going. I feel like books 1 and 2 had a very clear vision and this one feels so out of place and almost like it’s from a different series altogether.
I can really appreciate the effort that Forest has put into this world though. She knows all of the places, the political structure, the opposing sides, the different sub-sects of people and what their individual beliefs are. It’s so much to create and keep track of for a writer and I know it’s hard work weaving all of it into a story that is digestible to the average reader and you can tell she’s put a great deal of thought into it.
There’s so much planning with the world/politics but it gets lost with all of the different subplots and characters that you need to keep track of. There’s even a couple page chapter from a certain character’s POV but it’s just a single chapter for a very significant character and the events of that chapter seemed so haphazard that I wonder what the point of including it really was. We needed to have followed that character more leading up to that moment or just get rid of it altogether. I found myself caring less and less for the characters in general due to the sheer number of them and how little their plots actually moved.
And, on that note, it felt like the entire plot didn’t move. Elloren is our lead, she’s the main character that we are meant to feel for and follow the journey of but her entire character arc in this book took place in her last couple chapters. It seemed like their was no point to the first 3/4 of the book and even then she ends off pretty much where she started… except now she has some confidence I guess.
I wish that I had more positive things to say about this installment of the series but it’s diverted so much from proceeded it that it just feels out of place and jumbled. I think this is one of those rare times where I am going to choose to not continue reading a series. I’ve unfortunately lost interest after The Shadow Wand.