Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars
Note: While this review is spoiler-free for the plot of Shadow Heir, it will reference earlier plot points, including the end of Iron Crowned. If you have yet to start the series, check out the VBC review of Storm Born. There’s a reason this series is in our urban fantasy recommendations section.
I was nervous to read Shadow Heir. It’s true. If you read this blog regularly you know a few things about me. Namely, Richelle Mead is one of my favorite authors and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the emotional rollercoaster she likes to make me endure in her novels. Also, there was a bit of saying goodbye here as Shadow Heir is the final Dark Swan novel. (Mead closed out her other adult series earlier this year.)
The ending of the third book, Iron Crowned, left me agape. I wasn’t surprised about Eugenie being pregnant, but at Kiyo’s behavior following it and the potential for Dorian to really step up and return to Eugenie’s side. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil anything in Shadow Heir.)
So, I let my copy of Shadow Heir stare me down for a bit. So anxious to read it, but worried my favorite of Mead’s adult series wouldn’t give me the closure I needed. When I finally started reading Shadow Heir, there was no stopping. The pacing is breakneck and the gut-wrenching choices pile up. As usual, Eugenie makes choices that infuriate me, but for the most part my fictional BFF Eugenie makes some of her best life decisions yet.
In addition to dealing with Kiyo and the Willow Queen’s determination to kill Eugenie’s unborn children – she’s having twins, remember? – and her in the process, our girl is having a high-risk pregnancy and dealing with some serious drama in the Otherworld. Dorian remains devoted to helping her children, and throughout the novel their interactions ring true for a couple and allies with so much history.
I promised not to spoil anything, but if you were unsure as to if you were ready for more Dark Swan drama, I can promise Shadow Heir wraps you up and never lets go. While I felt Iron Crowned had some obvious plot points, Mead has avoided those moves with Shadow Heir. Some great resolution would happen, and I’d realize I still had 200 more pages to read. Layer upon layer of excellent conflict – and some kickass magic battles – will sate you.
If I’m singing all this praise, why not a full 5-star rating? Well, one of Eugenie’s choices at the very end irked me. The choice is very Eugenie in that it’s not what I want her to do, but more so it left things a bit more open than I expected. When I finished Mead’s Succubus Revealed, the final Georgina Kincaid novel, in August, I felt done with the series. This time I feel a little less closure, but still finished the book a happy lady.
Sexual content: Non-graphic sex scene, kissing