Early Review: Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead (Dark Swan #4)


Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead (Dark Swan #4)Shadow Heir (Dark Swan #4)
Richelle Mead
Published: Dec. 27, 2011 (Kensington)
Purchase at: Book Depository, B&N or Amazon

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

12 Responses to “Early Review: Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead (Dark Swan #4)”

  1. Pamela R says:

    I have been waiting for this book for ever, at least in my mind it feels this way. I’m so scared to read it, but I’m waiting for the 27th like a little girl waiting for her pony.

  2. Vicki says:

    I am so excited for this book! Richelle Mead is definitely one of my very favorite authors and I can’t wait for it to show up next week!

  3. Heather says:

    I’m so excited for this book!

    I’m concerned about the open ending remark though. A trend has been present in a few of my finishing series: HEA are overrated…the girl ends up with no one.

  4. Judith says:

    I’m also a fan of Richelle Mead. From what I remember, I’ve got to say your review of Succubus Revealed was right on. Thanks for the review, I’m looking forward to reading SH.

  5. DeAnna says:

    I have been waiting on your review because like you I feared the Kiyo vs Dorian thing. You are kinda scaring me with the ending though…because I am guessing she doesn’t truly commit *may be my imagination.


  6. Melliane says:

    It sounds so good! I can’t wait to read it, thanks for the review

  7. Carol says:

    I finished the book last night and agree with the review. Don’t agree with Eugenie’s decision at the end!

  8. Janna says:


    First, I want to say I couldn’t put this book down. I was in it, DEEPLY in it. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. Wondering what was going to happen next. The plot twist that took place near the end blew me away. I was so happy with how she managed to pull Eugenie’s future out of the quagmire. I literally did a happy dance. I don’t do happy dances. So, when I got to those last few pages………

    I want to scream. You are right. Happily ever after…..for now. The final decision/book twist at the end was so hypocritical and just so wrong that its eating me alive. It will destroy any happiness she has built and it will forever ruin her HEA. It has destroyed my belief in a character that I have loved and faithfully followed since the beginning. So sad.

    So very sad.

  9. Huntress says:

    I loved the series by my former favorite author. NOte ‘former’.

    Up to the ending, I was onboard the Eugenie train, happy as I could be. When the first secret popped out, I actually yelled, startling hubby and cats alike.

    But Mead’s decision to end the book so badly killed any enthusiasm I have for this series or anything else she might pen.

    The ending was ragged and wrong on so many levels. The reader shouldn’t leave the writer’s world feeling betrayed and outraged.

  10. zinnia says:

    ugh I agree! I loved the book until the end!! if it had been a paperback i would have thrown it across the room, but it was my brand new nook tablet, so i barely restrained myself….barely.

  11. monny says:

    It’s so unfinished.What will happen with the children ? Is she going to tell Dorian or no ? I want to know so much.

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