First let me say, I am a huge J.R. Ward fan! I absolutely LOVE the brothers and am obsessed with all things BDB [Black Dagger Brotherhood] related. The Shadows [book 13 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series], however, has left me feeling conflicted and verklempt. This is a difficult review for me to write, I’ve literally attempted to write this more than a few times. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no way for me to review this book without spoilers.
If you haven’t read it…and don’t want to be spoiled…don’t read past the Spoiler Alert caption below!
The Shadows has a ton going on… besides Selena, Trez and iAM, we get other POV’s from Layla, Xcor, Rhage…just to name a few. I usually enjoy the multiple POV’s that are evident throughout this series, but there are way too many going on in The Shadows.
Some new characters are introduced. We finally meet the princess of the s’Hisbe…ya know, the one Trez is supposed to mate! We also meet Paradise and Craeg, the main characters of Blood Kiss [book 1 in the new BDB spin-off series, Black Dagger Legacy], which will be released December 1st of this year.
There’s discord in the BOB [Band of Bastards]. We get an inside look at the dysfunction of this group and a pretty big plot twist happens which will leave you wondering what the future holds for the BOB and the brothers.
And of course, there is Trez and Selena. Such a beautiful love they have. She truly brings out a side to Trez that we have never seen.
There’s a lot of ground to cover but before I say more, I must warn you there will be MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
So, with that said, let’s start…
First, I have to celebrate the fact that iAm finally gets him some lovin’! YEAH BUDDY! It’s about damn time too. I am just beyond thrilled that iAm got busy. It was a love connection too and not just a wham bam thank you ma’am…but it’s with none other than the freaking princess of the s’Hisbe! iAm goes in search of records that could possibly help his brothers love, Selena, with her condition. While breaking into the palace in search of those records the Queen’s guards capture him and hold him captive. Maichen aka Catra, the princess of the s’Hisbe, takes a liking to him. Disguised as a maid, Maichen sets out to help iAm but without reveling her true identity. That comes later in the book and while iAm was pissed that she lied, they get passed it and iAm gets his HEA. I don’t know about y’all but I think it’s beyond over due for iAm to start living his own life and get out of his brother’s shadow [no pun intended]. Even though iAm and Maichen were secondary characters in The Shadows, they have a lot of page time. I feel they should have had their own book separate from Trez and Selena’s.
Layla is having twins! Qhuinn and Blay still don’t know about her secret meet-ups with Xcor. Layla and Xcor clearly have a thing for one another and I loved the little glimpses into their ever progressing ‘friendship’ but it all went to shit in this book. Xcor is having a hard time getting a grip on his emotions and feelings for Layla. He clearly has self-esteem issues which is kind of amusing for a big ole bad guy. I don’t understand where Ms. Ward is going with their story. She really ruined it for me, having Xcor get with a prostitute. WHY??? Ugh…who knows what the future holds for these two.
Throe leaves the BOB after a major conflict arises between him and Xcor. A conflict that has everything to do with Layla and Xcor’s secret [not so secret] attraction. I’m sure this will play into another attempt to overthrow Wrath from his throne…
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty…Selena and Trez.
Selena is the fade. Yes, the WARDen killed off the heroine. Burnt her body and killed her DEAD! No miracle cure, no divine intervention, no coming back as a ghost…she is just plain DEAD and GONE!
Really J.R. Ward? REALLY?
I understand not wanting a predictable ending, I even understand for every character there is not a HEA but why kill off the heroine? Why get your readers so vested in these two particular characters and end it like that?!?
The love story between Trez and Selena is a truly beautiful one. Tragically beautiful, but beautiful all the same. You get to see a tender, vulnerable, unconditionally devoted side to Trez. Selena is his ONE and ONLY true love. I loved getting to see this side of him and he truly makes Selena's last days so special.
Selena was battling a crippling disease that afflicts some of the Chosen, called the arrest. It's incurable. But we have seen miracles happen throughout this series. Mary for one, was battling cancer and had a death sentence but the Scribe Virgin stepped in and saved her, so Rhage got his HEA...Jane died but she get's to live as a ghost to be with Vishous, so they got their HEA. Where the hell is Trez's HEA??? Trez is left, a shell of a man without his beloved Selena!
I have tried to come to a conclusion as to why? But I have nothing. I don't foresee Trez getting a second chance at love like Tohr did. That just doesn't feel right. Trez can't go through with his initial thought of offing himself in the wake of Selena's death, because 1) Selena made him promise that he would go on living without her and 2) if he did kill himself he would not make it to the fade, where Selena is waiting for him. So what am I supposed to wish for Trez? Death? Is this really what these books have come to now?
The ending really threw me for a loop. I honestly thought someone would come through at the end and Selena would be saved. All the characters were so vested in trying to find a way to save Selena. We even leave this book with Rhage having serious survivors guilt because his Mary and Trez doesn't get that same happily ever after. Poor Rhage is an emotional mess stricken with panic attacks and a sense of doom.
I don't understand the direction Ms. Ward chose to take with this book. I wonder if J.R. Ward is getting burned out on the series. I truly hope that is not the case but the last 25% of the book left me feeling like the author's interest in the story was waning.
Only time will tell...