Amber in the World of Shades: The World of Shades Series, Book One

Featuring a cursed ring, an evil wizard, star-crossed true love, and a fairy princess, Amber in the World of Shades is a YA fantasy novella mixing many of the traditional elements of the genre. Despite the colourful backdrop to the story and the imaginative mix of secondary characters woven into the plot, I found that the read was lacking the substance that would have kept me hooked.

Among other things, I’m a sucker for a strong protagonist, and unfortunately Amber’s main strength proved to be in getting other people to mount a timely rescue. Without someone else’s intervention in the nick of time, our heroine would have died something like five times in the novella, which wouldn’t have been a problem for me if she’d actually contributed more to her own survival. Her main contribution to the plot was being the catalyst through which a secondary character took their moment in the spotlight, which made her hard for me to relate to.

The plot also felt a trifle simplistic as I read; notably, the level of cooperation to kill the evil wizard that suddenly materialised apparently simultaneously with Amber. Some of the secondary characters, including some fairly kick-ass magic users, had spent up to half their lives imprisoned by this wizard, but within a few months of Amber’s appearance, they’d all learnt to pull together and get rid of him. Between those elements, the story failed to really convince me, and so, with regret, I can’t give this more than two stars.

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