Published: July 3rd 2014 by Random House AU
Format: eARC, 480 pages
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Raim is no closer to figuring out the meaning of the broken vow that sentenced him to exile for life. But with his former best friend now a tyrannical Khan who is holding the girl Raim loves captive, he finds it hard to care. Every day, he and Draikh learn more about their powers, but it quickly becomes clear that he will never be able to stop Khareh and free Wadi unless he can free himself from the ultimate taboo of his people. Reluctantly, Raim begins the long journey down to the dangerous South, to find the maker of his oath.
In Khareh’s camp, Wadi is more than capable of devising her own escape plan, but she’s gradually realizing she might not want to. The more she learns about Khareh, the more confused she becomes. He’s done unquestionably bad things, horrific even, but he’s got big dreams for Darhan that might improve their dire situation. What’s more, rumours of a Southern king massing an army to invade Darhan are slowly gaining ground. Only if the Northern tribes can come together under a single ruler will they have the strength to fight the South - but what if that ruler is an impulsive (albeit brilliant) young man, barely able to control his ever-growing power, and missing the one part of him that might keep him sane? Whoever conquers the desert, wins the war. And the secret to desert survival lies in Lazar, which is set to become the heart of a great battle once again.
It’s been a long time coming but I finally got to sit down and read the sequel to Amy McCulloch’s The Oathbreaker’s Shadow and it did not disappoint. Witty, magical, and well imagined, The Shadow’s Curse reunites readers with their favourite characters and places while introducing new ones to love.
I love the story-world of this book because of the unique knot magic that they have in the northern lands. When making a vow, Raim’s people tie knots which magically symbolise their promises. When broken, the magic creates a permanent scar which makes the oath-breaker easily identifiable, and causes a shadow to haunt them. The breaking of one of these oaths is the deepest taboo in their culture, and they exile all oathbreakers to the desert.
Raim is still searching for clues about the mysterious vow he broke when he swore allegiance to his best friend (at the time) Kahreh. The broken vow instantly made Raim an exile from his desert lands and he was forced to journey to the desert city of Lamza for redemption. On the way, he met Wadi – a fearsome but compassionate warrior, and Draikh, a part of Kahreh’s spirit that splintered off because of a broken vow. Wadi is now held captive by Kahreh-khan, and Raim is desperate to save her from whatever Kahreh is putting her through.
I loved the level of detail that McCulloch puts into her books. Not only is it easy to imagine the landscapes and people of this world, she also puts a lot of effort into making the cultures of her characters rich and detailed. The different groups that inhabit the desert and its surrounds are distinct and well-described, and liked spending time with all of them. I also loved the change in structure from the first book: this book is told in dual point of view with Raim and Wadi. I loved being in Wadi’s head and seeing Kahreh from her eyes because she doesn’t have the history with him that Raim does.
The Shadow’s Curse takes readers on an amazing journey across the scorching desert and over the raging sea to the mysterious southern lands where the Golden King prepares to overthrow the Khan. Raim’s quest for answers into the past leads him to some amazing places, and he meets some new people. Lady Chabi is one of the most interesting new additions to the cast, and I liked figuring her out. My other favourite character can’t be mentioned because of spoilers, but they made the story so much better! However, I have to note that none of the new characters impressed me as much as Raim, Kahreh, Draikh, Wadi, Dharma, and Vlad.
The Shadow’s Curse is an amazing sequel and I have enjoyed reading it a lot. I think it is a stronger book than The Oathbreaker’s Shadow and that it will enthrall fans of McCulloch’s earlier book. Fans of YA Fantasy should give this series a try! Although the story of Raim and Kahreh seems to be over, there are still many unexplored avenues that make me hopeful for a sequel or a follow-up series (pretty please?).