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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Shadow of the Lost: A Novel in the Jewel of Life series by Ryan D. Gebhart is a captivating fantasy with a strong and deftly written conflict. When we meet Jaerol Solaris and Kiron, they are a very happy couple, having spent the night before together and looking forward to the great tournament, little knowing that they will have to face each other. Shocked when they discover that they are paired, they know one of them must die. Jaerol wants to elope with his boyfriend, Kiron. But it is too late when Kiron gets his lover, Jaerol, to kill him. What follows is a painful journey filled with guilt, self-loathing, and the struggle for emotional healing. Can Jaerol ever love anyone else again? Can he overcome the loss and trauma and open his heart to someone else?
There is so much to enjoy in Ryan D. Gebhart’s Shadow of the Lost, especially the meticulousness and the skill with which the protagonist is written. The reader is immediately pulled into his world and the reversal he makes from someone reveling in love to one tormented by guilt and hatred, not only for killing his boyfriend but equally for those who made him kill Kiron. This makes the narrative poignant and immersive. The author skillfully explores the mindscapes of the protagonist, giving readers a picture of his psyche. The internal conflict is powerfully written, following Jaerol as he struggles to move on. Even him going to the temple will touch emotional chords in readers. The characters are rock-solid and one of my favorite characters was Liam. I enjoyed the way the author writes the relationship between Liam and Jaerol. This is a mesmerizing story with themes of adventure, love, loss, grief, guilt, and healing. It is passionate with a setting that is exciting for fans of fantasy.