The Secrets of Shadowcrest

Fiction - Fantasy - General
364 Pages
Reviewed on 04/26/2024
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Author Biography

Lance McColgan received his bachelor's degree in political science from Thomas Edison State University, New Jersey in 2016. He lives in the scenic Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where he founded his own online business to design board games and craft stories that are both wholesome and compelling.

What began as a short story to provide background lore for his up-and-coming board game grew into a full-length novel: The Secrets of Shadowcrest. Lance hopes to continue writing stories about the magical land of Cabalia for years to come.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Gaius Konstantine for Readers' Favorite

Intrigue, adventure, and magic await readers in The Secrets Of Shadowcrest, an enthralling novel by Lance McColgan set in the Middle Ages. William Steele, a loyal subject of the king of England, is entrusted with a vital mission to travel to a land hidden by magic and retrieve the items his king needs to fend off a rival claimant to the throne. William arrives at his destination, but what should be a simple task becomes a series of dangerous escapades with his new-found acquaintances, Brinwin and Zala. Brinwin has a history and the authorities are after him, while his sister Zala becomes a different quest for William, one of the heart. Willam will find more than he sought and realize that when you serve another, you sometimes forget to serve yourself.

The Secrets of Shadowcrest by Lance McColgan is a captivating tale that evokes a sense of wonder. Although the plot may seem straightforward at first glance, it is anything but, and it took me by surprise. By utilizing subtle hints and leaving gaps in the lore, Lance offers an original and majestic world-building experience that made me want to learn more about this peculiar land. As a result, reading this novel was deeply immersive and exceeded my expectations. The character development is also one of its strong points as the individuals in this tale are fascinating and range from heroic, quirky, and snarky to utterly evil. For fantasy fans thirsty for a magical story that offers insights and a different perspective on good and evil, The Secrets of Shadowcrest will hit the spot like a cool glass of water on a hot summer day.

David Cameron

The Secrets of Shadowcrest is a fantasy by Lance McColgan that mixes historical England with the hidden fantasy island of Cabalia. After the death of King William, without a son and heir, civil war broke out, but finally, an accord was signed and peace returned. It is now 1153 AD and England is again on the brink of war, as the treaty agreeing on the succession is on the verge of disintegrating. King Henry II sends Sir William Steele in search of the magical island of Cabalia to enact a deal with the fearsome House Shadowcrest. The magical artifacts he is to obtain will give Henry a monumental advantage in the upcoming war. On reaching the town of Elkreath on Cabalia, William meets Brinwin and his warrior-mage sister Zala. Still, all is far from straightforward, and William is in danger. Provided with a safe haven, he is hidden amongst the Essari but is pursued by Inquisitor Telnis Raiko.

Lance McColgan has created an original fantasy that is broad in history, landscape, and mythology. This is a slow-burn book as we learn about the major players, their backgrounds, and their roles in the conflicts and intrigues. William Steele and Zala’s relationship is handled skillfully and is thoroughly believable. The Secrets of Shadowcrest is not a gore-fest and the author steers clear of graphic violence, but the story is none the worse for it. Themes of duty, honor, and betrayal are explored in a magical context. Interesting characters, monsters, and a spectrum of races, tied in a web of intrigue, romance, and larger-than-life characters, make The Secrets of Shadowcrest a fantasy well worth dipping your toes into.

Nino Lobiladze

In The Secrets of Shadowcrest by Lance McColgan, Henry II and Stephen of Blois compete for the throne of England. Henry makes a deal with the mysterious House Shadowcrest that rules one of the five kingdoms on the magical island of Cabalia. Lord William Steele must bring two sets of armor made from shadesteel, a secret alloy of House Shadowcrest, to make a trap for Stephen and enhance Henry's chances. But Stephen is also interested in shadesteel and sends his man to Cabalia. After a dangerous journey, William reaches the city of Elkreath. On his way to the meeting with his contact from House Shadowcrest, William sees that someone is suddenly ablaze. As Elkreath's Council of Inquest sends its officials to detain William for a murder he didn't commit, Brinwin Zikennig, an alchemist from the powerful Azkalah organization, helps him leave the city. Will Lord Steele fulfill his duty and return to his ship in Elkreath's port in time?

In The Secrets of Shadowcrest, Lance McColgan offers exceptional world-building, which includes the race of inventors called Essari and their unique way of speaking. McColgan creates multilayered characters. I like that William is not a superhero. He bears old scars and traumas and tries to be a good father to his only son. William feels insecure and awkward in a world where he is an unwanted guest. Brinwin, or Brin, can be arrogant, yet his courage, resourcefulness, and upbeat spirit are legendary. Brin's sister, Zala, is spontaneous and funny. A strong woman, she remains good-natured despite the injustices she has suffered. The book has an interesting subplot regarding Inquestor Telnis Raiko. McColgan crafted a witty intrigue around William's mission in Cabalia, with the honest and dedicated Inquestor Raiko shedding light on it. The action-packed, intense scenes are cleverly balanced with the haunting descriptions and meaningful faith reflections. I highly recommend this captivating book to fans of fantasy, adventure, and historical fiction.

K.C. Finn

The Secrets of Shadowcrest is a work of fiction in the fantasy, adventure, and historical fiction genres. It is suitable for teen and adult reading audiences and contains some mild fantasy violence and references to death. Penned by author Lance McColgan, this enchanting story transports readers to 1153 England, where faithful knight Lord William Steele embarks on a secret mission to the mysterious Island of Cabalia amidst civil unrest. However, his journey takes an unexpected turn, leading him to navigate through a landscape fraught with danger and intrigue. Along the way, he encounters mercenaries, kings, and mythical creatures while grappling with forgotten histories and timeless truths in his quest to discover the Secrets of Shadowcrest.

Author Lance McColgan has crafted an immersive and multi-sensory journey into a richly imagined world, blending medieval history with high fantasy. The narrative is fast-flowing, creating a compelling sense of wonder and enthusiasm as facets of the historical setting and fantasy blend to form a credible and exciting voyage of discovery. The exploration of themes such as faith, love, and duty is subtle and slow-burning, creating deeper emotional resonance the further one reads, prompting reflection on timeless human experiences through William’s eyes. McColgan's vivid storytelling and lighthearted humor make for an engaging read that knows just when to switch from its wide-eyed adventure viewpoint into deeper, more hard-hitting emotional trials and really catch readers off guard. Overall, The Secrets of Shadowcrest is a highly recommended fantasy offering both thrilling escapades and thought-provoking insights into what makes a hero truly heroic.

Priya Mathew

The Secrets of Shadowcrest by Lance McColgan is set in the period of civil unrest in the mid-12th century in England. Lord William Steele sets out on a secret mission under King Henry II’s orders to the enigmatic island of Cabalia. The island is full of people who possess magic and mystical powers. His plans take an unexpected turn, leading him and his new friends on a dangerous adventure that exceeds his wildest imagination. Among his companions are Brinwin Zikennig, a mercenary with his own plans, and his spirited sister, Zala. They encounter scheming monarchs and mythical beasts during their adventure. As William travels into the island’s depths, he learns more about Cabalia and its ancient secrets. Their journey leads them to the Kingdom of Shadowcrest, where a recipe for crafting shadesteel holds the key to completing the mission. Will William be able to discover the secrets of Shadowcrest and return to England, or will the darkness of Shadowcrest make him part of its secret?

The Secrets of Shadowcrest is a captivating story with a blend of medieval history and fantasy, taking readers into a world filled with magic and mystery. The gripping momentum of the plot kept me hooked until the final pages. Lance McColgan takes time to vividly describe the landscape of Cabalia and the strange and interesting creatures that William encounters in his travels. I especially liked the various potions and tools that helped the trio in their mission. McColgan shows attention to detail in the narrative by including a translation ring early in the adventure to facilitate seamless communication among the characters. The plot has unexpected twists and moments of humor, even in the face of danger. This story of self-discovery and survival made me contemplate the concepts of faith, love, and duty and how it could mean something different to each of us.


"Secrets of Shadowcrest" appears like a exciting combination of records and fantasy, promising an epic journey full of intrigue, risk, and discovery. With its wealthy international-building and exploration of undying themes, it is sure to captivate readers in search of journey and depth in identical degree.