Titanian Awakenings

Shadows of Darkness

Young Adult - Fantasy - Epic
400 Pages
Reviewed on 01/25/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Titanian Awakenings: Shadows of Darkness is a work of fiction penned by author Leisl Kaberry in the fantasy, action, and adventure subgenres. It is intended for the young adult reading audience. In this thrilling tale, much of the action centers on the family ties between siblings Matara and Kessaria. As the younger sister struggles in a murky world, her sense of duty to family remains a priority, even at the risk of her own life. The story delves into the complexities of a seemingly peaceful realm facing internal unrest, rising poverty, and the resurgence of forbidden practices.

Author Leisl Kaberry weaves a gripping narrative, crafting an immersive experience for readers that is sure to capture the intended YA audience with its imaginative world-building and multi-sensory descriptive prowess. The plot is fast-paced, easy to follow, and deepens and complicates well as the novel progresses, with Kaberry skillfully crafting suspenseful moments and intricate character dynamics to keep readers intrigued about where life will take Matara, Kessaria, and the others next. The blend of action, societal issues, and personal dilemmas creates a rich and engaging storyline, making it a compelling read with great intricacies that adult readers can appreciate. A particular standout feature of the work for me was the dialogue. This rolls off the pages with a smooth, accessible modernity that YA audiences will love, yet it captures the unique essence of the fantasy world that the author has built, showcasing attitude and charm. Overall, Titanian Awakenings: Shadows of Darkness is a superb series opener that handles its many themes well, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to YA fantasy readers everywhere.

Stephanie Chapman

Leisl Kaberry’s Shadows of Darkness is the first book in the Titanian Awakenings series. The story begins with Nagrin summoning Matara to meet him in Rengal. Nagrin tells Matara that King Vohran wants him as a wizard advisor. Matara agrees as long as his younger sister, Kessaria, can be his apprentice. After an encounter with some greasers, the siblings see their friend, Padicum, and share a camp with him. After an awkward kiss, Padicum and Kessaria refuse to speak to each other. While in Padima, Matara tells Kessaria that Padicum is interested in her. Kessaria struggles with her magic training while she thinks about Padicum. However, Matara is facing something darker than he had expected and spends less time with his sister. Meanwhile, Padicum has ridden to Maclynn after hearing that a slave named Layana may know his mother. What he discovers in Maclynn could permanently change his adventurous lifestyle.
Leisl Kaberry builds intense suspense to support each character’s thoughts and actions. Kessaria feels useless since she can’t master magic as strong as Matara. It was easy to see that she was better skilled at using a sword than her brother. Padicum was the least prejudiced person since he could befriend any of the races. He even had a close relationship with a grouchy dwarf. He was loyal to friends and family, often listening to their problems without interrupting. I saw Nagrin as a highly influential character, even though he doesn’t make many appearances. The supporting characters added to the intrigue of this unpredictable story. Afeclin’s appearance surprised me. The engaging dialogue and different character perceptions made it easy to follow the timeline of events. The cliffhanger ending left a perfect opening for a sequel. Shadows of Darkness will appeal to readers who enjoy fantasy stories with mythical creatures and magic.

Foluso Falaye

Though Kessaria hopes to be a mother and wife someday, she feels content to be in the company of her brother, Matara. However, everything changes when she meets Padicum, who knew her back when she was younger. Her desire for him consumes her and leaves her considering a different path. Unfortunately, Padicum seems to be avoiding her after their spontaneous, awkward kiss. Meanwhile, Matara finds himself struggling to be confident and share his voice in his service to the king. The king, on the other hand, has to choose between dropping his guard and facing the consequences of a fear-based rule. Leisl Kaberry's Titanian Awakenings presents an epic, spellbinding fantasy woven around sophisticated characters and their pressing needs. The protagonists must confront possible deaths, attacks, and daunting conundrums as they fight for love and duty.

Titanian Awakenings hooks you with its mix of intriguing characters and monumental challenges. I kept hoping that Kessaria and Padicum would eventually end up together and stop being hesitant. Since it switches perspectives at a moderate pace, I found the plot enjoyable instead of getting confused with a dizzying pace. The brilliant worldbuilding creates a sense of realism and genuineness that helps you relate to the book's magical atmosphere. Magic can be used to hunt game in this story—no hunting tools are needed. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Also, prepare to picture the events clearly and remember them long after reading as their descriptions are absolutely vivid. Ultimately, Titanian Awakenings compels you to pay attention to every lyrical word and savor the rich blend of politics, love, and magic. It's a book any fantasy fan will be happy to read.

Essien Asian

After defeating the dark lord and his minions, Matara focuses on improving his magical abilities as he becomes more aware of the obligations that come with being touted as the chosen one. Despite his initial misgivings, he takes advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become an adviser to Avanleah's new king after an eccentric royal request from an old friend. He is completely unprepared for the politics at play within the king's inner circle. Matters get out of hand when he realizes his new position comes with hidden challenges. Only time will tell how well Matara acclimatizes himself to his new station in Leisl Kaberry’s Titanian Awakenings: Shadows of Darkness.

Leisl Kaberry’s Titanian Awakenings: Shadows of Darkness follows the story of two young heroes as they come of age in a world filled with magic and misunderstanding. The plot is a continuation of a much wider arc and splits into two halves where Padicum seeks out his mother as Matara works his way around palace politics. The characters are impressively put together and their origin stories are continuously highlighted as the novel progresses, letting the reader fully grasp their motivations and develop an affinity with either of the heroes. The world-building is exquisite as every magical creature has a unique name and an interesting story to go with its introduction. This is obvious when understanding the reason why Arkanara is reluctant to fly over the capital. There's an interesting romantic subplot developing around Padicum and Kessaria that is sure to interest the romance lover. The icing on the cake is the relationships between the principal characters that highlight the complexities of the plot. To a connoisseur of the fantasy genre, Titanian Awakenings is absolute gold.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Shadows of Darkness by Leisl Kaberry is the first book in the Titanian Awakenings series. Twenty years ago, Alkarrien was defeated, and his dark army was banished. However, while the Land of Marrapassa is now living in peace, some people are not happy. People are poor and regularly subjected to pillaging, and renegades are bringing slavery back. Padicum and Matara were only young during the war, but now they are grown. Matara is struggling to stay true to what he believes, but his biggest downfall could be Kessaria, the sister he is utterly devoted to, especially when she is taken hostage. Can Matara find his roots again? Will a new king bring peace to the land, or is all now lost?

Shadows of Darkness by Leisl Kaberry is a compelling fantasy tale, but it’s more than just a story. Aimed at young adults, it’s a story of growth, a story of the very real struggles we face on our journeys through life, and it is a kind of follow-on from the Titanian Chronicles series. Leisl has developed some amazing characters, and her world-building is second to none. The writing is descriptive, making you feel as though you are there, and her writing style just makes you want to keep on reading. This will keep you on the edge of your seat as you follow the fortunes, or otherwise, of the brave adventurers as they find their feet and work out where their hearts truly lie. A wonderful story with some lovely illustrations dotted throughout, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Looking forward to the next one.