ARC REVIEW: IN THE SHADOW OF LIGHTNING BY BRIAN MCCLELLAN

The book cover for In the Shadow of Lightning by Brian McClellan

STAR RATING: 4…ish?
PAGE LENGTH576 pages
WHAT SERIES? The Glass Immortals Series
WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? In the Shadow of Lightning
HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? Unknown
CW: Gore, death, murder, blood

IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Thank you to Netgalley and Tor Books for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Magic is a finite resource—and it’s running out.

Demir Grappo is an outcast—he fled a life of wealth and power, abandoning his responsibilities as a general, a governor, and a son. Now he will live out his days as a grifter, rootless, and alone. But when his mother is brutally murdered, Demir must return from exile to claim his seat at the head of the family and uncover the truth that got her killed: the very power that keeps civilization turning, godglass, is running out.

Now, Demir must find allies, old friends and rivals alike, confront the powerful guild-families who are only interested in making the most of the scraps left at the table and uncover the invisible hand that threatens the Empire. A war is coming, a war unlike any other. And Demir and his ragtag group of outcasts are the only thing that stands in the way of the end of life as the world knows it. 

For most of In the Shadow of Lightning, I thought it was your typical, sort-of generic, kind-of-typical fantasy book. And…then I got to the last five percent of the novel, and, uh, everything changed? Now, don’t get me wrong, In the Shadow of Lightning was never boring. It has a fantastic, unique magic system, interesting characters, and a plot that kept my attention. There were little hints, though, throughout the book, that not all was as it appeared. The ending, however, is just bizarre.

Look, I’m going to be completely honest. I’m struggling not to spoil this one, and I absolutely refuse to spoil it, because I feel like it will ruin the book for many people if I do! So if this review is vaguer than it should be, that’s my explanation.

At it’s core, In the Shadow of Lightning is a book about a mystery. Who killed Demir Grappo’s mother, and why? The answer is given, at the very end of the novel, so don’t worry about that. To get there, though, is quite the journey. We travel through an active war zone, through the city streets, and into nitty-gritty situations, all to figure out the why of the murder.

There are four POVs in this book, each bringing their own merits and opinions to the story. There’s Kezzie, a childhood friend of Demir, who he puts in charge of looking into his mom’s murder. Kezzie is frequently badass, and manages to figure part of the mystery out quite quickly. There’s Thessa, the siliceer who Demir rescues and sets to figuring out how to save spent godglass. She is incredibly competent, and she knows it. There’s Idiran, a grizzled warrior who’s going slightly insane after using too much godglass. He’s tired, and ready to retire, but he can’t. Not yet.

And finally, of course, there’s Demir.

Demir is a fantastic protagonist. He struggles with severe PTSD as a result of a backstabbing that killed thousands of people during a war campaign that he led. He frequently borders on being ‘too’ good at what he does, but eh, you forgive him, because he’s rather charming. He reminded me FREQUENTLY of Locke Lamora, from The Lies of Locke Lamora. I wouldn’t be surprised if McClellan was highly inspired by that character. Demir is a glassdancer — someone who can control glass, kind of like how an elementalist can control the elements. People with this talent are generally thought to be extremely dangerous. They are also incredibly rare. Demir doubts himself almost constantly, but it helps pull back on how good he is at, well, what he does.

There’s a lot to like in In the Shadow of Lightning, and I enjoyed reading it. I just wish, maybe, there had been slightly more clues as to where the ending was going. There are some, but they are few and far between, honestly. Overall, somewhere in the four star range…maybe a little over.

IN THE SHADOW OF LIGHTNING COMES OUT JUNE 21, 2022.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE

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