Shadowlark by Meagan Spooner

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Shadowlark by Meagan Spooner

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Satisfying second book in a dystopian trilogy about a ravaged world surviving on the magic of a few. The eternal question: is it ever ok to sacrifice the few for the many?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Corgi
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0552565571

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Lark escaped the city of her birth after being tortured and stripped of her magic by its architects. Lark's post-apocalyptic world runs on magic and there isn't enough of it about. So Renewables - people whose magic will replenish after it is drained - are in demand - not as people but as a resource. But the architects have made Lark different. She can drain the magic of others and use it herself. We last saw Lark when she escaped the Iron Wood and went in search of her missing brother Basil.

Accompanied by her mechanical pixie, Nix, and followed by both Tansy and Oren, Lark makes her way to the underground city of Lethe. It's not an easy journey. Shadowpeople are all around and Oren is in constant danger of transforming himself - there just isn't enough magic around to keep him going. Lark is still struggling to come to terms with her power. And Lethe presents its own set of problems. Renewables are no better off there, required to sacrifice themselves as power sources and persecuted by a mysterious leader called Prometheus.

But there is hope. The resistance in Lethe are fighting to liberate the Renewables. And they have Basil's journal...

I think the third book in this trilogy will be all about how Lark's world actually came to be as it is - ruined and only kept going by scarce supply of magic. I'm looking forward to it because my main problem with this series is that I just don't get the premise. I like the characters. I like the action. I like the writing. But I don't quite get it. Has Lark's world always had magic? Or did magic suddenly pop up somehow as a response to an apocalypse? Or is it something else altogether? This mystery doesn't so much feel mysterious: it feels frustrating. Also, there is a big plot twist at the end of the book which I had worked out long before the reveal. It felt telegraphed.

Otherwise, Shadowlark is hugely enjoyable. Lark grows as a central character and, while she makes mistakes that haunt her, she also develops her strong sense of right and wrong and begins to understand that if she learns to control her terribly destructive magic-sapping power, she can use it for good. And she's prepared to sacrifice anything - even herself - for that. I also liked the way Spooner moves the focus away from a love story. Lark's feelings for Oren are always there, hovering in the background, but there's precious little time for kissing in the action-packed narrative. I'm glad it wasn't shoehorned in.

The standard of writing is great too, with some wonderful descriptive passages. And who could resist Nix, the mechanical pixie with its snotty attitude and smart tongue?! Despite the reservations above, I am really enjoying this series. I like the notes of steampunk and I like the idea of magic suffusing a dystopian world. And I like a book whose prose manages to be both smooth and gripping, which Shadowlark does with ease.

If Shadowlark appeals, I think you might also enjoy the fabulous Incarceron by Catherine Fisher and Escape from Genopolis by T E Berry-Hart.

Buy Shadowlark by Meagan Spooner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shadowlark by Meagan Spooner at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Shadowlark by Meagan Spooner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shadowlark by Meagan Spooner at Amazon.com.


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