Shadows at Stonewylde by Kit Berry

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Shadows at Stonewylde by Kit Berry

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Reviewed by Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Summary: Stonewylde's back with another entertaining read and Kit Berry's writing is as vivid as ever. There's a lot of scene setting, but it means that the next book in the series promises to be a thriller.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: August 2011
Publisher: Gollancz
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0575098893

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When we last left Stonewylde, the community seemed to be on the verge of a period of glorious prosperity and happiness as Yul became the new Magus and Sylvie joined him as guardians of Stonewylde. Thirteen years have passed, and Stonewylde is almost unrecognisable; it hasn't quite succumbed to the Outside World yet, but just how much longer can it remain self-sufficient and resistant to the consumerism and pervasive technology that is characteristic of the rest of the country? Furthermore, the cracks that begin to appear in Yul's and Sylvie's relationship are branching out throughout the whole community, with malcontent brewing, cruelty going unchecked, and sinister hints of a dark presence returning to Stonewylde.

Yul's reign is definitely a fairer one, and the concept of a council of elders, who meet regularly to discuss issues in the community, is a far cry from the tyranny of the old Magus. Furthermore, the divide that existed between the two factions of the community in previous years, the Villagers and the Hallfolk, has been soundly eradicated and is conspicuous by its absence. Stonewylde has become kinder to its children, who now have more freedom and opportunities.

By having the past be a significant factor throughout the novel, Kit Berry maintains a strong connection to the first three books in the series, and ensures that Shadows at Stonewylde remains relatable. It is fascinating to see how characters have grown and matured over the 13 years; Yul's and Sylvie's narrative voices have matured realistically, without losing the essence of their characters, that which made them unique and charismatic, so intriguing to read about. I also enjoyed how the author has brought out many uncomfortable similarities between Yul's Stonewylde and Stonewylde as it was run by the old Magus. As much as he has tried to differentiate himself from the legacy of Magus, Yul finds himself slowly slipping into the very traits that he despised his father for.

Yul is more like his father than he realises and his harsh treatment of Leveret, whose resemblance to a youthful Yul is uncanny, and the erosion of the trust that the community have in him, bring back disturbing memories of Magus. Yul's youngest sister Leveret, barely a toddler in the previous books, plays a major role in this novel. In her wildness, her free spirit, her obsession with the culture, traditions and magic of Stonewylde, Leveret personifies the spirit of the community. She is strong, wilful, and confident in her calling in the world. Unfortunately, her resemblance to Yul doesn't stop with her personality, and her suffering at the hands of her two obnoxious brothers and their psychopathic companion Jay mirrors the trials that Yul faced in the previous novels.

The author's use of a large number of different narrative voices alongside that of Leveret leads to focus being lost at times due to the constant switching between narrators, and there is a temptation to skip the passages depicting the less interesting characters. Words could've been used more sparingly at times, and the pacing of the story often feels burdened. Keeping the majority of the characters from the previous books active, while simultaneously introducing a whole bunch of new personalities into the mix is a brave thing to do, and although it doesn't always work perfectly, it does ensure that there are a whole lot of intriguing plotlines that are developing. I can't wait for some resolutions in the next, and final, book in the series, especially as satisfying comeuppance is something that Kit Berry is excellent at providing.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If you haven't encountered Stonewylde before and feel intrigued about the series, I would highly recommend that you dive in with Magus of Stonewylde. Meanwhile, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, with its stylistic characterisation, is worth checking out for those who enjoyed this novel.

Buy Shadows at Stonewylde by Kit Berry at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shadows at Stonewylde by Kit Berry at

Buy Shadows at Stonewylde by Kit Berry at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shadows at Stonewylde by Kit Berry at


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