Would you choose to entwine your fate with a hero of the past, even if it meant altering the future?
The murder of an ancient king spurs Sarah Matthews to travel back in time, putting her life in jeopardy as she races against the clock to solve a thousand-year-old mystery and pick up the pieces of her star-crossed romance. Her return to Serimone reveals that the kingdom is in upheaval and that the elusive Cadius has sinister plans for the throne. Unable to right the empire alone, Sarah reunites with Will, the love she left behind and the man beneath the Shadow’s hood. As they work together amidst lavish balls and explore the secret depths of the castle, they discover that the conspiracy runs deeper than they ever imagined. And when a counterfeit Shadow claims the life of someone close to her after a personal threat from Cadius himself, Sarah discovers that the price of questioning the new regime is a life.
Guilt-ridden and alone, she discovers comfort in her newfound friendship with Damien, a charming Spaniard who joins Sarah in her personal crusade for justice. But as she draws closer to his dark past and to the faceless killer in their midst, she realizes that the severed threads of time and the mystery surrounding Serimone Castle are unraveling rapidly, weaving new tapestries of devastation.
In this thrilling and deceptive sequel to "Rising Shadows," Sarah is forced into harm’s way countless times as she races to solve the puzzle before it is too late and Serimone becomes nothing more than a faded memory of the past. . . And before Sarah becomes a permanent fixture in history.
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Chasing Shadows is the second book of Ashley Townsend’s series and what a sequel it is! A month ago I reviewed Rising Shadows, the first book, and loved it. The story only gets better from there! And can we talk about that cover? Have you ever seen such gorgeousness???
Our heroine Sarah Matthews travels from her modern day life to medieval Serimone once more, but this time the stakes are much higher now that the king is dead. The sinister Cadius may push himself to the throne, which would mean the end of happy days for Serimone.
This story gets so much deeper into the setting and characters than the first one. In Rising Shadows we got to meet the characters and catch a glimpse of Serimone, in this one we dive headfirst right into it. I only thought I loved the characters, but I had no idea how deeply until I delved into the sequel.
Sarah, to me, felt as though she had matured since her first adventure in Serimone. Time and time again she risked danger and shoved down her fear to make things right and help those in need. Her heart swells with love for others. Even though it was often hard, she forced herself to step away from her own selfish desires to aid those in need. It was always a treat returning to reading so I could be back with her, inside her head. Her big heart and totally adorable awkwardness was enchanting.
I was a little disappointed on how few times Karen appeared in the story, but it was a delight when the carefree, fun redhead came in the scene. As well as the family she stays with, the Jones’. Each and every one was as charming as always and never ceased to bring a smile to my face.
And we can’t forget the dear Will, who is as quiet but gentlemanly as always. His entire presence felt comforting to me. He’s the type that’s always there to save the day and protect those in harm’s way. But what really tugs at my heart toward this man is his brokenness. He tries to hide it, to keep a wall between himself and others, but what he really needs is someone to lean on. In this book we watched his character be torn down and built back up again to the point that it brought tears to my eyes. His character arc is reason enough to read this tale.
We also get an entirely new character that managed to steal my heart right from the start. Damien is a handsome Spaniard and knows it. Girls have to watch out for his roguish personality, but those who get to really know him soon discover he’s just a fun-loving young man. His cheeky antics amused me time and time again. But there’s more to this lighthearted Spaniard than meets the eye. Townsend’s ability to form such heartfelt character arcs puts me in awe.
All the characters, from big to small, stole a little piece of my heart. I can’t express enough how wonderfully done their stories were told. Each one explored deeper, this book discovering tidbits of their pasts and how each reacts to hardships, heartbreak, tragedy, love. Dark sides within them were revealed, as well as good.
I just love these characters, okay!
The plot was also so engaging, though as with Rising Shadows I felt as if there could have been a bit more there. Cadius, our villain, only came into the story about halfway through and had just two or three brief appearances. I would have liked to see more of him and explore his menacing plots. It was sort of more character driven, focusing on Sarah’s, Will’s, and Damien’s relationships, than plot-focused. But, like I said, the characters are amazing and I adored watching their developments. So nothing wrong with that! But, let me assure you, there was still plenty of action and sinister plots to be had. Sarah found herself in danger many a time. The second half of the book especially had much action to keep one on the edge of their seat. I was devouring pages, dying to know what would happen next and how everything would lay out in the end. It kept my mind churning even when I wasn’t reading, and stuck with me throughout the day.
The setting was also enchanting. Serimone is now in the midst of winter and the imagery of snow-topped buildings, woods shimmering in white, and warm fires inside the castle had me wanting to pack my bags, find a time machine, and go there myself.
What really struck me about this novel was Townsend’s ability to make me feel. Whatever Sarah felt I did as well. My heart literally got to pounding a few times, and tears filled my eyes on multiple occasions. I could see and feel everything so perfectly, the whole story just came alive. This author knows how to tug at her readers’ emotions, let me tell you.
While Rising Shadows kept things on a more lighthearted note, Chasing Shadows explores some heavier subjects, which I thought appropriate. The characters are growing and the danger rising, naturally things would take a darker turn. There is blood, corpses (one of which is burned), and a pretty intense fight or two, also a suicide scene. But Townsend handles everything beautifully and never gets too detailed.
One woman in the story is known for selling herself to men and a few things are implied that take a fairly dominant role for a few bits of the story, but, again, nothing is ever said outright and the whole story takes a very Christian viewpoint on the subject.
There is lot more physical touching in this one than the last book. Dozens of embraces, holdings hands, a couple of dances, and a few kisses, one or two rather passionate ones. A couple of characters do even end up accidentally sleeping in the same bed. Both were horrified when they realized what they did, obviously nothing went beyond just sleeping, but I want to make sure and warn you if you’re uncomfortable with that. Despite all the physical scenes, the characters were very firm in keeping to their morals. Sarah has strong Christian values and keeps a tight hold of them, even when they’re threatened.
Ashley Townsend clearly put her heart and soul into this novel. Chasing Shadows is a tale of love and heartache. It’s engulfed in a beautiful message of how even the most broken can be repaired, that God never forsakes His people and can pull them back up no matter how far they’ve fallen, and as Christians it’s our duty to show them His love. It has a cast to both laugh and cry with, a beautiful setting, and engaging plot, with a writing style that pulls you right in and keeps you there. There were also quite a few nods to Robin Hood which excited me greatly.
And that ending! Oh how I need the next one, which currently isn’t even out. How shall I ever wait?
Basically, if you like time travel, a beautiful medieval setting, sweet romance, and a high stakes plot, you need to read these books.
4 out of 5 stars
NOTE: I received a free ebook copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.