{Review/Giveaway} TRACING SHADOWS by Alex Lidell

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

4/9/2018- A Backwards StoryReview
4/9/2018- Confessions of a YA ReaderExcerpt

4/10/2018- Zach's YA ReviewsReview
4/10/2018- Reese's ReviewsReview

4/11/2018- Book-KeepingReview

4/12/2018- Myth and Magic Book ClubReview
4/12/2018- BookHounds YAExcerpt

4/13/2018- Smada's Book SmackReview
4/13/2018- Paulette's PapersExcerpt

Week Two:

4/16/2018- Read. Eat. Love.Review
4/16/2018- Zooloo Book BlogExcerpt

4/17/2018- Lauren is ReadingReview
4/17/2018- Book BriefsReview

4/18/2018- The UndergroundExcerpt
4/18/2018- Don't Judge, ReadReview

4/19/2018- Adventures Thru WonderlandReview
4/19/2018- A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt

4/20/2018- The BookWorm DrinkethReview

4/20/2018- TwoChicks on BooksExcerpt

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    "WOULD YOU LIKE TO BUY a crystal, young master?" The girl pressing the magical pebbleinto my hand smiles coquettishly. She wears the drab red clothing of the Children of the Goddess disciples, and she couldn't have chosen a worse mark than me if she'd tried.
    Though in truth, her taking me for a boy and a sympathizer of the hateful bigots in the Children's following is a compliment to my skill. I am a scout. A spy trained to disguise, observe, and report. I'm also under orders not to interfere. 
    And that's where the problem lies.

(Page 6, US e-ARC edition)

“As I meet Trace's gaze to explain, I feel as though I'm stepping into a carnival looking glass, a reality that grinds against every fiber of my being and my training.” 


One of this week's brand-new releases is a book I've been excited to read and tore through really fast. Alex Lidell is an author who writes really fun, captivating fantasy novels, yet she hasn't yet caught on with the masses and is still relatively unknown. (So go buy all her books, fall in love with her writing, and let's change this travesty together, okay? This author needs to have more fans!!!) Lidell has written about some of my very favorite types of fantasy, like she knows everything I like. Her debut novel, CADET OF TILDOR, reminded me in all the best ways of one of my all-time favorite series, Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet featuring Alanna, a girl who disguises herself as a guy and trains to become a knight. (Only without the whole girl in disguise aspect! Girls are totally allowed to be knights in Lidell's world.) Her next series, Tides, begins with AIR AND ASH, and features elemental magic and adventures on the high seas. (I also interviewed Lidell regarding that title here.) Her brand-new novel, TRACING SHADOWS, is the first book in the Scout duology and features a girl disguised as a guy and political intrigue and I am already hooked. I am so glad that there are only two books in the series and that the sequel comes out in May so that the wait isn't too terrible!

Where to even start with the summary for TRACING SHADOWS? First, a little backstory: Kali and her sister Leaf are orphans. Their father was second in line for the throne, so the girls are a threat to the king's own bloodline, even though they'll never reign. They live in a world where Whisperers are being hunted and exterminated, their magic believed to be the cause of a "child drought" that leads to more babies being born stillborn than healthy. Kali is a trained spy, and easily able to disguise herself as male when needed. When King Firehorn decides he wants the girls close in order to scout out some things going down in his kingdom while simultaneously keeping his eye on them, the story really begins. Kali must slip seamlessly between the roles of King Firehorn's fictional niece Lady Lianna and a guard trainee named Kal. Kali manages to uncover a bigger threat to the kingdom than she could have ever imagined and is in way over her head--but too stubborn to realize she can't fix everything on her own!

Whoo boy. I really enjoyed TRACING SHADOWS and felt it had so many of the elements I love in a good fantasy novel. Girl disguised as a guy? Check! Slow burn romance? Check! Magic? Check! Royal political intrigue? Check! Lidell also knows how to shake things up and write a strong conclusion. Because I must have UNRAVELING DARKNESS now! It's hard to talk about certain elements without spoilers, but when something I had a theory on turned out to be true late in the game, I was really excited because it upped the stakes A LOT and lends so much material to the sequel already! I also thought it was really interesting to see short chapters from Princess Violet's point of view. She isn't the crown prince and is therefore inconsequential. In a world where there aren't enough babies, her womb is the most important thing about her. When she thinks she finds a way to make a difference, she embraces it with her entire being. Which is awesome, but heck, Violet just went and got herself brainwashed into a crazy cult! I liked seeing the way her thought process changed and evolved and how someone might find their way to a cult and change their beliefs so fundamentally. Seeing Violet's evolution was really intriguing, and I'm curious to see what will become of her when it's time for End Game and whose side she'll be on, what beliefs she'll have in the end. I'm also hoping to see a lot more of Kali's sister Leaf, who has a lot of untapped potential and wasn't in much of the book, despite being a Whisper that had to be kept hidden. I can't wait to explore her character more...and the magic system in general, because it's been mostly kept hidden so far due to the hostile environment for Whisperers. I'm also excited to see--well, again, spoilers! I really don't want to say too much about any of the major players in this book, but I found myself attached to and intrigued by so many of them.

Another thing I like is the way "issues" that you often only see in contemporary novels trickle down into this. We need more of this in fantasy, especially for impressionable teens, because not all readers enjoy contemporary novels and get to deal with fallout. Granted, these were all mostly things in passing, but I'm hoping they are brought up again and dealt with in the new book. These mostly revolve around Princess Violet, too, and without her chapters, we'd have no clue that they existed. She is a cutter. She might also have dyslexia, because there is a scene where she talks about the way numbers "won't stay still."  This could be a reason she struggles with her studies, and part of what makes her unhappy and wanting to cut herself. I do hope we see more of her struggles and how she deals with them in future books. Another aspect focused on that you don't always see in fantasy is characters with physical ailments. For example, Leaf has a clubfoot, which hinders her movement and can't be cured. (Granted, there is another scene with another character later that does have magical ableism when it comes to curing extreme injuries, and it will be interesting to see what if any fallout there will be in book two.) There's also some PTSD going on that will be more of a focus as the series continues.

If you love fantasy, TRACING SHADOWS is one book you won't want to miss. It just came out this week, and the sequel will be out next month, so the wait between books isn't long at all!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG  ( Kissing )
Language: PG  ( damn, bastard; a bit of sexual innuendo from one guy to another with terms such as "whore" and "prick." )
Violence:  PG13 ( Torture scenes; battle injuries )
Other:  PG13 There is a bar where a woman is paid to give Kal a good time and has to be fended off; a bit of innuendo here. )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I like this cover the best of the two in the duology. Kali's hair has better Photoshopping, and I really like the way all the gold and blue and fire-tone colors go together. The color pattern is really pleasing to my eyes!

I also like the way the title is structured. The cover has a very fantasy feel to it. I'd definitely pick it up at a store to see what it was about!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Alex Lidell
Release Date: April 8, 2018
Publisher: Alex Lidell
Received: For Review


To protect the throne, seventeen-year-old spy Kali must play a male guardsman trainee by day and royal lady by night. 

Orphaned and trained on a spymaster’s remote estate, Kali is a scout who works alone in the shadows. But when a terror group threatens the Dansil throne, the king forces Kali to accept a mission at the palace or forfeit her sister’s life. 

Suddenly thrust into the light, Kali must infiltrate high society as the royal Lady Lianna while penetrating the servant ranks as Kal, a male guardsman trainee. It doesn’t help that Trace, the harsh and enigmatic captain of the king’s guard, is soon assigned as both Lady Lianna’s palace escort and Kal’s commanding officer. 

As Kali edges closer to the truth behind the violent group’s identity, she uncovers dangerous secrets that could bring her mission to a brutal end. A scout’s job is to observe and report, never to engage . . . but if it means saving her sister and kingdom, Kali may have no choice. 

TRACING SHADOWS by Amazon bestselling author Alex Lidell, is the first novel in the Scout series. Perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, and Sarah J. Maas 

About the Author

Alex Lidell is the Amazon Breakout Novel Awards finalist author of THE CADET OF TILDOR (Penguin, 2013). She is an avid horseback rider, a (bad) hockey player, and an ice-cream addict. Born in Russia, Alex learned English in elementary school, where a thoughtful librarian placed a copy of Tamora Pierce’s ALANNA in Alex’s hands. In addition to becoming the first English book Alex read for fun, ALANNA started Alex’s life long love for YA fantasy books. Alex is represented by Leigh Feldman of Leigh Feldman Literary. She lives in Washington, DC.
Join Alex's newsletter for news, bonus content and sneak peeks:  


You could win...

  • 3 winners will receive an eBook set of Alex’s TIDES SERIES & an eBook of TRACING SHADOWS, INTERNATIONAL. (US only)

You must be at least 13 years old to enter or have a parent's permission!

Enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway