SHADOWS: Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five by R.J. Furness

SHADOWS: Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five (Part One)SHADOWS: Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five by R.J. Furness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, this has not impacted my rating or review at all.


possible mild spoilers, read at your own risk.
Sapphire Smyth has just turned 18, today is her birthday. It is not a happy day for her though, as her foster parents gave her her birthday gift, a bracelet that once belonged to her birth mother, they also drop the bombshell that she can no longer stay with them, as they can’t afford it. Sapphire finds herself in Greyflower Gardens, she’ll be safe here, there’s a place she can spend the night that should keep her relatively dry. But things are not as they seem, and Sapphire is in more danger than she realises. After witnessing the shadows doing strange things, like turning into a fox, and after being assaulted by an unknown assailant which caused the shadows nearby to respond to her desperation, Sapphire realises there’s something else happening and she needs answers. Will she be able to handle the truth of the situation? Follow Sapphire on a journey of growth and discovery as she learns about a world that she had no idea existed.

Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five is a serialised young adult fantasy series, there will be six instalments. This first instalment is roughly 70 pages along, so is perfect for a short read filled with adventure. I haven’t actually read a serialised publication before, but I feel like it is an absolutely fantastic idea! In the foreword of this story, Furness explains his choice in serialising this publication, and I can completely see where he is coming from. He goes on to explain that he wanted to bring back the excitement that surrounds, for example, the hottest new TV show out. How exciting is it to begin discussions with friends starting with “Have you seen this weeks episode yet??” it opens up a wonderful dialogue. Furness wished to do this with this story, it has been done before and he thoroughly enjoyed it. And I’m beginning to realise that I do as well.

This was a wonderfully strong beginning for what is promising to be a story full of growth, suspense, adventure and discovery. The writing flows beautifully really immersing the reader into the world of Sapphire Smyth. I found that the way the ‘magic’ of the story came about, incredibly believable. Sapphire has no idea what happened to her birth parents, yet we are given a glimpse into that event at the very beginning of the story, so we know that there is something so much bigger happening here.

Sapphire is a very relatable character, she’s just turned 18 and had her entire world turned upside down. Essentially finding out that the people she has known as her parents for her entire life, don’t actually love her. While this would be undoubtedly devastating, she doesn’t spend a lot of time sulking about it or crying over false truths. She ejects herself from the situation, yes, putting herself into a more dangerous situation, but she still decides that if this is how it’s going to be, it’s time for me to move on. At 18, I would wallow in my sadness for endless amounts of time! So I like that Sapphire does not. I like that she is strong enough to take the punches, work herself out and deal with it all when she has the time. I am still wondering why she didn’t just go to her best friend, Ben’s, house first though. But, I guess in that situation, who wouldn’t want to be alone to try and deal with their thoughts.

Ben’s character was instantly likeable so I’m glad that he seems to be playing a bigger part in this than first thought. I don’t know how I feel about Grace yet, the jury is still out, so we’ll see.

The way that Sapphire discovers her new ability is done in a believable way which I think adds a lot to a story. Yes we want fantasy, but when you throw characters into completely outrageous situations and they just go “oh, okay, so this a thing.” it kinda takes away from the story a bit. We want fantastical, but we want it to be somewhat believable as well. Furness does this with the discovery of the shadow world. I feel like I would have reacted exactly the same way that Sapphire did when Sid the shadow fox appeared. It was a great introduction as who is going to be afraid of something if it’s so adorable, amIright?

All in all, this was an incredibly strong start to a promising new young adult fantasy serial. I cannot WAIT to see what happens next and I’ll definitely be hanging out for each release date. Thank you again R.J. Furness for this amazing opportunity, have you finished it yet? 😀

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