by Juliet Marillier


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Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill—a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk—Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec.

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death—but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban's release from Keldec's rule. Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375871962
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 07/09/2013
Series: Shadowfell Series , #1
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 465,604
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

JULIET MARILLIER is the author of several highly popular fantasy novels for adults, including the Sevenwaters Trilogy and the Bridei Chronicles. She is also the author of the teen novels Wildwood Dancing and Cybele's Secret.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

As we came down to the shore of Darkwater, the wind sliced cold right to my bones. My heels stung with blisters. Dusk was falling, and my head was muzzy from the weariness of another long day’s walk. Birds cried out overhead, winging to nighttime roosts. They were as eager as I was to get out of the chill.

We’d heard there was a settlement not far along the loch shore, a place where we might perhaps buy shelter with our fast-­shrinking store of coppers. I allowed myself to imagine a bed, a proper one with a straw mattress and a woolen coverlet. Oh, how my limbs ached for warmth and comfort! Foolish hope. The way things were in Alban, people didn’t open their doors to strangers. Especially not to disheveled vagrants, and that was what we had become. I was a fool to believe, even for a moment, that our money would buy us time by someone’s hearth fire and a real bed. Never mind that. A heap of old sacks in a net-­mending shed or a pile of straw in a barn would do fine. Anyplace out of this wind. Anyplace out of sight.

I became aware of silence. Father’s endless mumbled recounting of past sorrows, a constant accompaniment to our day’s journey, had come to a halt, and now he stopped walking to gaze ahead. Between the water’s edge and the looming darkness of a steep wooded hillside, I could make out a cluster of dim lights.

“Darkwater settlement,” he said. “There are lights down by the jetty. The boat’s there!”

“What boat?” I was slow to understand, my mind dreaming of a fire, a bowl of porridge, a blanket. I did not hear the note in his voice, the one that meant trouble.

“Fowler’s boat. The chancy-­boat, Neryn. What have we got left—how much?”

My heart plummeted. When this mood took him, setting the glitter of impossible hope in his eyes, there was no stopping him. I could not restrain him by force; he was too strong for me. And whatever I said, he would ignore it. But I had to try.

“Enough for two nights’ shelter and maybe a crust if we’re lucky, Father. There’s nothing to spare. Nothing until one of us gets some paid work, and you know how likely that is.”

“Give me the bag.”

“Father, no! These coppers are our safe place to sleep. They’re our shelter from the wind. Don’t you remember what happened last—­”

“Don’t tell me what to do, daughter.” His eyes narrowed in a way that was all too familiar. “What’s better than a drink of ale to warm us up? Besides, I’ll double our coppers on the boat. Triple them. Nobody beats me in a game of chance. Would you doubt your father, girl?”

Doubt was hardly the word for what I felt. Yes, he had once been skilled in such games. He’d had a reputation as a tricky player, full of surprises. Sorrow and reversal, hardship and humiliation, had eaten up that clever fellow, leaving a pathetic shell, a man who liked his ale too much and could no longer distinguish between reality and wild dream. Father was a danger to himself. And he was a danger to me, for strong drink loosened his tongue, and a word out of place could reveal the gift I fought to hide from the world every moment of every day. He’d talk, and someone would tell the Enforcers, and it would all be over for the two of us. But I was heartsick and weary—­too weary to fight him any longer.

“Here,” I said, handing over the bag. “I hate the chancy-­boat. The only chance it will give you tonight is the chance to squander what little we have. If you lose this money, we’ll be sleeping out in the open, at the mercy of whoever happens to pass by. If you lose it, you’ll lose what little self-­respect you have left. But you’re my father, and I can’t make your choices for you.”

He looked at me directly, just for a moment, and I thought I saw a glimmer of understanding in his eyes, but it was gone as quickly as it had appeared. “You hate me,” he muttered. “You despise your own father.”

I could have told him the truth: that I hated his weakness, that I hated his anger, that the days and months and years of looking after him and keeping him out of trouble and protecting him from himself had worn me down. But I loved him too. He was my father. I loved the man he used to be, and I still hadn’t given up hope that, someday, he could be that man again. “No, Father,” I said, plodding after him as he strode ahead, for the prospect of a game and a win had put new life in his step. “I’m cold and tired, that’s all. Too tired to mind my words.”

As we made our way closer to the lights of the chancy-­boat, which rocked gently in the dark water beside a small jetty, I was aware of pale eyes watching me from the branches of the pines. I did not allow myself a glance toward them. Small feet shuffled in the fallen leaves and pattered along behind us a way, then skipped off into the woods. I did not allow myself to turn back. A whisper teased at me: Neryn! Neryn, we are here! I closed my ears to it. I had been hiding my secret for years, since Grandmother had explained the peril of canny gifts. I had become adept at concealment.

I stiffened my spine and gritted my teeth. Maybe there would be nobody on the chancy-­boat but its captain, Fowler, who had some understanding of my father’s situation. Who would want to spend such a chilly night playing games anyway? Who would be visiting such an out-­of-­the-­way place as Darkwater? We had come here because the settlement lay so far from well-­traveled roads. We had come because nobody knew us in these parts. Except Fowler, and we had not expected him. But Fowler wouldn’t talk. He was a bird of passage, a loner.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Kirkus Reviews Best of Teen's Books 2012

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, August 6, 2012:
“For those that wish that Tolkien had explored the character of Aragorn more deeply, Marillier provides the next best thing.”

Customer Reviews

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Shadowfell 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Readers begin by meeting a young girl named Neryn as she and her father try to find some kind of shelter from the elements with only a small amount of money in their pockets. Neryn’s father soon spies a boat in the harbor that is basically a floating gambling den. Because he and his daughter need money in order to survive, and he is an avid gambler, he decides that this is the way to a small fortune. So away he goes to find money that will see them on their way. Of course, what actually does happen is startling. Dad loses and he, more or less, sells his daughter in a card game and she ends up being taken away by a man named Flint. Soon the King’s Enforcers come into town and kill just about everyone in it…along with Neryn’s father. Now Neryn has not only been sold but she’s also an orphan - all alone in the world except for Flint. Although her new owner says he wants to help her, Neryn is out of trust and full of fear, choosing to run away. Neryn soon shows that she is no ordinary young girl. In fact, she has a magical gift that was handed down to her from her grandmother, and the King’s Enforcers are looking for her so that she can help the King keep his power. How can she do that? Apparently her gift is that she can see and talk to the ‘little’ people in the land and Neryn is on her way to Shadowfell - a place that is home to a band of rebels who are training to overthrow the King and bring the land back to the people. On her journey, Neryn runs up against some very unusual people, not to mention fearing everything from the harsh, cold weather to the fact that perhaps everyone was wrong and Shadowfell doesn’t even exist. From the ‘Good Folk’ who help her out when she gets into some pretty sticky situations; to Flint, who is actually an extremely kind individual, this is a fascinating adventure. Being the first in this series, readers can look forward to even more secrecy, romance and mind-boggling survival! Quill Says: A unique and enchanting read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why, why why??? I loved this book!! I love, love, love the love story. It may ruval Sorcha's and Red's in Daughter of the Forest. Ahhhhhhhh!!
Anonymous 7 months ago
Buying the next book right now!
Bookswithbite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another great fantasy book that took me a little longer to get into. Once I was completely immersed in the story, I allowed myself to be guided by a great adventure.The beginning of the book is intense. I love a strong beginning and that is what the reader gets. Immediately you feel strong emotions once you are in Neryn shoes. She carries a dark secret and just wants to be okay. Neryn is a strong fascinating character. Despite what is done to her, she is naive or shall we say innocent and believes there is goodness in everyone. I think some people may see her at gullible but I think she just wants to have hope. Many times she makes the same mistakes over and over but really, she wants a change. At times I am frustrated with the character but at other times, I just want her to be okay.The plot of the book is great. The middle part sort of lagged for me but once I reached the middle-end that is where the pace picks up again. Neryn is faced with a raging war and has to make many choices. Along the way, she of course falls in love. This brings some peace to the story also adding more drama. Still, I love the fact that they fought over their feelings. The tension it gave made me giddy!The historical elements to the story as well as the fantasy parts, is quickly addicting. Once everything about Neryn and the secret society is out in the open, I could wait for more!Shadowfell is a great start in this series. With amazing world building, the plot gets strong and better. If you share an appetite for a story full of action, love, and betrayal, Shadowfell is just for you!
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After Neryn's father gambles her away, the boat he is on is set on fire by the king's enforcers. They are looking to capture anyone with magic and either destroy them or bring them to the King. Neryn has an uncanny gift, the ability to see the Good Folk, even when they are trying to hide. After her father's death she sets off for Shadowfell, a legendary town where she hopes to find help.I really wanted to like this book, but after awhile I became bored with it. Neryn spends much of the first part traveling by herself, which quickly became tedious. It was hard to like Neryn, she seemed a bit generic and one-dimensional. I did think the good folk were interesting, but not interesting enough to hold the story together. Overall, I would have a tough time recommending this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DebyFredericks More than 1 year ago
Nice, solid YA fantasy-distopian with lots of angst and legendary fairy folk. I enjoyed the complicated main characters and the shadows that inhabit both. In future volumes, I need to see more of the evil king and why he does such terrible things. Right now he just seems evil because the plot needs someone to be evil. Surely some shadow drives him, just as it does for Neryn and Flint. I look forward to more.
SmalltownSR More than 1 year ago
I love all things Marillier; a fantastic story, with promise of more.  
Ann_W More than 1 year ago
Several years ago, I discovered Juliet Marillier, and I've been reading her books ever since. She creates interesting characters and uses fairy tales and myths for inspiration. As with this book, when she starts a series, you know you want to read the rest of the books as they are published.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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ImaginaryReads More than 1 year ago
One of the things I love about epic fantasies is how unique the characters can be, and Shadowfell did not disappoint. While Neryn is a bit on the tame side, she meets many interesting personalities along her journey, especially among the Good Folk who aid her on her journey. I especially love Sage and Red Cap, two of Neryn's early supporters among the Good Folk. I have a feeling that I'll find more characters to love among the human comrades that Neryn makes, especially Flint. Of all the humans, he is the most complex, and it still seems as though he's hiding much from us. I hope to see more of his character developed in future installments along with that of Neryn. While there are no outstanding flaws in Neryn's character, there aren't any strengths either. On the whole, Neryn is a flat character who is extremely naïve and sheltered girl despite having been on the run from the Enforcers since she was twelve. She knows how much the people are suffering. She's seen how people are willing to turn in their own to protect themselves. Still, she has no strong desire to use her skills to return the pain back to the king's supporters. Her naivety also manifests in her hesitancy over whether or not to trust Flint and over the decision to accept the aid of the Good Folk when she needs help to survive. It does seem as though she's becoming more confident towards the end of the story, however, so there's hope for her growth in future installments. The pacing is rather slow as well. It takes Neryn pretty much the entire novel to find her destination, and there is a lot of waiting in between. Combined with a flat heroine, the plot would have disappointed had it not been for the striking world building that brings the story to life. Many YA fantasies I've read tend to underdevelop the world in an attempt to focus more on character relationships and action. In Shadowfell, I never felt as if I lacked an understanding of how the world worked, excluding the first chapter while I was still getting acquainted with the world. Alban is rich in history and culture that distinguishes from other worlds oppressed by an evil tyrant. Progressing into the plot with a solid understanding of the world allowed me to better appreciate the importance of Neryn's canny skills. Shadowfell is a solid first installment in a series. It sets up the world and introduces the characters who'll be playing major roles in the battles to come. The future for the series looks promising. I'll be reading Raven Flight to see where Neryn's journey takes her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I love all of her books but honestly i think this one may be the best. Highly reccommend reading this and all of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not the absolute best, but was fairly decent
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jesshine More than 1 year ago
First, I have to say that I love this author, so have read literally all of her books, so that makes this review a little different than it might be otherwise. I loved this book and look forward to reading more in this series. However, it is very similar to a few of her other books, to the point that some characters are almost identical. She has created a different fantasy world in this one, rather than setting it in a fantasy version of scotland or ireland, which I do like. The lead character is another small teen girl with inner strength and a special ability, which happens to be seeing fae creatures, Just like Tuala and some of the more recent sevenwaters books. In fact, it seemed like the small folk in the last 2 sevenwaters books might have been the exact creatures helping out in this one. The journey in this book also reminded me a lot of the journey cathal and clodaugh took in the second to last sevenwaters. Finally, I fell in love with the bighearted and brave spy Flint with a tortured past...but if you've read her other books that probably sounds like someone too. This part I didn't mind so much because Faolin was always my favorite male character that she's written. Basically, this book was kind of a nostalgic mash up of some of my favorite books that Marillier has written. I'm torn because I was annoyed at the lack of originality, but happy to revisit what seemed a lot like some of my favorite books, and at least she recreated Faolin and it looks like he will need to be a big part of the rest of the books in this series! I always wanted her to back to the bridei chronicles, and since I don't know if she will, maybe this series will substitute for me. I'm sincerely hoping she will continue the storyline from the end of the book rather than switching character perspectives or fastforwarding in time as she tends to do in her other series. In the end, I did like this book, as I do all her books and I will eagerly look forward to the next one, so I went ahead and gave it 4 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love that the author is venturing to a new storyline and this is shaping up to potentially be a great series. Really hoping the next book puts some conviction in the lead character and waiting to see who Flint really is in his heart of hearts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pagese More than 1 year ago
This called to me immediately because of the fey. I have yet to read a fey book that I didn't at least partially enjoy. I was sad when I missed this book on Netgalley, but so excited when I was contacted about it. I loved Neryn from the very start. We really don't understand her gift at first, but we know that she's had to hide it her entire life. We also learn that her father and her have been living on the run for a few years. But, her father is not an easy man. He's prone to drink and gambling, and in one crazy night he gambles Neryn against the pot...and looses. The man who wins her and has heard whispers of a father and daughter traveling together to avoid capture. She wants to trust him, but there are so many reasons not too. Which brings us to the fey. At first, their presence in the story is subtle. Neryn leaves small gifts were ever she goes, just like her grandmother taught her to do. But, slowly she opens up these beings and begins to learn that what she can not do is normal. In fact, she has striking quality that match up an ancient prophecy. I loved her determination to reach a place that may of really been a myth. The only thing that started to bother me a little was how back and forth Neryn was on Flint. Yes, there were times I really questioned him and I hoped to be proved wrong. But, it often felt like she had no backbone or belief in her own instincts. Maybe it stems for having to hide what she could do her entire life. I'm glad she made a decision in the end and stuck to it. Hopefully it won't be her downfall in the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As always Juliet Marillier creates a world I escape to and become part of. The magic is inside of us and the elements.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amberlinalou More than 1 year ago
If you are a fan of fantasy, magical beings and a story with depth, Shadowfell would be for you. This was a book recommended to me by a good friend, and I knew by reading the summary that it was one I had to read. Don’t be fooled by my rating. This is well worth the read. I love when I discover a deeper meaning behind a characters journey than just the act of moving the story forward. Neryn’s father succumbed to his gambling and alcohol compulsion. He, like so many others in Alban had lost their way due to the malevolent King Keldec. Canny skills were forbidden to the ordinary folk. Keldec sent out enforcers to wipe away anyone that possessed these magical abilities, and cruelly used the ones he kept in his grasp. And, he wanted Neryn. Neryn was gifted, and this gift had been a secret between her and her father, but when he drank, she was afraid he would lose his mind and speak the unspeakable. A tragic scene set the story further in motion. Neryn escaped enforcers with the help of a hooded man, who eventually is threaded back into the story with mystery and a greater purpose. Neryn accepted a challenge to stand up for justice, and the battle she agreed to fight was for Alban’s freedom. That meant a new king and a new rule. On her journey to Shadowfell, Neryn not only had a series of tests to pass, but she was on a personal journey as well. Along her path, she was reminded of the wise words her grandmother spoke to her, an education of sorts that helped guide her on her path to being something more than she ever could have imagined. Neryn had help along the way from The Good Folk, and Flint, the hooded man. This enjoyable story kept me intrigued and allowed me to escape into a whole new world full of tragedy, self-discovery, and compassion for the people in Alban. There was a specific scene where Neryn met a couple with a special circumstance that broke my heart, but played a vital role in showing the reader more about who the protagonist Neryn really was. That was one of my favorite scenes throughout this story and it was deeply touching. I love when a protagonist is a fighter and faces obstacles head-on for the greater good regardless of the struggles to get there. That was how Neryn was. She was strong and didn’t allow herself to give up because it wasn’t just for her; it was for the people she’s loved and lost, and the ones who reside in Alban. Flint was a mysterious character. Through most of the story I was just waiting for him to betray Neryn. The more we learned along the way, I truly understood why he acted the way he did. I really liked him and the connection he and Neryn developed. I would have liked to see a drawing or a map of Alban. There were many landmarks mentioned throughout and it would have been nice to see where they were. The imagery was great and easy to imagine. The story ended with a perfect opening into the next book. I can't wait to find out what is going to happen with Neryn, Flint, and the Good Folk. Give this enchanting story a try.