Sheltered from the world since birth, eighteen-year-old Haven arrives at the Academy eager to learn what it means to be seraphim. Her excitement quickly fades as she struggles to master her gifts, to befriend and trust others, and above all, to understand herself.
But when she discovers an ancient magic within, she loses the glimpse of friendship she longs for and is thrown back into isolation. Her magic unknowingly awakens a dark shadow in her world and catalyzes those who seek to control her, to bind her and use her for her power. And if she can’t be bound, they will ensure she is dead.
Ryker, a world walker and a demon hunter, is the only one powerful enough to contain her magic and knows what it is like to be wanted for someone else’s gains. Ryker’s brutal methods may give her the chance to understand her gift and control it, but they are running out of time. Haven must fight for a life she desperately wants, one where she can follow her own path, and her heart. And, maybe, finally find love before her life is chosen for her.
Haven is excited to finally arrive at the Academy and learn the ins and outs of being a seraphim. But she has spent her whole life hidden away, and the world of socialising and getting to know others isn’t something she is overly familiar with. As Haven finds herself thrown into an entirely new world, it is not just learning to control her gifts that she must focus on, but also figuring out who to trust.
Ryker is an incredibly powerful seraphim, with a unique gift. When an ancient magic is discovered within Haven, Ryker finds himself working with her to try and gain her control over them before they are used to control her. Many people would use her for the powers she holds, and Ryker has little time to try and teach her.
Haven is an incredibly strong character, although she is not without her limits. She struggles a lot in this book, as she makes friends, but pushes them away when things get hard, even though she really needs them. Haven is not used to relying on others to help her, but rather withdraws into herself when she doesn’t know how to keep going. I absolutely loved reading about Haven, and watching her grow as a person. Nearer the start of the book, she is incredibly naive, although she has never had proper friends, so she is unlearned in the workings of other people. She does gain an understanding of the world as she spends more time at the Academy, and I found myself liking her more the further into the book I read.
I found the Academy itself rather interesting. It reminded me a little of the training in the Divergent series, as all the young adults work to grow their physical and mental skills, but with a fantasy twist on it, with wings, and magical powers. There are plenty of people who work outside of the Academy who come in to teach their own specialised skills, and these people are mainly the ones who change Haven’s life. In particular, Ryker and his twin brother, River. I could go on and on about how much I hate River, although I feel I would begin to spoil the story, so I don’t want to get onto the topic of him. Ryker, however, is absolutely lovely. He finds himself doing things he doesn’t want to do for Haven’s benefit, and puts himself through things that affect him, just to ensure she is safe. Their training together is not always pleasant to read about, but just knowing the sacrifices he makes for her, when he doesn’t even know her, is proof that he is a fabulous person, and a wonderful character to read about.
This book did take a while to get started. There is little explanation about the world itself, and I found it difficult to figure out what was happening, and why. There are also a lot of characters to keep up with, and the relationships are a little tricky to figure out at first, when you don’t know what’s going on with the setting. I do wish there was a little more explanation about the setting, for I think it would help the reader understand what was happening immediately, although if you stick with it, things slowly sort themselves out, and it gets easier to follow all the individual characters as their paths intertwine.
I wasn’t aware, going into this, quite how long the book itself was. Only when I came to write this review did I realise that this book is 546 pages long, and is book 1 of 4 in the series. There is not necessarily a lot of romance in this book, but it follows Haven’s time at the Academy in great detail, clearly building up necessary relationships and information for books yet to come. It did take me quite a while to read this book, which I was not expecting, but I did enjoy how in-depth the book is. There are plenty of books, I will use the example of Divergent again, where there are time skips, and I wished to follow the characters thorough their entire journey. This book allowed me to do that, and I felt I connected to Haven more by following her so closely.
Fantasy itself is a very broad genre, but if you are a fan of fantasy that follows young adults in a school, that includes learning to control dangerous magical abilities, and has a few steamy moments here and there, this is certainly the book for you! I can’t wait to continue reading this series. Book two can’t come soon enough!
Georgia C Leigh lives in California with her husband, two grown children, her cat and two horses. When not working, Georgia is an avid competitive equestrian. The Shadows and Light series are Georgia's first published books.
Book 1, Light in the Shadows, and book 2, Light Lost, will be followed by book 3, Shadow Rising, in early 2024.