Book Review: Rising Shadows by Ashley Townsend

Sarah Matthews is nearing the end of another eventless summer in the small town of Bethany, Oklahoma, bringing her closer to the start of her freshman year of college. Disheartened over the reality that yet another unexciting season is coming to an end, Sarah wishes for an unforgettable adventure. When mysterious circumstances transport Sarah and her younger sister back in time, she gets more of an adventure than she could have ever imagined. The two sisters find themselves trapped in the twelfth century in a place shrouded with mystery and deception. Assassination plots, kidnappings, and tumultuous adventures force Sarah to rely on the Shadow, a masked hero who comes to her aid numerous times. In order to uncover a conspiracy and save those closest to her, Sarah requests help from the Shadow and also from Will, the handsome and equally intriguing blacksmith she befriends. Sarah is strangely drawn to the excitement that seems to follow the town hero and begins to look forward to their secret encounters. She also finds herself caught in a romance with Will, despite the fact that their equally fiery personalities have a tendency to clash as they attempt to work together. But Will’s past is filled with secrets and pains, and Sarah finds it difficult to break through the walls he has built around him. Can the faith and love of God that Sarah exhibits in her own life cause his hardened facade to fall away as he discovers that forgiveness and mercy are never too far from reach?

Release Date: June 16, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Kirkdale Press
Source: Review copy from publisher

This was a neat book!  I am a sucker for time travel novels, especially when characters are transported back in time.  Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and given that Rising Shadows is historical Christian fiction, I was really in for a treat.

Sarah is just your typical girl, getting ready to start college.  One day, during a thunderstorm, she and her younger sister Lilly are transported to the twelfth century.  Upon their arrival, they meet Karen, a college student who is also from the future.  Karen is in the twelfth century with her adoptive father, who is a professor and coincidentally developed the time machine, which is really more of a neat time-travel set of watches.  Karen and the professor ended up in the twelfth century by mistake, but while there, discovered a plot against the king and are working to bring the king's brother to justice, and therefore save the king's life.

There were a lot of things I liked about Rising Shadows. I liked Sarah and her levelheadedness.  I liked her approach to problems, and her loyalty to others.  I especially liked her faith in God, and how she turned to Him in times of trouble.  I liked Karen as well.  She was unpredictable (something I love in a character) and a great friend to Sarah.  Will was a mystery for much of the book but I grew to really like him too.  The minor characters were well fleshed-out and added a lot of depth to the story.  There were several surprises along the way, which I loved.  My favorite parts of Rising Shadows were the historical element and the Christian element, both of which were very well-handled.    

I had a couple of problems with Rising Shadows.  The first was that there were some predictable parts to the book.  I knew who The Shadow was long before Sarah did.  My second problem was that the ending was choppy.  I hated Sarah's decision at the end of the book, then all of a sudden, the book was over.  I kept clicking the 'next page' button on my Nook in vain, hoping for more, not wanting to believe that Townsend could leave me with such a cliff-hanger!  I like being in suspense for the next novel, but leaving things so open between books always leaves me feeling frustrated.  For sure, it's a fine line between an ending that leaves you wanting to read the next book and a chopped-off ending with series novels, and it's something that I think is very hard to get right.  Rising Shadows is the first in a trilogy, so hopefully book two will answer the many questions I have after reading book one.

Overall, I enjoyed Rising Shadows.  I plan to keep reading the series, and look forward to more from Ashley Townsend.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your review! It's good to know that people are looking forward to the sequel, which I am pounding away at. I love hearing readers' opinions because it will really help me to shape the next two books in the trilogy. Thanks again!


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