Review: In Shadows We Fall by Devin Madson

Rating: 9/10


You will die. Your children will die. The empire will burn.

Empress Li is out of favour at court. Foreign-born and past her prime, she is to be set aside. But she won’t go quietly. With nothing left to lose, Li will do anything to stop Emperor Lan signing a secret alliance that could tear the empire apart. Yet when her life is threatened, old mistakes come back to haunt her and only a three-year-old boy can change the course of history.

With everything at stake, could an innocent child be the best assassin?


“‘In shadows we fight. In shadows we fall,’ I said, tears choking the words. ‘But it will not be in vain. History will remember.'”

I have been meaning to read Devin Madson for a while now. However, because of my giant TBR I just haven’t found the time to get to her full length novels. I saw this novella a few months ago and figured that it would be the perfect way to try out Madson and see if her writing was something I would enjoy. Needless to say from my rating, I enjoyed this novella quite a bit and plan on reading both The Vengeance Trilogy, which this is a prequel to, and the Reborn Empire trilogy!

This story has such an interesting premise and it hooked me from the start. How the heck could a 3 year old be an assassin? The plot starts off at a run, slows down a bit in the middle, and then has a high octane thrill ride of an ending that really showcases the range that Madson has employed here. From the action to the political intrigue, I was always engaged in this story and the fates of these characters.

Speaking of the characters, I was surprised at how much I was attached to these characters in the only 108 pages that this book spans. The author really puts these characters, especially Li and Takehiko, through the ringer. They were both very sympathetic characters that I found myself rooting for and caring about deeply.

“Like sunlight spreading over my skin, a warmth of reassurance chased the chill of fear, its price the tightening of his features and the grim set of his jaw. An exchange.”

The action was done really well and it gave just a taste of the magic system of this world. In part due to the length of the story, there wasn’t enough to fully understand what was happening when the characters use magic or what exactly their powers/limitations are, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment hardly at all. In fact, I didn’t expect a lot of explanation on that as it wasn’t a huge part of the story so I don’t really considerate it a weakness, more a nitpick. This story’s action was high stakes and brutal. I’d heard that Madson’s books are brutal and if this novella is any indication, this is exactly the type of story that I love!

In Shadows We Fall was a really enjoyable story in its own right, but what I am most excited about from reading this is how much it has got me excited to dive into Madson’s full lenght novel series! This novella has shot those other series up my TBR and I’m gonna make them a priority. I am excited to dive into this world more and see the consequences of the events that happened in this story play out in both The Vengeance and The Reborn Empire trilogies!

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