Shadow’s Hand by Noelle Nichols

514d-81cgalMy Rating: 5/5 stars

Shadow’s Creed Saga Book 1

Short Summary via Amazon:

For lovers of samurai and a strong code of ethics…

I used to believe our morals were absolute.
I no longer am certain.

Imposters pose as our Shadow group, spreading panic and killing innocents across the lands. These False Shadows wield a magic in its infancy, a power they call the Skills. There’s great potential to this power, but a menacing undertone taints those who wield it. Their intentions are sinister, without purpose, and their morals, questionable.
I am Kilo, a Shadow of Vaiyene, and I vow to put an end to these False Shadows. My friends have been killed. My homeland, threatened. These imposters know our weakness, and they seek to exploit who we are. I fear before the end, I may forsake the very creed I’ve lived my life by. Despite this, I must persist and find a way to return peace to the lands. I will become the strength our people need.
I am Shenrae, one of the next generation of Shadows. My comrades doubt me, as I often doubt myself, but I have no other choice than to fight. The Phantoms cannot protect us for long. Soon, I will have to find my place, and my strength, or I will lose everything I have left.

My Review: Noelle weaves an epic fantasy of engaging and relatable characters in a beautiful world of ancient magic!

Kilo lives by a strong code of ethics, and I think this is what makes him appealing. His internal struggle over what is right and wrong, and who gets to judge those who harm him and those he loves is, I think, the core of this story. Without this, I don’t think Kilo would choose the path he does. It makes the action more gripping because Kilo will not kill his enemy, even though there are moments throughout where you feel his anger building.

Shenrae is right alongside with him, though she’s struggling more to “let go” what others think of her and how she’s seen by those who, she thinks, are stronger than her. I love that these two characters–one who’s experienced and one who’s training to be a Shadow–are similarly contemplating what makes a Shadow strong. It means different things to different people, and I think the readers will relate well to both of them on their separate journeys.

I read the opening chapters of this book in its infancy as a beta reader. It has flourished since those rough drafts. This is a beautiful story! The moments of magic are gripping. I love how the Skills, the fluid magic, connects the present world with the past, revealing the history and the truth without info-dumping. The characters are still present and engaged in the action of the story, and the reader is transported there with them.

The moment the reader meets the antagonist for the first time, Hitori, is exciting! Up to this point, Noelle does a great job building the tension. I was on the edge of my seat every time one of the False Shadows were seen by Kilo or Shenrae because I kept waiting for Hitori to pop out and snatch or kill someone! I am so glad Noelle went the way she did with this climactic point, and that the reader gets a snippet of Hitori’s abilities and how the Skills work.

I can’t wait for the next story in the saga! Noelle, thank you for sharing this adventure with us. I would love to beta read for the next coming books when and if you need betas! Hit me up.

I highly recommend this book. Find it on Amazon!