This book right here? This is the YA novel that Black and brown youth (and the young at heart) need in their life. L.D. Lewis’ A Ruin of Shadows incorporates several engrossing elements including fast paced action that will hype up fans of the Hunger Games series and legendary intrigue, which may interest fans of Harry Potter. A Ruin of Shadows blesses us with a female protagonist who is inherently ruthless, but seems to be developing more and more of a moral compass, as years of wisdom and as a killer–a body count in the hundreds will do. We’re given shades and hints of magik used in this land of warlords and uprisings.
General Daynja Edo Da Melanin Gawdess is the brown skinned, liquor swiggin’, matriarch of the Shadow Army. After delivering her first fade on the snake lord A Vibora, Edo has spent 30 years in the game straight bodying cats in the name of the Boorhian Empire. Every mission, she reps their black and orange flag meant to signify world..except for the fact that the outline of the continents are merely theoretical to the Empire.
The Plot Thickens
“The Three Known Worlds fear Boorhia’s Imperial Warlord and her Shadow Army in their sleep” and that’s why our homegirl yawns at the trivial assignments and requests made by the irritating Emperor Negus, and that is why this book becomes so dam engrossing so dam swiftly. We progress through our titular characters world-altering decisions, and the action blindsides you quick as a viper strike and the ramifications, heavy and deadly like Juggernaut. You want to know how dope this book is? I haven’t even gotten in General Edo’s blood thirsty Shadow Army who haven’t lost the novelty and thrill of conquest. Her nameless Shadow Army consist of 3 men and 4 women, all specializing in various weapons, tactics and capabilities. They bring to mind the protagonists who live by the code of “Nothing is true; everything is permitted” in our favorite Assassin Creed video games from Ubisoft but here Lewis makes them her own creation and they lack nothing.
“If you like magic, assassins, anti-heroes, flourishing all-Black/Afro-Latin empires/characters, a considerable amount of murder, the casual presence of quick-witted djinn, botched redemption arcs, secondary worlds, or my work in general, you should read A RUIN OF SHADOWS.” – Author L.D. Lewis • • • • #bookstagram #aruinofshadows #bnplit #blackspeculativefiction #dancingstarpress
The Elder Shadows
One is the eldest assassin of the “army”. Daynja found the boy around the age of 8 or 9, and he’s been able to wield any weapon thrown at his feet with impeccable accuracy and effectiveness. He has gained many political allies since growing into his tall, dark frame, but his anger coupled with the entitlement of being the very first shadow leaves some room for improvement. One’s relationship with the woman who made him is by far the most interesting of all the shadows.
Two is a sniper and straight shooter who could be considered General Edo’s favorite shadow. She takes charge when necessary and has impeccable aim. I absolutely loved the idea of her hammering her bullet casings into her locs to add a little glimmer to her swag. To be favored over One, by The General, to take lead over the Shadow army is all the reason you need to bangs with Two.
The Young Gunz
Three is our savage bomber shadow with a few missing fingers and a chipped front tooth. She hacked off the arm of the boy who caused her to lose those fingers, cuz she’s a G like that. Four is the other marksman of the crew. She’s probably the most practical shadow until it’s time to rep that pistol toting life. Five is the squad’s masterful steel swordsman. He carries two black bladed machetes in his back in case a fool fucks with the wrong one. He doesn’t have as many kills as the rest of the shadow army and he’s not proud of the fact, but don’t mistake that for weakness.
Six and Seven are the Wilykit and Wilkat of the Shadow Army and work as a devastatingly destructive duo. For years, they’ve trained against each other, so they’re the only assassins with any notion of defense…but where they shine is in the offensive end. Together, they fight like a whirlwind of death dealing. Their killer slashes and quick strikes compliment each other like young Naruto and Sasuke. These two are eager to soak up every ounce of experience they can get, which makes them fun characters to digest.
Our final character highlight is Djinni the timeless, artful, shapeshifting creature who often takes the form of a loc hair filled little black boy. Djinni looked like a leathery old woman when “they” found Edo, but had taken countless sentient forms since. Grey and gold eyes are the only thing that gives them away. Djinni is part friend, part confidant, part antagonizer. Every conversation Djinni has with the General results in dire consequences or wild insight into her upbringing and reasoning for her choices. Djinni possess seemingly unlimited power and the mystique behind this creature makes me want to know more. I also cant help but wonder how much influence Djinni had on every aspect of this story.
A Ruin of Shadows is a phenomenal, quick read that leaves you satisfied, but also wondering what else you can get your hands on from the author. Speaking of which, you’ve read Fiyah, right? If you dig Black speculative fiction you must check out Fiyah Literary Magazine. We had a great time discussing Lewis’ story “Chesirah” in Issue #1 of FIYAH on twitter which you should also check out. General Daynja Edo is one of the best lead characters I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying in years. L.D. Lewis knows how to create a well rounded, character with depth in General Edo and she delivers on all fronts.
A Ruin of Shadows does a great job of creating a vast world of bomb hurtling fun, wickedly sharp humor, impenetrable women and plenty of other intriguing characters who never fail to amaze. Pick up this tantalizing novella at Dancing Star Press or your usual spot asap. You will not be disappointed. Be sure to follow the author on Twitter to see what new worlds she’s busy creating that we’ll fall in love with and new characters we’ll follow along even after the wheels fall off.
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