Shrilugh: Great YA Fantasy by Myndi Shafer

I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Shrilugh, by Myndi Shafer this weekend.  Not for the possibility of a book review (I only review books I like, and there was no guarantee I’d like it enough), but because Myndi is a blogging buddy.  She offered and I accepted.

And then the problems began.

I started it Saturday when chores and homework were mostly done.  I was still reading it in the car on the way up to visit the grandbaby.  I kept reading it late that night, which meant I didn’t get my Primary lesson done for church the next day, and the kitchen remained a wreck.  I read in snatches on a busy Sunday, and then finished it on Monday instead of working on my own novel.  But hey, at least I got my Shakespeare assignment done first!

So . . . Shrilugh (pronounced shree-loo) has a main character named Aydan (pronounced like Aidan) who is just graduating from high school.  She has an absolutely horrific father, a sister bent on her destruction, and a boy who is her protective best friend and whom she’s secretly in love with.  There’s tension and danger to start off with, but it ramps up when a mysterious guy arrives.  He has silver eyes, heals too quickly, and can talk to Aydan in her mind.

Hmm, if that doesn’t quite capture the story, it’s because you can’t do justice to it in one paragraph.  So for a more enticing description, here’s the back cover blurb. Go read it, then come back for my take.

You’re back?  Good.  I thought it sounded phenomenal, too.  And it was, which is why it caused time-crunch problems for me.

I love the characters.  Myndi does a good job developing them, from naive-but-determined Aydan and responsible, protective Brig (her boyfriend) to Rein (the mysterious stranger).  I believe them, I know them – they’re real.  And I love that when she includes horses, she does a knowledgeable job of it.  (Having been raised with horses, I hate books that talk about “riding tackle,” or where the horse never needs to rest or eat, or where a character describes “riding her beautiful Arabian stallion.”  Get real, folks!)  Oops, sorry.  Rant over.

I love some of the elements of Rein’s world, especially the Shrilugh, trees that glow softly in the evening, and the juxtaposition of a seemingly primitive setting, yet with advanced technology that Aydan doesn’t expect.  The characters there are well developed, with full backgrounds, political intrigues, and family feuds – plenty of tension!

However (there are always a few howevers), I’m used to YA books with fast pacing.  Shrilugh definitely pulled me in and kept me reading, but the pace wasn’t as fast as, say, The Hunger Games.  I knew from the blurb that they’d head for the other world, and I kept expecting it to happen, which it doesn’t until more than halfway through the book.  Once I realized that she was giving as much time to developing characters as to plot, and that I really needed to know these guys, their relationships, and what was important to them before they went through the Door, I happily settled down for the ride.  There is one section on the horses where the threat could have been stronger and the tension higher, but I still enjoyed it.

The other “however” is that I turned pages on my Kindle faster and faster as I got closer to the end, but this is a trilogy and I WANT THE REST OF THE STORY!  It ended with a bit of a positive note for Aydan, and not as abruptly as some trilogy segments (the first Lord of the Rings movie comes to mind), but none of the storylines were wrapped up to complete the book.  I want to know what happened to . . . and who did . . . and what will . . . . Hmm, I can’t even ask the questions without turning it into a spoiler, so I guess I won’t ask.  I’m just glad the second book will be out in October, instead of a year from now!

8/30/12 Update:  Shrilugh is released today, Amazon & Smashwords details here.  For $2.99 you can’t go wrong!

And before I sign off, ROW80 goals are going well, despite being caught up in other people’s books! Stretching every day, doing old PT exercises again, got a lovely 45 minute walk this morning.  Writing 2 of 3 days (counting today), so big improvement over last week.  Cheers!

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