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Book Reviews

How Do You Kill A Shadow?

The First of Shadows Cover Image

The First of Shadows

by Deck Matthews

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How the twilight fades, The drying tears of our forgotten misery; Shadows lengthen, Rusted swords, Spewing from the mouth of yesterday. – From “The White Letters”


Deck MatthewsThe First of Shadows

riven realm cover image


How do you kill a shadow?

As a raging storm descends on the Blasted Coast, the crippled young rigger, Caleb Rusk, meets a stranger on the road. Little does he know that the encounter will pull him into a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear—and change the course of his life forever.

Meanwhile, in the Capital of Taralius, a string of inexplicable deaths have captured the attention of the Ember Throne. Second Corporal Avendor Tarcoth is tasked with uncovering the truth behind a danger that could threaten the very fabric of the Realm.

My Thoughts

Deck Matthews’s book, The First of Shadows, has been on my TBR for a long time. I ended up saving my reading of it until I got an opportunity to read it on tour. I got to support both the series and The Write Reads. Additionally, it is Self Published Fantasy Month, and being that this is a self-published fantasy title, the stars aligned, and I got a chance to check this out finally. And I am so glad that I did.

The First of Shadows is a great book and hints at a wonderful series. It evoked a lot of the nostalgia and longing of my first days reading fantasy. Although this is a much darker story, then say, The Belgariad, it has a lot of the same expressive writing and tone.

The first book of The Rivan realm, The First of Shadows, is a novella-length book, clocking in at 147 pages. It is an excellent bite-size chunk of the story and worldbuilding that is enough to entice the reader into the other books. The book is divided into three points of view. The first is a character named Caleb. Caleb is the youngest character in the main group. He is a rigger on a ship, who, from the get-go of the story, you can tell he has humility and ethics. He is the one who found Shem, badly injured, and helped him to safety.

Shem is the second point of view. He is gravely injured battling a demon is brought to the home of Caleb’s mother. His injury is the catalyst for Caleb’s life changing in ways Caleb can not imagine.

And although there are other important character’s points of view in the story. I truly enjoyed that of Palawan Ty. She is a character that had been hunting a disturbance, a great evil that she sensed but could not understand and had been tracking it for two weeks. This brought her into the paths of Shem, Caleb, and Tanner.

The worldbuilding, pacing, and characterizations are all top-notch in this story. Although I do not want to give to much away about the plot, know that there are elves, magic, fighting, demons, and airships. It has the feel of a familiar fantasy story, with some steampunkesque additions. The battle scenes are written quite well also. Demons are scary creatures. “This will have you manling! This cannot be destroyed!

Check out The First of Shadows if you want an exciting first novella in what should turn out to be an excellent, more extended series!

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Where to find it?


I received this as part of the tour.

About the Author

Deck Matthews author photo

Deck Matthews is a pseudonym for one particular Matthew Ward. He is a life-long reader who fell in love with writing and fantasy in middle school. He remains an avid reader, a casual gamer and a dabbler in the visual arts. He has worked as a designer and currently spends his days neck-deep in code as a front-end web developer.

He also holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and currently resides in Ottawa, Canada with his wife, two daughters and one little fluff ball of a dog named Wicket.

Beth Tabler

Elizabeth Tabler runs Beforewegoblog and is constantly immersed in fantasy stories. She was at one time an architect but divides her time now between her family in Portland, Oregon, and as many book worlds as she can get her hands on. She is also a huge fan of Self Published fantasy and is on Team Qwillery as a judge for SPFBO5. You will find her with a coffee in one hand and her iPad in the other. Find her on: Goodreads / Instagram / Pinterest  / Twitter


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