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Review: Of Thieves and Shadows by B.S.H Garcia

“Some secrets are best left to the shadows. But shadows have a mind of their own.”

To say that Of Thieves and Shadows is an incredibly ambitious and impressive debut would be a huge understatement. Filled with rich cultures and lore, vivid settings, diverse characters, and plenty of imaginative races and creatures, this sprawling multi-POV fantasy story of truly epic proportions kicks off The Heart of Quinaria series with an absolute bang.

For centuries, the land of Quinaria has been in a state of tenuous peace, but all that is about to crumble as rumours of an ancient evil long presumed banished are starting to stir again. Led by the rare human-nyrian hybrid Elaysia, a ragtag group of unlikely allies are launched into a dangerous quest which finds them at the centre of a web of ruthless political machinations and centuries-old schemes. It’s up to them to uncover the truth and save their world from a catastrophic war, if only they can keep their own secrets, insecurities, and hidden agendas from bringing them down first.

Of Thieves and Shadows hits the ground running with an incredibly gripping, dark, and ambiguous prologue that just immediately hooked me. And before you can even start to process those mind boggling events, the focus shifts and we are smoothly transported into one of my favourite types of settings ever: a sprawling tree-city. Right from the get-go, the intrigue, tension, and stakes are just sky-high, which resulted in me devouring the first 150 pages in one morning (no, I truly have no regrets).

While Garcia nails pretty much every aspect of her storytelling, it was without a doubt the imaginative and breathtaking world building that kept me glued to the page. I simply cannot overstate how incredibly impressed I was by the richness of this world, both in terms of its breadth and depth. This is on par with the greats of the genre (think Lord of the Rings or ASOIAF), but because it is not your typical medieval Europe-inspired fantasy, Of Thieves and Shadows feels exciting, refreshing, and ultimately just stands out from the crowd.

From the imaginative settings, to the deep lore and history, to the intricate and tense political landscape, to the conflicting religious views, and to the plethora of diverse cultures, creatures, and races; everything was just so wonderfully well-realised and organically introduced.
I especially loved the subtle Buddhist influences and the big emphasis on nature in this story, and was filled with wonder by the concept of the highly coveted and mystical nevethium sources. Oh, and we’ve got cute baby stormbirds as animal companions (which I honestly would have loved to see even more of!!). I mean, what else could you wish for?

What’s more, we get to explore this stunning world in all its glory through the eyes of our six compelling and diverse protagonists. The multi-POV storytelling structure is just executed to perfection in Of Thieves and Shadows, with each character providing a fresh perspective through their unique cultural backgrounds, worldviews, and life experiences. Themes of duty, honour, fate, freedom, morality, and mental health were all explored with surprising depth, and added so much heart to this exhilarating story. 
I did end up preferring some characters over others, with the more morally grey/complex characters quickly gaining my favour (looking at you Davier and Konar), but they all had a very interesting journey and satisfying character arc.

Now, there were some moments where the fast-paced nature of this quest fantasy hindered my personal enjoyment a little bit. The passing of distance and time felt a bit rocky and unclear to me at times, and especially in the beginning there were some life-altering and world-shattering events that either happened off-page or were brushed over quite quickly.

However, the world building and character development didn’t suffer a single bit from the faster pacing, so ultimately I feel like I can only applaud Garcia for how well she balanced this entire story. Every single aspect of this narrative is masterfully and intricately tied together, and seeing everything converge in the end was satisfying beyond belief. Heck, I didn’t even feel like I was very emotionally invested throughout this entire tumultuous journey, and then I got to the end and was hit straight in the feels by all the brutal twists and turns.

All in all, this was an incredibly gripping, exciting, and promising fantasy debut that just kept me turning the pages. And after that shocking epilogue, I have a feeling we have barely scratched the surface and things are only going to explode from here.
If you are looking for a fast-paced epic fantasy with immersive world building, lots of travelling, complex character dynamics, ruthless political scheming, cute baby animal companions, and numerous jaw-dropping revelations, then you have to pick up Of Thieves and Shadows. Highly recommend!

4/5

Thank you to the author for providing me with a free ebook in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Of Thieves and Shadows

Of Thieves and Shadows

Of Thieves and Shadows

Of Thieves and Shadows

Of Thieves and Shadows

Of Thieves and Shadows

Of Thieves and Shadows

Of Thieves and Shadows

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