The Shadow Road (2010), by K. V. Johansen: Revisited

The first three times I finished The Shadow Road, I immediately wanted another text, a sequel, so that I could continue to dwell in K.V. Johansen’s mesmerizing world.  This time, however, I read the series more critically, thinking more deeply about the narrative structure of the series, rather than merely revelling in the enjoyment of the story as expressed in each individual text. In the end, The Shadow Road leaves us in a place that does not actually require further narrative, however much we might want it.  The denouement presents us with effective closure and yet leaves the possibility—should the author so desire—of further stories: notably not further illumination of the questions that have run through the series to date, the secrets of the Yehillon, as these mysteries are solved.

Nethin’s experiences in The Shadow Road are presented as a retrospective report of dubious authenticity. Rather like the frame narrative of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale (1985), the two short descriptive paragraphs that frame Nethin’s story inform us that years—if not decades or centuries—have passed between the action of the novel and the moment of our reading. The scope for further tales within this period is vast and encouraging, and we can only hope that Johansen sees fit to populate those years with recorded narrative. Apparently she has plans for a fifth book, temporally placed between Nightwalker and Treason in Eswy, but Orca Publishers is not yet convinced. I suggest that anyone reading this review, who appreciates The Warlocks of Talverdin even a quarter as much as I do, write to Orca Publishers (orca@orcabook.com, attention Sarah Harvey, Orca Young Readers, Juvenile & Teen Fiction Editor) and let them know how much we want to see that fifth—and sixth, and seventh—installment.

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