A review by thepurplebookwyrm
Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop

dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Thoughts on the trilogy as a whole:
Premise: The Black Jewels follows a set of characters centred on a long-awaited, female Chosen One™ (called Witch) and all living in three adjacent or overlapping realms – I’m still not quite clear on the geography involved – two of which are Living Realms, one of which is essentially the Underworld. The people of these realms are divided into regular humans and non-human animals, and magic folks and non-human animals. Then there are different races of humans, and humanoids called the Eyrien – which have wings sprouting from their backs, because reasons. There are also different castes of magic users, seers and the like, and a magic system that is both tied to sex and channelled through gemstones you get by birth, but can then upgrade once you come of age. Ultimately though, you never really get solid background information on any of this.

Thoughts: The world-building (or lack thereof ahem) bugged me a tad in book one, and I’m happy to say this improved a little in book two specifically – especially given a dragon was involved – but I mean... I mostly stayed on for the vibes to be honest. The plot, for its part, revolves around a long-awaited, female Chosen One™ (called Witch), and gendered power dynamics are also, somewhat, played around with in this trilogy, in a way that could’ve been very cringe... but surprisingly wasn't actually, so yay!

The characters were sufficiently enjoyable, but I am disappointed the Chosen One figure never had her own point of view chapters or paragraphs. I certainly liked the gradual addition of magical non-human animals, and never tired of the witchy, spidery, mildly edgy imagery. I’ll even give a point to the author for the way she handled sexual violence and trauma in her story – unlike any number of other authors whose works I've perused... ahem.

This trilogy – which remained fantasy romance, not erotica, throughout – wasn’t anything to write home about, really, outside of its... "aesthetics" or "vibes", shall we say, but I enjoyed those well enough and just… had fun with it overall, honestly.