I am going to review the entire Shadowlands series in this post, in the interest of keeping it all together. DON’T read the next book’s review if you haven’t read the previous book yet! I don’t put spoilers for the individual book in the review, but there will be some spoilers if you haven’t read the PREVIOUS book! I’m not going to include the Goodreads summaries because then the post would be entirely too long. Check the series out here.
Shadowlands by Kate Brian
Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
Describe it in three words: Creepy – Pageturner – Surprising
First impression: Love Kate Brian, must read
Last impression: HOLY SHIT
Review: Goddamnit Kate Brian, you never disappoint me. I can’t think of the last time I read one of her books and wasn’t completely shocked, intrigued, and/or baffled by the ending. Let me start out by saying that the only reason I read this book is because it was written by Kate Brian — I would usually never pick up a book that sounds this creepy. The other books I’ve read by her (primarily the Private series) can get a little freaky, but not this much. It took me a little while to get into, but that was mostly because I refused to read it at night and scare myself into thinking I was going to be murdered before bed. I just steamrolled through the second half of the book this afternoon because I could not put it down. I can’t even think of a good reason why this book doesn’t have five stars, but I kind of forced myself to give it 4.5. I like to reserve 5 stars for books that are completely lifechanging and/or would go on my “favorites” list. The book begins with Rory being chased by a serial killer through the woods and her escaping from him. Her family, which includes her father and her sister Darcy, is going into “witness protection” to the island of Jupiter Landing. Let me just say it is extremely unreasonable that the FBI had the family head off in a car by themselves while a killer was on the loose, but whatever. Steven Nell, the man attempting to kill her, has seemingly followed her to the island and is plotting when he can kill her. The island seems like a typical vacation spot, but many of the locals treat Riley differently. It seems that there are secrets that they’re not telling Rory as she begins to uncover weird happenings and more evidence that Nell has followed her family to the island. Hindsight is 20/20 with books like this; I never pick up on little clues as they’re happening, but everything becomes so obvious at the end. A lot of reviewers predicted the ending, but I did not see it coming at all. Even until the very last sentence of the book. Thank god the second book was already released (and the third book was actually released this week too). I immediately started with the second book, Hereafter, and it has a completely different vibe. As usual, my reviews are spoiler free, but the genre of the book almost completely changes. If you’ve read her Private series before, you are no stranger to Kate Brian pulling this kind of switch, but again for some reason I did not see it coming. I won’t get too much into it, but the twist has me looking forward to the rest of the series even more. I was expecting to be relieved when this book ended, because it seemed too creepy for me to fully enjoy, but it completely exceeded my expectations. Any book that makes me repeat “holy shit” to myself for the next few minutes is a keeper in my mind. With the exception of We Were Liars. Fuck that book.
Hereafter by Kate Brian
Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
Describe it in three words: Explanatory – Pageturner – Surprising
First impression: Gimme the second book ASAP please
Last impression: Not as big of a “twist” at the end as the previous book, but still left me wanting more
Review: Again, please don’t read this review if you haven’t read Shadowlands yet! At the end of Shadowlands, the reader learns why there have been all sorts of weird happenings on the island. If you remember the “dream” that Rory has in the beginning of the book (where the family’s truck is driven off the road and Nell kills Rory and her family; she kills him right before dying), you learn that this was not a dream – it actually happened. Hereafter describes what the purpose of Jupiter Landing is and how Rory will fit in to the big picture. The storyline of the first book is confusing, because the reader is struggling to figure out what happens on the island along with Rory. This book’s plotline is much more linear and easy to follow. We learn the logistics of how everything works, how Rory ended up there, and how she will be able to help them. A little bit of a romantic subplot starts to form (which everyone probably sees coming from a mile away, based on the first book). That part was kind of uninteresting to me because Jesus Christ she JUST got to the island and already has these intense feelings for someone? Talk about some love-at-first-sight bullshit. It’s hard to talk about this book without divulging a lot of the first few chapters of the book, but the general idea is that some weird shit starts happening on the island that hasn’t happened before. Many people think Rory is responsible because she just got there and the timing seems right. However, there’s something more sinister going on and all of the locals will have to figure out what the fuck is going on. I finished Shadowlands and immediately started Hereafter, because I needed to know what happens next. I finished this book within about 3-4 hours because I parked my ass on the couch and couldn’t stop reading. Both books were pageturners, but it took Shadowlands a little longer to get to that point for me. I was about halfway through the book when I realized I couldn’t stop. It’s hard to say which book I liked better because they were almost two completely different genres. The first book was confusing, but this book tied everything together (while introducing new problems the characters would have to work through). I rated it the same as the first one because I think it was different, but just as epic. The ending of the second book definitely had a surprise twist (or maybe not, if you’re good at predicting book endings), but I can’t help but feel like it isn’t what it seems. Kate Brian seriously fucks with my head with her books. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, she throws a complete curveball and changes literally everything. The theory that Rory and her friends develop at the end of the book is probably not correct – in my opinion. Hopefully Endless ties everything up nicely so I can finally figure out what the hell is going on!
Endless by Kate Brian
Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
Describe it in three words: Surprising – Somewhat cheesy – Pageturner
First impression: Okay this book better give me some answers
Last impression: That was a little cheesy, but I’m glad that’s how it ended
Review: Don’t read this review unless you’ve read Shadowlands and Hereafter! Well, I’m a little sad that trilogy is over. I feel like this book was my least favorite in some ways. In Shadowlands, you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what the fuck is going on there. In Hereafter, you’re fascinated by the island and learning what it’s all there for. In Endless, it kind of just…ends. I gave all three books 4.5 out of 5 stars because they were extremely entertaining and basically made me read during every free second of the day for the past two days. I like that Kate Brian tries to bring you down different paths as you’re trying to figure out who is responsible for all of the havoc on Jupiter Landing. As I’ve said before, she confuses and surprises me with every book she writes. So, in Hereafter we learned that Jupiter Landing is the limbo place people go before they pass on to the afterlife. The Lifers, which now includes Rory, are responsible for helping souls get into either the Shadowlands (like hell) or the Light (like heaven). They meet the souls, see their stories, help them wrap up unfinished business, and bring them over to their final destination. This is essentially their purpose until the end of time. There are weird happenings on Jupiter Landing, though, and everyone is trying to figure out who is responsible for them. (It’s kind of hard to separate the last two books since I read them so quickly and immediately; their plot lines were more similar so Shadowlands is almost a completely different thing in my mind). The cheesy love story continues and stops and continues (as usual) and someone else gets thrown into the mix to make it a triangle (as usual). That part kind of annoyed me, but without it the ending wouldn’t have been the same – so I guess I’m okay with it in the grand scheme of things. I feel like this book made me so suspicious of EVERY character, which is obviously what Kate Brian was hoping for, but I wasn’t too shocked at the end when I found out who it actually was. They were a frontrunner in my mind for most of the last book. One thing I didn’t enjoy too much either was the random chapters from the point of view of the villain. I saw that some reviewers liked this, while others didn’t. I don’t know…to me, it didn’t add that much to the novel. They essentially repeated the same shit over and over again in each of their chapters. Although, sometimes it helped you narrow it down to at least cross a few suspects off your list. Also, while there was a lot happening in this book, there also wasn’t a lot happening… does that make any sense? Different events kept occurring and the plot was moving, but it seemed like she could have gotten to the end result much faster and with less random crap in between. I feel like this review makes it seem like I didn’t like the last book, which isn’t true. I enjoyed it because everything gets wrapped up in the end and you learn what will happen for the rest of the characters.
Overall trilogy review: I really did enjoy these books. Kate Brian is one of my all-time favorite authors. She manages to write about creepy topics and characters without deterring me from the books. I’m much more of a fluffy YA reader, but the mystery aspect and her writing style are what draw me in. This series was a total pageturner for me. I was halfway through Shadowlands on Monday at lunchtime, finished it around 3:30, started Hereafter around 6, finished it around 8:30, started Endless today in the early morning, and just finished it after reading on and off throughout the work day. Luckily all three books were out already when I started; I don’t think I would have been able to wait in between books! Overall, the concept of these book was really interesting to me. It turned out COMPLETELY different than what I expected after reading the summary of the first book. I wish the actual purpose/activities of the island were able to happen more often, so I could have experienced a little more of it. Kate Brian, you get a gold star from me as always.