Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Released: July 3rd 2014
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Raim is no closer to figuring out the meaning of the broken vow that sentenced him to exile for life. But with his former best friend now a tyrannical Khan who is holding the girl Raim loves captive, he finds it hard to care. Every day, he and Draikh learn more about their powers, but it quickly becomes clear that he will never be able to stop Khareh and free Wadi unless he can free himself from the ultimate taboo of his people. Reluctantly, Raim begins the long journey down to the dangerous South, to find the maker of his oath.
In Khareh's camp, Wadi is more than capable of devising her own escape plan, but she's gradually realizing she might not want to. The more she learns about Khareh, the more confused she becomes. He's done unquestionably bad things, horrific even, but he's got big dreams for Darhan that might improve their dire situation. What's more, rumours of a Southern king massing an army to invade Darhan are slowly gaining ground. Only if the Northern tribes can come together under a single ruler will they have the strength to fight the South - but what if that ruler is an impulsive (albeit brilliant) young man, barely able to control his ever-growing power, and missing the one part of him that might keep him sane? Whoever conquers the desert, wins the war. And the secret to desert survival lies in Lazar, which is set to become the heart of a great battle once again. (from Goodreads)
The Shadow's Curse was an enjoyable sequel to The Oathbreaker's Shadow. A lot of things happened that I didn't expect and while this series is a duology (I think?), I think there's definitely room for another book should Amy McCulloch wish to return to this world and these characters.
In The Shadow's Curse, we finally found out what promise caused Rain to become an oathbreaker. I must admit, I was still confused over what happened and how exactly Raim broke this generational promise but I can't explain it without spoilers, so I'll leave it for now. I also didn't really understand why Khareh's spirit appeared to Raim when Raim never broke his oath to Khareh; the spirit Draikh said it was because Khareh broke his own promise, but that's not what usually happens when an oath is broken, and there was no further explanation. But I can't really complain that much because I really liked Draikh and he was probably one of my favourite characters. He was the only person who was truly loyal to Raim, and was constantly teaching him and healing him and making him laugh. Even though he was only a spirit, a shadow of Khareh, he was the best part of him. Khareh without Draikh was a tyrant, and a bad ruler who let the power get to him. Draikh was the opposite; a calm, clever, natural leader who knew what to do in bad situations, who was constantly pushing Raim to be the best he could be. I'm pretty sure Raim would have died several times over if it weren't for Draikh.
That being said, Raim did grow in this book, and was learning more about himself and the tasks he was best suited for, as well as expanding his sage powers. I liked his determination to find Wadi and also to save his brother, especially since it was Raim's fault he needed saving in the first place. Raim started off not the smartest person, nor the best judge of character, but he learnt from his mistakes and realised not to trust people so easily. He was the first person to admit his faults, and I liked that about him - he knew he wasn't perfect, but he tried his best anyway. I was surprised when he (spoiler ahead, highlight to read) forgave Khareh for what he did to Dharma - I don't think I could have, and Raim was so close to Dharma as well, it seemed a little unbelievable.(end spoiler) But it was the necessary action and I guess Raim did what he thought was best for everyone.
At first, when I learnt the POVs would be split between Wadi and Raim, I was a bit disappointed, but I shouldn't have been, because her perspective was equally interesting. We got to see a different side of Khareh through her eyes, and also saw the lengths she was willing to go through to help Raim. I do wish we had seen more of her thoughts or feelings, especially after she was forced to kill people (I kind of felt like we didn't get a proper reaction from her, especially from the second death), but I do like that she accepted what she had to do even though she really didn't want to do it; she had a strong resolve. Khareh, while I didn't like him, was an intriguing character, and seeing him from Wadi's POV where he would try to justify his terrible actions and yet still feel guilt over some of them made him more complex. I wasn't really too convinced by the Raim/Wadi romance, but I have to confess I couldn't remember much of what happened between them in the first book, so that could be why.
Plot-wise, there was a lot of focus on getting to the South, and we found out more about the differences between all the separate societies which was interesting to see. There were quite a few twists and a lot of things I wasn't expecting, though the ending wasn't too much of a surprise. I do think quite a few things were left open as well, particularly about Lady Chabi, so I would definitely read a third book if one were to be written. I also found it interesting that the South didn't knot their promises or have binding oaths, so I think that would be another thing to explore, especially after the way things ended.
Overall, I liked The Shadow's Curse and would recommend this series to fantasy fans. I personally hope for another book, though I'm still happy enough for it to remain a duology.