by Leigh Fallon
Series: Carrier #2
Published on July 9, 2013 by HarperTeen
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Their love could destroy them all.
Through the ages, Marked Ones have harnessed the powers of the four elements: Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. Much about the elements is shrouded in mystery, but one thing is certain: A relationship between two Marked Ones has the potential to cause widespread devastation.
Megan and Adam—Air and Water—are determined to defy the risks.
But the power that swirls inside Megan is growing in twisted ways. And the closer she is to Adam, the closer Megan comes to unleashing a dark force that could spell destruction for the entire Marked line.
I am happy to report that Shadow of the Mark is a definite improvement on the first in the Carrier series, Carrier of the Mark. I didn’t fall head over heels for this book nor did I hate it. Fallon starts off slow–perhaps a little too slow for my liking–and finally gets to some drama and tension…only to have it drop off before anything can really happen. This book developed the world of the Marked and the Order introduced in Carrier of the Mark while continuing the cheesy romance of Megan and Adam. In all, it was a decent read and had me hooked to read the next book at the end.
Once again, the mythology of the world Fallon created is the reason this book was given such a high rating. Shadow of the Mark expands on the introduction Fionn gives Megan to the Marked world. But now we’re dealing with knights too. No, not chain mail knights of old, but protectors nonetheless. The Knox come out to play too, which I enjoyed because I think Fallon had a great setup for a few antagonists with their group and could’ve brought that out a bit more. Fallon also introduces a new kind of “Marked” but I’ll leave that for you to find out (hint: they discuss it in book 1 but don’t really give it a name). The new bits about the Marked definitely helped to flesh out the world a bit more and veer this book away from the Twilight similarities that Carrier of the Mark had.
Even the characters improved (well, most of them). Megan and Adam were still “I can’t stand to be away from you” but their relationship was a tad strained. I liked Aine and Rian in Carrier of the Mark, and their unusual attraction to Megan definitely kept me reading through some of the drier sections of the novel because I wanted to know why (granted, I had a pretty good idea but that’s beside the point). I did feel bad for some of the events at the end of the novel, especially concerning Fionn, but then I was also more attached to the supporting characters than the leads in the first place. Chloe’s character took time to grow on me but I liked her by the end, by which all the secrets had been revealed.
The biggest downfalls of this book: pacing and no clear antagonist. Shadow of the Mark didn’t have the wordy, dry info dumps like Carrier of the Mark did, but it took a while before even a hint of action came through. I kept waiting and waiting for things to pick up and they finally do, but I wasn’t left gripping the edge of my seat at the end. It was more along the lines of, “That was good, but I can wait for the third book. No rush.” The novel went from slow, slow, still slow, bursts of action, slow ending. As for the uncertainty, that the end, Fallon leaves the reader unsure of who should be really trusted, the Order or the Knox. Neither, as revealed in this book, is perfect but instead very flawed. I couldn’t get a sense of a real antagonist in either Carrier of the Mark or Shadow of the Mark because one was never developed. You’re told that the Knox is bad but are they really? It would’ve been nice to see a stronger antagonist take shape.
Shadow of the Mark gave me more of what I would’ve liked to see in book 1 and has me interested in continuing to read the series. The pacing isn’t great but Fallon’s world helps to make up for that, along with her supporting cast. She blurs the lines of right and wrong, just as they are in real life, and makes you question who–or what–is truly at fault. I recommend reading it even if you didn’t like the first book. This series is good for anyone looking for a YA paranormal romance in a fresh new world.