Half sick of shadows

Laura Sebastian

Book - 2021

"The Lady of Shalott reclaims her story in this bold feminist reimagining of the Arthurian myth from the New York Times bestselling author of Ash Princess. Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come--for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future. On the myst...ical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends--countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic. When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle. As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate--and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way"--

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Subjects
Genres
Fantasy fiction
Arthurian romances
Novels
Published
New York : Ace [2021]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Item Description
"The story of Camelot is hers"--Cover.
Physical Description
434 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9780593200513
0593200519
Main Author
Laura Sebastian (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In this feminist retelling of Arthurian legend, Arthur, Guinevere, Morgana, Lancelot, and Elaine—the Lady of Shalott and our narrator—become fast friends in the magical realm of Avalon, tasked by Nimue to put Arthur on Camelot's throne in the hopes it will unite the humans and fey. Elaine, an oracle, uses a loom to channel her visions, and the story jumps back and forth in time as she tries to avoid a future she knows will end in treachery and heartbreak. Some retellings fail to convince readers, who already know the ending, to suspend their disbelief for the sake of the story. Sebastian, however, cleverly bypasses this issue. Elaine's visions inform the reader of Lancelot, Gwen, and Morgana's betrayals early in the narrative, and the reader is often reminded that these visions do not represent fate but possibilities. A trigger warning: Elaine often experiences visions of her suicide. All in all, this captivating and moving tale—centered around powerful Morgana, impulsive Guinevere, and troubled Elaine—explores how friendship both binds and breaks under pressure, especially once these three women start to question why they must sacrifice themselves to fulfill Arthur's destiny. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

DEBUT The story of King Arthur is well-known, but now a character approaches with a new point of view: the Lady of Shalott. Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future, like the women in her family before her. She escapes the tower where she had been imprisoned, and she grows up in Avalon, along with her friends Arthur, Guinevere, Morgana, and Lancelot. Each has their own destiny, which Elaine has divined from her dreams and her weaving loom. When Arthur is called back to Camelot, Elaine and the others goes with him for support; for Elaine, it's also an attempt to subvert some of her own visions. Yet as fate pulls them ever closer to tragedy, Elaine knows that she might have no choice but to follow the path laid out for them—or she can sacrifice to change things for the greater good. Arthur and Lancelot are prominent here, but it is the powerful women—Elaine, Guinevere, and Morgana—who are central to this timeline-skipping story. VERDICT Sebastian's adult debut is filled with historical leanings with a feminist twist. Themes of friendship, fate, and morally gray decisions made for greater good are at the forefront of this Arthurian retelling.—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Sebastian's slow-burning adult debut (after the Ash Princess series) reimagines Arthurian legend from the perspective of the young Lady Elaine Astolat. Sebastian imbues this classic character with great agency and power, delving into Elaine's growing talents as a seer and increasingly complicated relationships with her brother, Arthur, and friends, Morgana, Lancelot, and Guinevere. Together, this band of young adults leaves their home in Avalon to help Arthur take his throne in Camelot—but to become king, Arthur will first have to pass a series of challenges set by the wizard Merlin and refute another's claim to the crown. Elaine, whose visions have foretold both her own death and Morgana's betrayal of Arthur, guides the would-be king through these trials while her friendships with Morgana and Guinevere grow strained under the pressure of their quest. Sebastian's banter-filled take on beloved characters offers plenty of enjoyment, but the plodding pacing and Elaine's repetitive visions—the majority of which project too far into the future to affect the events of the novel itself—prevents this adventure from reaching its potential. This is best suited for die-hard devotees of Arthurian legend. Agent: John Cusick, Folio Literary. (July) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Sebastian's slow-burning adult debut (after the Ash Princess series) reimagines Arthurian legend from the perspective of the young Lady Elaine Astolat. Sebastian imbues this classic character with great agency and power, delving into Elaine's growing talents as a seer and increasingly complicated relationships with her brother, Arthur, and friends, Morgana, Lancelot, and Guinevere. Together, this band of young adults leaves their home in Avalon to help Arthur take his throne in Camelot—but to become king, Arthur will first have to pass a series of challenges set by the wizard Merlin and refute another's claim to the crown. Elaine, whose visions have foretold both her own death and Morgana's betrayal of Arthur, guides the would-be king through these trials while her friendships with Morgana and Guinevere grow strained under the pressure of their quest. Sebastian's banter-filled take on beloved characters offers plenty of enjoyment, but the plodding pacing and Elaine's repetitive visions—the majority of which project too far into the future to affect the events of the novel itself—prevents this adventure from reaching its potential. This is best suited for die-hard devotees of Arthurian legend. Agent: John Cusick, Folio Literary. (July) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Sebastian's poignant retelling of the Arthurian legend is narrated by Elaine, Lady of Shalott. Elaine—who comes from a long line of oracles—has struggled since childhood to manage the emotional fallout of the foresight afforded by her visions, and feels isolated within a society where magic is banned. When she arrives in Avalon at age 13, she immediately finds a home with a group of new friends including Morgana, Guinevere, half-fey Lancelot, and royal heir Arthur. The tight-knit group of friends share a strong connection throughout their teens but find their bond fraying when Arthur's father dies and they must relocate to Camelot to assure his ascension to the throne via a series of quests. Through a blend of flashbacks, present-tense narration, and visions of the future, Elaine relates the group's political machinations and high-stakes adventures. Although the novel contains familiar elements of Arthurian myth, Elaine's lyrical narration lends a wistful, contemplative tone to the story. The novel's exploration of themes such as seeking autonomy, managing change in adolescent friendships, and facing adult responsibility will likely resonate with older teens. Characters have a diverse range of skin tones and hair colors; cultural prejudice exists between various factions of the kingdom and is openly discussed and challenged. An author's note alerts readers to themes of mental illness and suicide. VERDICT Sebastian's adult debut is highly recommended for teens who enjoyed Naomi Novik's fairy-tale retellings and Kiersten White's "Camelot Rising" series.—Kelsy Peterson, Brighton Grammar Sch., Melbourne, Australia Copyright 2021 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"The Lady of Shalott reclaims her story in this bold feminist reimagining of the Arthurian myth from the New York Times bestselling author of Ash Princess. Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come--for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future. On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends--countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic. When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle. As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate--and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Elaine, the Lady of Shalott, learns of the ancient and tragic prophecies about her and her friends on the mystical island of Avalon and tries to use outlawed magic to change the destinies of Guinevere, Lancelot, Morgana and Arthur.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"Laura Sebastian is the next Madeline Miller. . . . a fierce, fresh, lyrical tale that will enthrall until the last page."--Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Huntress A Popsugar Best Summer Read of 2021 A Bibliolifestyle Most Anticipated Summer 2021 Sci-fi and Fantasy Book "Magical, haunting, unique--I haven't been so excited about an Arthur book since I read The Once and Future King ."--Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author The Lady of Shalott reclaims her story in this bold feminist reimagining of the Arthurian myth from the New York Times bestselling author of Ash Princess. Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come--for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future.On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends--countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change destiny--and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.