“He’s a warlock, a madman. But he’s also the only thing keeping me alive.”
After giving the first book in this series, King Of Flames, a shining 5 star review a few months back, I think it’s safe to say that I was pretty goddamn excited to be reaching for book two! I was in awe of Kathryn’s way of writing and she did an amazing job of drawing me into Lydia’s story. Book two didn’t disappoint in any way, shape or form. No matter your preferred genre, I urge you to check out this series!
King Of Shadows by Kathryn Ann Kingsley is book two in The Masks Of Under series and continues Lydia’s story. After attempting to flee, she finds herself face-to-face with Aon, the mad warlock who had haunted her dreams with his murderous plans and sadistic nature. The more time she stays captive in Aon’s lair, the more she learns about her feelings and the reason why Edu and Aon are at war with one another. Despite what’s going on, there’s one goal which must stay her main priority – survival.
To my delight, the start of the story continued exactly where book one left off! There was no gap in the story, and thankfully, having finished book one not too long ago, it was really easy to get back into the swing of things. I remembered how terrifying Aon was and how much Lydia wanted the world to swallow her up whole and to escape from him. She’d previously just made her escape, and, after thinking she was free from her ‘prison’, she finds herself face-to-face with the one figure that had haunted her dreams for so long.
Aon is a mysterious thing. As scary as he seemed up to this point, I couldn’t help thinking I might be wrong in some sense. Is he actually a threat to Lydia? Does he plan on killing her, as her dreams once told her, or is he simply looking for some affection? What do you want?! I felt just as confused as Lydia straight away, but I love how much Kathryn’s new image of this character made us readers think. I had a really positive mindset for the book and was excited to see just how far Aon would go to keep her safe. Would he stick to his word, or would it just be another lie?
Lydia’s opinion of Aon slowly begins to change. She gradually feels less and less threatened by his words and often finds herself feeling much more safe in his presence; something she never thought would happen. I love how Kathryn always keeps us on Lydia’s wavelength and how the reader also feels as though there may be a possibility that Aon is trustworthy, and someone who can keep her safe from harm. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to see how two characters who are total opposites come together. I had a feeling there would be a great adventure ahead!
The description of Aon’s home and library was breath-taking. I found myself creating a clear, solid picture in my mind of the illusive corridors, mirrored floors and strange-looking hallways. I also loved how we felt Lydia’s loneliness at times, without the text actually stating this. Despite feeling alone in a strange new world, she’s in awe of everything around her and everything seems to be a new learning experience. I felt I got to know Lydia more and more as time went by and how her mind seemed to be changing slightly; how she felt about Aon and the situation she had landed herself in.
“Seeing you discover my world for the first time was far too tempting to ignore.”
When everything seemed to have evened out in Lydia’s mind and she slowly began to accept things as they were, something strange happened after she spoke honestly to Aon – almost as though time had shifted. She couldn’t help but think things were about to get an awful lot more confusing. I for one hoped the story would get even more mysterious – I was so incredibly eager to see the rest of the story!
The way Aon acts through the middle of the book causes multiple questions to pop up in Lydia’s mind. For example, as Lydia was going through a nightmare, Aon woke her, erased the terror she was feeling, and sent her back to sleep. It was almost as though there was an inch of kindness in his dark, terrifying self. Lydia becomes more and more intrigued by the warlock and every day she questions his motives more and more.
It soon becomes clear that Aon is able to speak within Lydia’s mind and control her actions to an extent. I loved this – Kathryn has managed to make one of the creepiest characters in the whole series so far even more creepy! I think Aon has to be one of the most memorable characters I’ve met in a book over recent years. The detail that has gone into creating such a complex character has been done really well.
One of my favourite scenes throughout the whole book had to be the gala – the ghoulish masquerade ball. The description of how people were dressed, the conversations had between characters as well as how the whole scene was portrayed in general really made it stand out for me. Lydia was nervous and Aon’s control over her made things intense and on edge. Everyone seemed interested in her; after all she is an interesting ‘creature’ to many people of the Under! It was also great to hear about the characters we knew from book one, and to see just how much they’d changed…
I remember feeling genuinely scared for Lydia at a few points in the story. There are a few graphic scenes, such as how Aon was torturing a prisoner. I felt like jumping into the pages and grabbing Lydia to keep her safe! However, there were many parts of the story which made me think a little more about how Aon was actually protecting her. He’s a tough nut to crack, but this makes everything so much more exciting and made me want to read on after each chapter ended.
“If I did not find you worth my time, you would not be occupying so much of it.”
As we travel back and forth from character to character, king to king, it’s interesting to see what one character makes of another. For example, when we hear from King Edu’s side of the story, Aon seems just as sadistic and creepy as we originally thought, and as a reader, I felt repulsed by his actions. However, when we revisit Aon and Lydia’s story, I want nothing more than him to end up as a kind and loving creature who treats Lydia with the respect she deserves. Kathryn has amazed me yet again with how many emotions she can make her readers feel all in one go!
We see Lydia’s feelings for Aon become stronger and as things start to heat up between the pair, we see her question things more and more. We see Aon’s ‘human’ side as he lets his guard down, and Lydia comforts him – something she never thought she’d do (and neither did I!) We learn a lot about the truth behind Aon’s actions and what happened many years ago between himself and Edu. This really gave the story more meaning – combine this with Lydia and Aon’s blossoming relationship, and you have a book that is simply un-putter-down-able – yeah, it’s even worthy of a brand new word!
As we enjoy Lydia and Aon’s story, we also follow another story of how Edu plans to kill Lydia. It’s quite frustrating to know there is danger ahead when we want nothing more than a happy ending for our MC! We also get to learn a great deal more about the Great War and the history of the Under, which I think will be great for the rest of the books in the series. With how I found this book, I’m so looking forward to continuing with the next book in the collection!
I found the ending of the story started to get a little dark – the plans to have Lydia killed were getting greater, and even though some characters object, there is simply nothing they can do. Lydia is really starting to enjoy her time in the Under, seeing different places with someone very special to her. She has no idea of the plans that are unfolding behind her back, by the people who she didn’t necessarily see as a threat. It just goes to show that in life, you shouldn’t really trust anyone too much…
It was at the final chapter where I thought, “goddamn it, Kathryn – don’t end the book here!” SUCH a cliff hanger. Just as Lydia thinks she’s getting used to her settings and her new life in the Under, violence strikes out again. We witness a cruel battle and a twist that was just as shocking as it was clever. Is this the end for Lydia? Can Aon do anything to save her? Who knows – I NEED book three!
“Fear, like an old friend, came rushing back to her.”
The epilogue gave the final scene some closure. It was a shocker, but this final summation from Aon as he collected his thoughts really ended things well. What is next for Lydia and Aon? Will he get the revenge he deserves? Will he right all the wrongs like he claimed? I still have so many questions – I’m so invested in their story and I’m confident book three will be as flawless as the first two.
I seriously didn’t want this book to end! Kathryn has amazed me more than I thought possible with book two of her series. I felt so involved in Lydia’s story and in each character Kathryn has created. I’m so emotionally invested in the characters at this point and I would honestly give this book 6 out of 5 if I could. (Five will have to do, I guess…)
Every description, every relationship and every scene has been crafted to perfection throughout the entire story. I’ve come to the conclusion that I want Lydia to be my best friend and that I genuinely want a holiday to the Under…as long as I can come back!
Thank you so much (once again) to Kathryn for the opportunity to read the second installment of her incredible fantasy series! You can purchase your own copy of King Of Shadows from Amazon, available on Kindle or paperback. 📚 You can also follow Kathryn over on Twitter for more updates!
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