This book review contains spoilers!
Author: R. J. Furness
Series: Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Have you ever seen something you can’t explain? Did it vanish as fast as it appeared?
Perhaps that thing you saw was lurking in the shadows, and you caught a glimpse of it before it went back into hiding.
There’s a good chance, of course, that the thing you saw simply emerged from your imagination.
Or maybe, just maybe, it didn’t…
Sapphire Smyth is no stranger to rejection. When she was only a baby, her father abandoned her after her mother died. Since then, Sapphire has never felt like she belonged anywhere, or with anyone. To make things worse, her foster carers have now turned their back on her – on her eighteenth birthday. After living with them throughout her childhood, Sapphire has to find a new home. Is it any wonder she finds it hard to trust people?
Abandoned by the people she called family, Sapphire is alone and searching for some meaning in her life. Except that meaning has already come looking for her. When she discovers mysterious creatures lurking in the shadows, Sapphire soon realises that her fate is unlike anything she had ever imagined.
About the author
R. J. Furness has been passionate about great stories since he was able to read. At an early age, he would frequently create new characters, worlds and creatures, then write crazy tales all about them. However, until now, he has always kept those ideas completely secret. After having a lifelong interest in animals, music and anything spawned from pure imagination, R.J.’s first love are now his wife and children. Over time, he has also developed an overwhelming desire for mugs of tea and good biscuits to dunk. He lives in Southport, England, with his family, a dog and several fish, chickens and quails.
Plot / Storyline
We start the book with an attack on Sapphire’s mother, Michelle. Sapphire was still a baby so we can assume that she slept through it but her father, Jason witnessed everything. Some fog like creatures with yellow eyes killed her mother.
Then we make an time jump of 18 years. We get immediately tossed into bickering with Ben, her closest friend. It’s about her home situation. Sapphire says that she doesn’t have a home. They told her to leave and they only care about the money, according to Sapphire. We don’t know who “they” is. They continue bickering and we find out that she has foster parents. They gave her jewellery that belonged to her mother and then threw her out because she’s 18 now and they can’t afford to keep her anymore. There’s something up with the bangle because sapphire could easily slip it on but can’t take it off. She also mentions that her father abandoned her. Ben tried to convince her to go back with him but she refuses to listen to him and runs.
Later she returns and finds out that Ben has left. A part of her wishes that he was still there. She goes through her stuff and finds a blanket but then she sees something materialising on the stone in front of her. When she touches the stone she sees that the bangle looks like it’s on fire although it’s not hot. She yanks her fingers back and observes it. Then she touches the stone again and sees two yellow flares starting to weave between her fingers. When she moves her hand, the lights move with her. The greyish shadows turn into a fox. The fox appears to have the urge to protect her and curled on the ground, lifting his head. Then he disappears because someone is approaching. A stranger steals her stuff and is trying to force her to leave. Sapphire uses the shadows to help her and scares the stranger. The shadows turn into terrifying two beasts.
We don’t know what exactly happened because there’s another time jump. Sapphire ran to Ben’s house and hopes that he will let her in. Ben opens the door and let her in. He asks what happens. She vaguely says that she hurt the man. She thinks back and the man had suddenly been lying on the ground. Then she tells Ben that she doesn’t remember what happened. Then she’s suddenly interested in the dark silhouette-style motif resting in the centre of Ben’s hand. Ben refuses to talk about it. Suddenly a woman appears and Sapphire quickly leaves Ben’s home. Ben goes after her but she refuses to come back.
The fox returns again. She calls him Sid the shadow fox. She asks the fox where he came from and he shows pictures as an answer. First a dragon’s head that was at Ben’s house. Then a fairy that became something that resembled a monster. Then it turned into the head of the dragon again. Sapphire still doesn’t understand it. Then the fox sits and begins to howl. Then we find out that there’s an elderly-looking woman. She greets the woman but the woman ignores her and walks away. The shadows disappear. She decides to go to her foster parents but then the man that stole her stuff returns with several friends.
Turns out that one of his friends is Georgia, she knows Sapphire from school. The man is called Liam. They both agree that Sapphire is a freak. Liam just holds Sapphire and doesn’t do anything so Georgia hits her in the stomach instead. They beat her up. A man, Jake asks if they’re done. Georgia says they’re done when Liam says so. Sapphire says that they’re done and escapes.
She’s still on the streets when a mysterious black fog appears. Somehow Ben finds her and begs her to go with him.
They’re back in Ben’s kitchen. Sapphire is attracted to tankards, they’re artefacts. Ben returns and asks what she’s doing. Sapphire asks about them but Ben avoids the question. There’s also a woman in the room that avoids eye contact with Sapphire. Ben doesn’t know where to start so Sapphire asks about the woman. Her name is Grace and she’s Ben’s sister. Sapphire is pissed that Ben had never told her this before. Ben changes subject and wants to talk about today. Sapphire mentions that she can’t take off the bangle that she was gifted today. She also talks about the black smoke. Grace says she’s not ready but Ben is stubborn and wants to tell her it anyway when Sapphire when she goes to the wooden panels in the hallway. The fox apparently told her how to find a secret door.
They’re suddenly on a lush green hillside overlooking a town. Ben tells her they’re at Vanhine. Grace says that they need to go but Ben argues that Sapphire belongs here. They’re going to visit someone and Ben promises her that he will explain everything on the way. He starts by asking about the bangle. Sapphire mentions it turns orange when something happens and that she has seen things that she couldn’t explain. Ben explains that there are creatures living out of sight. They’re called Drakes. He’s confused when Sapphire asks about foxes. Drakes only exist in the shadows but they can only shift to Ben and Sapphire’s world with their help. Sapphire is annoyed and tells him that she’s already seen them. Turns out that the fox was her mother’s guardian. They aren’t as powerful as Drakes but they protect people like Ben and Sapphire.
They use some kind of tram to reach the town that they saw on the hillside. When they reach the town they see the ocean, and mermaids.
One of the first things that I noticed is that Furness loves adding details. Everything is extremely detailed. That’s great. What I personally disliked was that things felt rushed. I would have loved to see the story build up a bit more before we reach the action but that’s a personal opinion.
Main character. She appears stubborn and can summon a fox and other shadows with her bangle.
Sapphire’s friend that has a yo-yo with him all the time.
There isn’t any romance in this book.
What I liked the most
Well honestly I liked the ending the most. Things are slowly starting to make sense and there are mermaids! Mermaids are great!
The first part of this series is mostly explaining what’s happening with Sapphire without mentioning what’s EXACTLY going on. It’s making you guess. What is she? What’s going on? It’s to make you interested. I personally would’ve liked the story to start a bit slower. It felt rushed for me. Others might like that pace. You’re immediately thrown into action after all. I just missed the world building a bit but the ending gave me the idea that we will get that in book 2. It’s a very promising start for this series!
Thank you @TheWriteReads for inviting me to this blog tour! It’s my first blog tour and I really enjoyed participating in it!