Published: the 19th of May 2019
Written by: Yumoyori Wilson
Series: Shattered Souls
Length: 300 pages
Source: Free copy generously provided by the author.
Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to ARC read this book, and received a free copy in exchange for my honest review. However, please note that all opinions and views are my own and I purchased the book myself after it was released.
Cursed forever to be an ugly duckling in the shadows… my beauty and magic hidden away from the light…
Thom has owned me for so many years; he loves me for my beauty, although you wouldn’t know for how often he leaves bruises upon my skin. And if I even think of shifting? That’s what the worst punishments are reserved for.
My body aches to let my feathers out, for my wings to stretch to the sky and to feel the sweet relief of the world disappearing beneath me…but I’m trapped, locked up, and hidden away.
None of the swans Thom keeps are allowed to show their true colors, but it’s worse for me because I’m the only one of us who’s different. Black wings, fragile heart, and legs that won’t stop dancing in the dark… Thom would kill me if I ever used my magic to escape.
I am his Dark Swan, after all. I’ll always belong to him.
But then one day, freedom calls in the distance. My carriage spills over, and death comes for me…and introduces me to four shifters who will save my life, just as surely as I will save theirs. A bear, a lion, a jaguar, and a wolf, all as broken and as destructive as me.
It’s with them I find out I was never meant for the light, and that freedom is found in the depths of the dark.
Warning: This is an 80,000+ word Dark Paranormal Romance that covers dark themes including trigger topics. Read at your own discretion.
I absolutely loved the first 55% of the book. It’s so deliciously different and dark, that I just couldn’t put it down. Though, I love the author’s usual worlds with familiars and colourful worlds, I was so excited for this release – and the first half of the book did not disappoint!! The world building is limited (or limited information about the world is given), which makes it easy to imagine just how bad everything is. Personally, I’m in awe of how the author handled such a dark book, with serious triggers. A lot of authors shy away from the ugliness of such sensitive subjects, but instead Yumo takes her readers on a journey that showed how horrific the life of this dark swan is.
Due to the author not listing the trigger points in the blurb (yes I know it warns about possible triggers, but I feel that every author should list the points for their readers), so I’ll do it here:
- Mental and psychical abuse
Sophia is a dark swan shifter who has been held captive by her Master since she was 7, when he and his guards killed her parents. This is part of the prologue, so when the story really starts she is 21. By this point she has endured 14 years of being held captive, being beat, raped and just all around treated like a lesser being, by her Master Thom. The only light Sophia has in her miserable life is when she gets to dance. As Thom’s favourite captive the other shifter slaves hate her, and show her unkindness at every opportunity. Sophia thinks of herself as a survivor and refuse to let her mind being completely swallowed by the fear and hopelessness, that would be too easy to give in to. Instead she focuses on not giving her Master her mind, her way of keeping a little bit of control, in a world where she has none. Due to rebellions and circumstantial luck, Sophia manages to get away from her Master. Lady luck smiles at Sophia for a change, when her escape leads her right into the arms of four hot shifter’s. These guys are part of a community of shifter’s that has escaped their Masters, and are now in hiding.
After Sophia meets the guys, the story started to feel weird to me. This girl, who has been in captivity for fourteen years and probably raped daily for five plus years, is totally fine with strangers touching her. And no, I don’t just mean an innocent arm brush. When the first guys she meets places his hand on the small on her back and leads her away, she instantly feels sexual attraction and actually has sex with him a few hours later. Within days she’s managed to sleep with all four friends, and her lust seems insatiable. At this point the pace sped up so much, that I have no idea how much time passes. But she never talks with the guys, except for when she’s getting busy (you know what I mean!!) – and the guys don’t talk to each other, until they suddenly decide all five of them should hook up at a hotel. This is where the story felt unrealistic to me!! Why would a girl that’s suffered rape over and over want to jump into bed with the first guy she meets outside her captors? The only reason I can see, and that I’m kind of hoping for, is that it’s some kind of coping mechanism we get to know more about in the next book.
I’m also struggling with the relationships! This feels more like a girl that’s just sleeping around, instead of a harem. I miss the relationships interactions that are not sex related. Like why don’t they have normal conversations? Or just hang out? And how can the guys just magically be okay with her sleeping with all of them, when they never even talked about it? The books ends on a seriously mean cliffhanger, so be aware of that before you throw yourself into this book.
The reason that I, despite all the above, still rate this book 3.5 hearts is because of the writing in the first half of the book – and because I’ve gotten to know the author. This was such a strong and brilliant take on dark romance, and I hope the author continues that writing path in the second book!! But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Yumo, it is to expect the unexpected. So I have faith everything will be explained, and hopefully perspective and more information will make this seem as she intends.
How do you feel about dark romance? Do you think the authors owe it to their readers, to list the specific triggers in the blurb? Let’s chat in the comments!