Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Today is the release day for the final book in Sarah Fine's Guards of the Shadowlands series, and if you know anything about me at all, it should be that I'm a total fangirl for these books...or any of Sarah's books if we're being honest. But Sanctum was the first book of hers that I ever explored and I was captivated from the very start.

These books follow Lela as she heads to the Afterlife in hopes of saving her friend Nadia, who's just committed suicide. Because of the way in which she died, Nadia is sent to a not-so-nice place in the Afterlife, and Lela can't stand to see her suffer. Lela sneaks into this place where Nadia is sent, and things progress from there. Lela makes a lot of sacrifices over the course of this series, but so do many of the people she comes into contact with.

I'm celebrating the release of Chaos today -- even though the fact that the series is ending is rather bittersweet -- and in doing so, I'm reviewing the last three pieces of this story: Vigilante, Chaos, and Stories from the Shadowlands. Since it's the end, I can't really reveal any details without risk of spoilers, so I'm just going to provide you with feelings-based reviews...they should more than get the point across. ;-) I've come to love all of these characters so much, and I'm sad to say goodbye to them, though I'm glad to have discovered them in the first place. And Sarah's created so much bonus content in addition to her full-length books...it's clear that she loves her characters every bit as much as I do.

Title: Vigilante
Author: Sarah Fine
Series: Guards of the Shadowlands, book #2.5
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: July 25, 2014
Source: freebie for pre-ordering Chaos
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Ana has done her time as a Guard in the dark city and now that she’s finally been released into the Countryside, all she wants to do is find Takeshi, the love she lost to the Mazikin so many years ago. The only problem? He’s nowhere to be found. Now Ana faces a choice—remain alone in paradise or venture into the depths of the Wasteland in an attempt to rescue the man who still owns her heart.

I haven't read the other novella in this series entitled Captive, but I'm here to tell you that you absolutely should read Vigilante prior to starting Chaos. It's told from Ana's perspective and it gives you a ton of insight into her mindset going into Chaos. Otherwise, you might be a little...thrown by some of her actions at first, especially considering what you already know about her character from the previous books.

Also, you get to meet Takeshi. At least in Ana's flashbacks, anyway. And you'll get to see some seriously swoony parallels between their relationship and that of Malachi and Lela. Plus, you'll meet someone only vaguely referenced in a previous book, and things will all start making sense finally. Or at least as much sense as the will of the Judge can ever make to us mere mortals.

Vigilante is short and sweet and, in my opinion, totally necessary for full comprehension of these characters and what they mean to each other. It was free with your preorder of Chaos, but I'm not sure if that's a thing after the fact or how you can go about getting it now. :( I'll try to find out, if anyone's interested.

Title: Chaos
Author: Sarah Fine
Series: Guards of the Shadowlands, book #3
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Source: from publisher via Netgalley, PB won from Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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With Juri in control and everything in absolute chaos, Lela plunges into the depths of hell to free Malachi from creatures that have waited decades to exact their revenge. But the Judge has her own way of doing things, and Lela must work with Ana, the new Captain, who has a very personal mission of her own. Together, they infiltrate the most horrifying realm either has yet encountered in the Shadowlands—the bitter landscape ruled by the Mazikin.

The stakes could not be higher, and Lela must accept the help—and love—of people she barely knows or trusts. As alliances and loyalties shift and she realizes the soul she came to save isn’t the only one in need of rescue, can Lela summon the strength to see the fight through to the very end?

I could not have asked for a better ending to one of my favorite series...seriously. Some things went the way I'd expected, but there were a lot of surprises, as well...and not all of them welcome. But I can honestly say that this final installment was everything I was hoping for, and then some.

Obviously, with the way Fractured ended, we knew Lela was going before the Judge again and that she wasn't going to let Malachi go without a fight. Lela's fierceness and her willingness to sacrifice herself for those she cares about are what I like best about her, and that hasn't changed. And now she's got Ana -- or rather, Ana's got her -- as they trek through the Mazakin realm to rescue both of their loves.

This novel is kind of split between the Mazakin city and the rescue attempt and then what happens after. This final book is fraught with emotional moments: tearful reunions -- and amorous ones! -- heartbreaking goodbyes, daring escapes and startling realizations. It wouldn't be any kind of finale, though, if it didn't make you feel the whole gamut of emotions. I've always felt that there was a good balance between the darkness and the light in this series, though, even if it didn't always feel like it at the time. And nowhere is this balance more evident than in the dark, chaotic atmosphere of the Shadowlands and the nearly palpable romantic tension between Malachi and Lela.

I love happy endings as much as the next girl, but I'm also okay with a realistic ending, one in which the hero doesn't get the girl or the world isn't saved. I honestly couldn't tell you which type of ending I prefer because it really depends on the story thus far. But I can tell you that it is much easier for me to let go, to say goodbye to characters if I see them on their merry way before doing so. With this series, though, I don't think either ending would have made saying goodbye any easier. (Make of that what you will.)

I will say that this conclusion to the Guards of the Shadowlands series was completely satisfying. And it made everything these characters have been through totally worth it. This series has been so intense and so emotionally draining at times, but it has also been completely lovely at times, too. I cannot fathom never having experienced this world or never having met these characters.

GIF it to me straight:
I don't want it to be over. :(

Title: Stories from the Shadowlands
Author: Sarah Fine
Series: Guards of the Shadowlands, book #3.1
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: October 6, 2014
Source: gifted by author
Purchase: Amazon

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Not ready to leave the Shadowlands yet? From Malachi’s earliest days in the dark city to some of the characters’ experiences after the final scenes of Chaos, this bonus volume gives readers an in-depth look at other realms within the Shadowlands and what it means to be a Guard, whether in the dark city, or the land of the living.

It includes:

--All of Malachi’s journal entries (more than 200) including 30 exclusive, never-before-published entries that reveal his perspective during the events of Fractured

--A 50-page novella from Jim’s perspective (Libertine)

--Three bonus scenes from Sanctum from Malachi and Ana’s perspective (She is the Mission, An End and a Beginning, and The Dark Tower)

--Two lengthy scenes that show some of the surviving characters post-Chaos

This collection is available in e-book format, only.

When Sarah sent this to me, there was a warning not to view the two post-Chaos scenes until I'd actually read the final book because they were very spoilerish. So, I'm warning you now. I waited and read this collection of journal entries and short stories last, and I think that's the best order, especially when it comes to the short stories themselves.

I'd read some of Malachi's journal entries here and there over the years, but never have I sat down and read them all back-to-back. It was insightful, to say the least. Also, there are entries that have never been shared before, from during the time period that Fractured covers, and those are well worth reading, especially if you know what transpires in that book. Very entertaining and very enlightening.

I knew there was so much more of Jim's story that we weren't getting in Fractured, and I'm glad that Sarah decided to write it and share it with all of us, especially since she fed us more of Henry's story in Chaos. As both were part of Lela's team of Guards in the Land of the Living, it's only fitting that both of their stories be told.

I am so thankful for this bonus content because after I finished Chaos, I was kind of a pile of goo and yet still wasn't ready for the final goodbye. It was nice to get even more from Malachi and Ana's perspectives, though I think my favorite part of this book was having all of Malachi's journal entries in one place finally. This collection is a must-have for any fan of the Guards of the Shadowlands series.

Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands, #1)Captive: A Guard's Tale from Malachi's Perspective (Guards of the Shadowlands #1.1)Fractured (Guards of the Shadowlands, #2)
Vigilante: A Guard's Tale from Ana's PerspectiveChaos (Guards of the Shadowlands #3)Stories from the Shadowlands (Guards of the Shadowlands, #3.1)

About the author:

Sarah Fine was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast, where she lives with her husband and two children. When she’s not writing, she’s working as a child psychologist. She is the author of the young adult novels Sanctum, Fractured, Chaos, Of Metal and Wishes, and Scan. Her first adult fantasy novel, Marked, releases on January 1st, 2015, from 47North.

Find Sarah:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads | Tumblr


  1. I really need to finish this series. I have only read the first and need to continue. I have the second one on audio so I really don't have an excuse. oh wait yes I do... there are just too many books. great review.

  2. shame on me, i'm not familiar with this series at all! just fyi, your fangirling is highly infectious and i will definitely be giving these badass books a go :)

    Alicia @ Noverly Things


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