Half Sick of Shadows

Ace: Berkley. Jul. 2021. 448p. ISBN 9780593200513. $27. FANTASY
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.
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