Shiloh - Helena Sorensen
Release date - April 16th 2013
Find - Goodreads/AmazonUK/AmazonUS
'In a world of perpetual darkness, a boy is born who wields remarkable power over fire. Amos is no more than seven when he kills a Shadow Wolf and becomes a legend in Shiloh. He would be destined for great things were it not for the stories his father tells about a world beyond the Shadow and a time before the Shadow. Only madmen hold to such tales, and in Shiloh, they have always come to bad ends.
Amos is fearless. He walks with easy confidence, certain that the Shadow cannot touch him. Even his family is in awe of him. His father marvels at his skill with the bow, his mother thanks the gods that he has all the courage she lacks, and his sister, Phebe, worships him for saving her from an attack of the Shadow Cats.
On a trip to the village of Emmerich, Amos rescues the Magistrate’s son, Simeon, from the village bullies. Simeon, fair-skinned and pale-eyed like other Dreamers in Shiloh’s history, becomes Amos’s constant companion and dearest friend. Simeon becomes a part of Amos’s family, listening to fireside stories told in a way he’s never heard them before and learning to wield a bow and arrow.
The year the boys turn twelve, they are itching to prove themselves. An impetuous plan to steal a beautiful lantern goes miserably awry, and the lantern’s owner prophecies that Amos will be devoured by the Shadow. For the first time, a seed of fear is planted in Amos’s mind, and when his father is killed by a Shadow Wolf on the last day of the Great Hunt, the fear takes hold. If so great and brave a man as his father could fall to the Shadow, what hope has he?' - Goodreads
Shiloh is the story of a boy living in the darkness, famous throughout his world for doing something at the age of seven that most fully grown men would not be able to do - killing a Shadow Wolf. Amos kills the Shadow Wolf after it attacks his parents flock and his younger sister, Phebe and from then on his life is never the same. Growing up with his heroic deed constantly hanging over his head, he is now known as Wielder of Fire and when Amos rescues one of the village boys, Simeon, from the bullies he befriends him. Simeon is different too, he's a gentle boy, son of the village magistrate but perhaps most importantly he's a Dreamer, a rare talent in Shiloh which only leads to ostracise him further.
The world of Shiloh is permanently shrouded in darkness, candles and lanterns are always lit even in the middle of the day. The people have always lived this way, for as long as they can remember and this adds to the dark atmosphere of Shiloh, it lends almost a permanent layer of despair and foreboding to the story. When Amos is told that he will fall to shadow he fears the worst and assumes he will be killed by a shadow wolf. What he couldn't predict is the tragedy about to strike his family, unable to see his way through the grief Amos starts to drift from his path and falls to the darkness. Years pass, Simeon becomes the strong character - in love with Phebe despite her scars, and in a way becomes the true hero of the story. Things are never quite as they seem in Shiloh and what you expect from a character is mostly not what you get. Ultimately it's about making the right choices, admitting that you maybe were wrong and facing up to the consequences. I can honestly say that I loved most of the characters that Helena has created, the only one I didn't was Mordecai - for obvious reasons! I got completely drawn into Shiloh, everything was so vivid which considering everything about it screams darkness was amazing. The writing was solid, the world created so detailed and believable. I had a hard time putting this book down and I can only hope that we get to read more about Shiloh, maybe in the form of prequels, as I would love to know more about the Immortals involved and the Night Weavers, the Nelya and a host of other things I still have questions about. If you like detailed, complex fantasy then Shiloh is the book for you and enjoyable whether you're a YA fan or not.
Many thanks to Helena for sending me a copy of Shiloh!