This book is utterly hilarious. Entirely delightful. Deliciously entertaining. A blast. Sheer fun. However you say it, it’s a great book if you need a laugh or twenty. I loved it so much!
William Bradshaw, who’s from our world, gets tricked into becoming the king of the goblins in a fantasy world. The goblins are hilarious, chaotic, destructive (but in a funny, mostly-harmless way), can warp space with their craziness, and are a blast to read.
Will is not a fan of being king of a run-down kingdom but his contract is pretty inescapable. Doesn’t mean he’s not going to try…
Throw in some twists on fantasy tropes, an amusing writing style that had me in stitches at nearly every sentence, and an unexpected war from another king who manages to be as incompetent as the goblins, and you have a tale of hilarious shenanigans sure to brighten anyone’s day!
Except Will’s. His day is by no means brightened. XD
I can’t wait to read the rest of the books!
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Fantasy • YA and up • 2022 • 308 pages (paperback)
Read August 21, 2022 • 5 stars (I’d give it 6 stars if I could!) • Fave character: Jayden! • Source: Amazon (Note: I also beta-read this before publication, and read the chapters as they released on Booksie before that. So this is my 4th read and I still want to read it again!)
I ADORE THIS BOOK AND CAN’T RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH! GO READ IT! That’s the short version. 😉
You know those books, series, and characters that you love SO much that you can’t properly express it in words? Well, this book, series, and Jayden and Dana are that for me. I seriously just love these characters SO MUCH and will follow them anywhere, and this series is up there with a select few on my list of very-top-favorite books! (Tolkien’s, Howl’s Moving Castle, Paper Crowns, and these two books. That’s the list.)
Dana Illwind and War’s Shadow is just SO GOOD! I feel like it’s a bit like Diana Wynne Jones meets Lord of the Rings, because it’s hilarious AND epic, and there are only so many books that can pull that off. Plus it has a distinctive FEEL that I can’t really explain but makes it a favorite of mine. It’s such a unique, fun book. I adore the cleverness of the plot, writing, and dialogue (so quotable!), and how we’re getting deeper into this world and all its kingdoms and monsters and intrigue (with doses of humor and epic characters, of course!). Everything’s building into a crescendo and I’m very much looking forward to the final book one of these days!
Jayden and Dana have gone from smaller, more disconnected adventures fighting monsters and lower-level villains, to being pulled directly into the center of an intricate web of war and magic and nefarious plots. Seeing them hold their own against all of that, while each growing in their own ways, had me glued to the page in breath-holding delight.
Plus, they’re just the best characters! Jayden and Dana make the BEST pair, like Holmes and Watson or something. So classic and perfect!
Jayden is snarky, courtly, and dangerous at turns, and woe to any wrongdoers (human or otherwise) who draw his attention—especially if Dana doesn’t redirect his rage to keep the destruction to a minimum! XD Jayden is simply one of my top-favorite characters of all time, and I have the HARDEST time describing this unpigeonholeable character, but he’s superb and always has the BEST comebacks in witty dialogue, and having another whole book with him was a TREAT. He has a haunted past and a bit of an anger management problem when he sees injustice (don’t worry, Dana’s helping with that—when SHE isn’t as angered by the injustice as he is…), but he’s on the side of right and is a force to be reckoned with. There’s a wonderful quote in this book, by a very wise character: “I see a heart of gold wrapped in rusty chains. Break them off for yourself and those who need you.” Probably one of my favorite lines about Jayden! It’s perfect for the journey he’s going on. I just love him so much.
I mentioned Dana a few times in there because they’re so tied together in the story, and I love how they help each other see each other’s weaknesses and help overcome them, but also show each other their strengths and encourage that. It makes me happy! They’re an excellent pair of friends and Dana is just the sort of person one wants at one’s side. It was fascinating how things become sort of personal for her by the end (not to be spoilery…), and how it shows how far she’s come in these two books. She’s got to be one of my favorite female characters of all time. I love how she’s full of the BEST common sense and is much more down-to-earth, while Jayden and others around her are being dramatic. The interplay there is SO much fun. XD She’s sturdy and no-nonsense and is becoming quite the swordswoman, but I love that it’s simply her good-hearted way of doing the best she can and helping others.
It was intriguing to have “interlude” chapters seeing what the villains think of what Jayden and Dana are up to (even when they don’t always know it was Jayden’s fault. XD), plus there’s a new character who is verrry interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him…
Some other random thoughts: The whole section set in the kingdom of Bascal was one of my favorites! It was such fun! The ball scene and a certain sword-update were fabulous. There’s the return of some fan-favorite characters from the first book (Lootmore, Suzy, Prince Onus!), and new, intriguing ones I’m very curious about (Cassandra, Malcolm, Palan…)! And not to get into spoilers but there mayyy have been a dragon involved at some point… I loved the Brotherhood of the Righteous and Father Firepower. I also found the shadow magic to be pretty neat—just a really cool magic system that Jayden is VERY good at. The fluffy fox!! Plus goblins being mischievous and also more organized than expected… The goblin-gate was hilarious. XD
I’d be here all day if I mentioned all my favorite things, but that’s a few of them, and particularly Jayden and Dana’s banter and dialogue, which is 100% pure GOLD! *grinning*
DANA ILLWIND AND WAR’S SHADOW is book 2 (book 1 is DANA ILLWIND AND GROWING SHADOWS) and I think I liked this one even MORE than the first one, if that’s possible. It was amazing to come back in this second book and be immersed once again in more Jayden and Dana goodness. ^_^ I’ve been following Jayden and Dana on their adventures for some time now and these stories never cease to make me happy!
I’ve read both books four times each (once you count reading them in serial format, then twice-through beta-reading, and then reading the final published version aloud—because I have such a fun time doing all the voices and sharing the stories with my siblings, which is the highest honor a book can get from me, that I have to give it a dramatic reading to my family) and I never get tired of these adventures. I anticipate re-reading both books soon, just like I read and re-read Howl’s Moving Castle. Some books are just so delightful to revisit, and this is definitely one of them!
In short, this book is funny, clever, and deep in unexpected ways, with a dash of spooky, and inhabited by two of my favorite characters ever. It’s just SO good and I adore it to Other Place and back! Seriously, just go read this.
If you love epic fantasy with well-built worlds, whimsical/humorous fantasy that’s a little tongue-in-cheek satire (think Discworld, Magic Kingdom for Sale, or some of Diana Wynne Jones’s books), and unique characters who will steal your heart, you absolutely MUST check out the Dana Illwind series! 10/10 recommend!
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Just a quick heads-up: I’m having a giveaway for a paperback of Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows (by Arthur Daigle), my favorite read of 2020, over on my Instagram, so go check it out at https://www.instagram.com/deborahocarroll and enter to win! (US only due to shipping, ends 3/25.)
(If you are NOT on Instagram and would still like to enter, follow me here on my blog, add the book on Goodreads, and then drop a comment below on this blog post and I’ll enter you for a Kindle e-book copy instead. I’ll reply to the winning comment on 3/26/21 to notify the winner so do check back then if you enter!)
My brief thoughts so you know a bit about the book if you missed my full review:
This book is one of my top-five favorite books of all time, so of course I had to buy an extra copy to share the love! 💚
What do you get when you pair up a loyal, practical farm girl and a lone-wolf, elegant, snarky, insanely powerful enchanter with a chip on his shoulder, and set them loose to fight monsters and injustice in a fantasy kingdom?
This snarky, clever, sheer fun fantasy novel, is what! It perfectly balances comedy, epic swashbuckling, and humorous or heartfelt character moment that give me all the feels.
Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett (it is #MarchMagics this month, after all!), and Terry Brooks’ Magic Kingdom for Sale.
Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden are one of my favorite character duos ever and I just love them to bits!
Good luck if you enter in either place and thanks for reading! I highly recommend this book! 💚
Well, that made it to my top-five favorite books of all time! Jayden and Dana are some of my favorite characters EVER. I was a fan of short stories about their adventures (two of them first appearing in Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, and on Booksie), but they finally have a novel which just released and I. AM. ECSTATIC. I’ve read this four times now and I never get tired of it. I just can’t put into words how much I love it! I love humorous banter, I love fantasy stories, and I love these characters SO MUCH.
What do you get when you pair up a practical, solid farm girl and a lone-wolf, elegant, snarky, insanely powerful enchanter with a chip on his shoulder, and set them loose to fight monsters and injustice in a fantasy kingdom? This snarky, clever, sheer fun fantasy novel, is what! It perfectly balances comedy, epic swashbuckling, and those humorous or heartfelt character moments that I’m totally here for! Did I mention Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden are one of my top favorite duos EVER? THEY JUST MAKE ME SO HAPPYYYY! *deep breaths*
Let me break down some of my favorite things about this book.
1. Jayden: He’s my favorite. An elegant enchanter with anger management issues but a burning heart for justice, he’s open about his own flaws but won’t tolerate injustice and has it out for the king and queen. He can be politely cutting, snarky, or in a towering rage of righteous anger in turn, and woe to the corrupt, the villains, the oppressors who get in his sights. He has the best dialogue (my favorite!), and is always ready with a cutting remark or a bit of his shadow magic. (Also, watch out if you disrespect his friend Dana—oh, boy.) He covers a hurt, broken past with an exterior that’s alternately bored, casual, angry, or just—Jayden. I can’t do him justice in a description like this, but he’s one of my top favorite characters EVER! (He also gives me slight Howl vibes.)
2. Dana: Then we have Dana, who is just as marvelous in a different way. This sturdy, good-hearted girl is #goals. It’s amazing the way this fifteen-year-old girl can be the only friend of the world’s only sorcerer lord—and the only one to make him see reason. 😉 She brings out the best in him and he in turn respects and informs her, and they’re my faaaavorite! They make an incredible pair, with Dana being the reasonable one trying to stop him from getting killed or redirecting his destructive tendencies, and often saving the day in her own way. I can’t really describe her either but she’s got to be one of my favorite heroines, and I don’t have many of those. She’s fabulous! I just love seeing her (and both of them) grow on this journey. They’re the most epic duo!
3: The Humor: I LOVE funny books. Love them. The style and the humor, the mix of comedy and dry wittiness, and all the snark and bantering dialogue! Glorious. There’s such a variety of humor, which I think is tons of fun, and I love how the funny parts often keep it lighthearted, without detracting from some of the heavier topics and the real struggles they face in this kingdom. Humorous AND epic? Sign me up! Which brings me to the next part.
4: The World and Story: Part tongue-in-cheek comedy, part epic fantasy kingdom, Meadowland Kingdom etc. creates the perfect backdrop for Dana and Jayden’s adventures. A mix of ordinary, spooky, and elegant in turns, the towns and people they encounter are deep in struggles caused by monsters, injustice, and a king and queen out for destruction. I love how, despite Jayden’s issues, he and Dana do so much good throughout the kingdom. They battle injustice wherever they see it, rid the world of destructive monsters, and encounter zany characters like Sir Lootmore and his terrifying cat Jumpscare, Suzy Lockheart the alchemist, various mischievous goblins, and others. It’s the BEST mix of my favorite type of epic fantasy with humorous fantasy. It’s just everything I’ve ever wanted in a book!
I’ve been awaiting this book releasing ever since the very first short adventure I read about Dana and Jayden in the multi-author anthology “Mythical Doorways.” Over the next couple of years, I followed their continuing adventures with sheer delight every time a new “episode” was posted online—my family can attest to how my day was always brightened and I’d go around in a cloud of happiness all day whenever there was “a new Jayden and Dana story!”
I just can’t explain my love of these characters and their fantastic, humorous, feelsy adventures. I’m absolutely beyond thrilled that there is now a whole novel available so the world can experience this book that I’ve been in love with since before it existed in book form. It’s a dream come true to finally have it on my shelf! I can’t wait for the next book. ^_^
DANA ILLWIND AND GROWING SHADOWS is my favorite book I read in 2020 and one of my top-5 favorite books I’ve read, period. Joining the ranks of Lord of the Rings/Silmarillion, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Paper Crowns, I simply ADORE this book and can’t recommend it highly enough! Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, Discworld, or Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold. Teens and adults alike will all find this book delightful.
Go read it! We all need some humor, adventure, and these amazing characters to improve our lives. It’s my favorite and I wholeheartedly recommend it!
You may also like . . .
Let me know if it sounds fun! I just love it sooo much! Thanks for reading! 🙂
While working on my top-favorite-books-of-2018 post, I realized that I read a ton of awesome short stories this last year!
So while I’m working on that post (which I’ll share later this week), here — have a list of some fabulous short stories! Because short stories don’t get enough love.
Also, the winner of the ARC paperback of Echo North iiiiiis . . .
Congrats! I’ll be in touch with you about getting your info so I can get your prize sent off to you ASAP. 🙂
Dearest readers who did not win (as there can sadly be only one winner), thank you so much for entering and celebrating my blogiversary with me! I hope to do more giveaways soon. 😉
Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer is releasing next week on January 15, so there’s still time to preorder a gorgeous hardcover! (And I think there’s some preorder goodies [!!!] if you do, so check that out . . .) Or ask your local library to get it. Or put it on your birthday wishlist. Or something! Because you must read it and it’s awesome. ❤
Okay! Onward to my favorite short stories I read in 2018!
Top 15 (ish) FAVORITE SHORT STORIES
(Titles link to Goodreads. I also link to my reviews on here if I have them.)
I loved SO many of the short stories in Mythical Doorways, so overall I’m just calling it my favorite anthology I’ve read in a long time. ^_^ (I’m taking the mini-reviews from my full review on Goodreads.)
Everwild (J.M. Hackman) — This one was awesome! A boy about to grow out of the foster system is given a choice between two worlds… Fascinating and vivid, and I liked how it ended. Lovely portal fantasy with a few twists. It was great. ^_^ Makes me want to try more by this author—and I fortunately have a novel (Spark) which can help me do just that. 😉
Well of Fate (Savannah Jezowski) — Tosk the squirrel was so adorable! What a super-cute—and funny—little tale. Having a squirrel main character who’s a little bit nervous but determined to be a hero, in a mythology setting, was so much fun! And there was an awesome twist near the end! 😉 I’m looking forward to checking out the author’s When Ravens Fall novella…
Jericho and the Magician’s Daughter (H.L. Burke) — AWK. Featuring Jericho and Rill a few years before the first Spellsmith and Carver book. They’re adorable! And they didn’t know they were in love… quite… yet… Super cute and exciting. It was also neat seeing a little more of Hedward Spellsmith. And of course there was Jaspyr the mechanical fox! It’s a great story and I loved this look at a sort of mini-prequel about Jericho and Rill. ^_^
Threshold (Laurie Lucking) — AWK. THIS STORY. ❤ *hugs it* I don’t want to give anything away about it, but it had a couple of twists on the usual portal fantasy thing, and I was SO WORRIED about how things would turn out, but I absolutely LOVED IT. Shawn was my favorite. He’s the best. 😀 I got kind of a Peter Pan sort of feel with this one and I loved that. ^_^
Idiot’s Graveyard (Arthur Daigle) — One word (name?): Jayden. Jayden is one of my new favorite characters and I’m not even sure WHY, but he’s quite unpigeonholeable and fantastic and giving me Howl/Doctor Strange sorts of vibes. I could easily read a whole novel (or series) about Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden (they remind me a little of things like Skulduggery Pleasant or Jackaby). I learned there was another short story featuring them (in Hall of Heroes, another Fellowship of Fantasy anthology) and instantly read/devoured/loved it. The world is kind of spooky, and yet a little elegant. And it’s so FUNNY. Like… I just love the style. I kept wanting to quote it. All the snark and polite cutting dialog! Anyway, it was a glorious short story and I loved it muchly. ❤ Just excuse me while I wish for more tales of Jayden and co. and am tempted to re-read the ones there are so far…
Dragon Ward (Jenelle Leanne Schmidt) — How fascinating! I won’t spoil anything, but as a fan of this author’s Minstrel’s Call series, I loved how this had two or three different backstory references, when I only expected one! LOVED LOVED LOVED. It was delicious and unexpected. Anyone who hasn’t read the series will enjoy it too. The story of a girl and a dragon, and a strange experience they have… and meeting a certain character, who I love! 😀 An absolutely delightful tale. ^_^
(I need to finish this anthology, but these two stories are my favorite so far.)
Cinders (Kendra E. Ardnek) — Charming, and Cinderella’s a kitten! (Review.)
At the Corner of Elm and Main (H.L. Burke) — Melted my heart away, a story about a sentinent lamp-post! Petition for this to be a Pixar animated short, please. (Review.)
Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden — stories by Arthur Daigle
If this were a novel, it would totally be on my top five books of the year. 😀 As it is, I simply have to mention these episodic short stories that I’m lumping together as “one” continuing story which I really hope will one day be published together as a collection about two of my new favorite characters of all time, Dana and Jayden. ^_^
The first two stories are free in two different Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies. They’re available also on a free website called Booksie (which is sort of like Wattpad) so you really have no excuse not to go read them right now. 😉 (I mean, unless you don’t like slightly spooky, sarcastic, hilarious, epic, fantastical short stories featuring two of my fave characters. :P)
I read several of Kyle Robert Shultz’s new short stories this year (as his editor), and enjoyed all of them, but of particular note are these three personal favorites of mine:
My Man Beasley (on Kyle’s Patreon) — Featuring three of my FAVORITE things, this one is basically Tam Lin meets Wodehouse meets Beaumont and Beasley. Enough said. XD (What would happen if Nick Beasley met someone like Bertie Wooster and had to help fix his magical problems?)
The Centaur Express (free on Kyle’s newsletter) — Todd Crane, part-time centaur in the magical wild-west, has to fill in for their version of the Pony Express, and the mailbag will literally eat him if he stops. XD
Someday at Christmas — This one gave me ALL THE FEELS and it’s a Beaumont and Beasley/Crockett and Crane crossover and it’s perfect. ❤
Mollie E. Reeder short stories
Sooo, maybe these are novelettes. I DON’T CARE. I have to talk about them because I ADORE THEM BOTH.
The Sixth Christmas — Aaahh! How is this author so amazing?? 😭 😍 *hugs story* Fantastic Christmas short story! A Christmas Carol sort of vibe but original and awesome. I loved it so much. I just meant to read the first page and then couldn’t put it down. ^_^
Windswept (Sarah Delena White) — A gorgeous fantasy original-fairytale-esque short story. ^_^ Tiding me over while I wait for the sequel to Halayda. ❤
(Oh, look, three of these are Christmas short stories. Apparently I love those. XD)
Do you read shorter fiction much? I don’t always, but seem to have devoured quite a few in the past year (possibly why Goodreads claims I read 123 books in 2018?), and I just had to give a shout-out to some of these gorgeous, charming, or funny ones!
I’ll be back in a couple of days with my top 15 novels I read last year, so stay tuned! Have you read any of these? Thanks for reading! 🙂
I’m here today to share a mini review of one of the short stories in this NEWLY RELEASED anthology of fairytale retellings (and original fairytales) from the Fellowship of Fantasy! It released yesterday; I’m really excited. 😀
And don’t forget to scroll through to the end where there’s a giveaway. 😉
Tagline: Some fairy tales are true. The dangerous ones are partly true.
*cue Deborah O’Carroll’s review*
Short stories are hard to review without spoiling, and I really don’t want to spoil this one because it has an excellent plot twist, but I’ll do my best. 😛
Arthur Daigle is one of my new favorite authors I’ve discovered this year, due to just a couple of short stories in previous Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies. (Those two short stories featured one of my favorite-ever dynamic duos, Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden.)
So I was excited to review this short story! Despite not having said two favorite characters in it, this short story does contain Mr. Daigle’s signature humor, fantastical setting (including monsters), twists, and a snarky main character who stands up for himself, as well as a mischievous goblin.
Nestor is a boy who spends his time keeping the shrine of the Brotherhood of Righteousness clean and reading old manuscripts — and Gibber is a little goblin who loves to annoy him and prank people. Their relationship was fun. XD
Enter some problems in the form of some villains, a lot of hilarious conversations (with snarky lines like: “I would have lost my faith in humanity if I’d ever had it.”) and a plot twist that I started slightly guessing at (and had me going “OOH!”), and it’s overall a delightful original fairy tale type story. 😀
I loved the bits about people not getting fairytales right. XD
This story was a lot of fun, and the setting and humor reminded me of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. It’s slightly scary (just fantasy violence) but awesome overall, and I loved it! I’m excited to read the rest of the stories in this collection, as well as more of Arthur Daigle’s work!
Fantasy that makes me laugh is my favorite, and this absolutely qualifies! ❤
While You’re Here…
Not 100% related to the story I just reviewed, but I’m not going to finish a post featuring Arthur Daigle without mentioning how you can check out the short stories that made me fall in love with his writing.
If you’re curious to read about Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden (since I’ve mentioned them a few times and LOVE THEM SO MUCH. Ahem.) you can find a story each about them in previous Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, Hall of Heroes and Mythical Doorways — which are FREE and have other delightful stories in them as well! (And did I mention free?)
Or if you just want to meet Jayden NOW (I don’t blame you) you can read said short stories on Arthur’s Booksie account here, here, and a NEW ONE that just came out (*shrieking* I’m so excited!) here.
I’m sorry, but I’m also TOTALLY NOT SORRY because Jayden is my fave. 😀
(And I really need to check out this author’s Goblin books someday… I believe all his works take place in the same world. Which is awesome.)
Okay, I’m done derailing this post, now. *cough*
This has been a public service announcement. Carry on.
Check out the rest of the stories in this anthology!
Tales of Ever After
Rescue a princess, meet a mermaid, win your reward.
The authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy tackle fairy tales from once upon a time to happily ever after. Explore twists on old tales and brand new magical stories. Meet feisty mermaids, friendly lampposts, and heroes who just might be monsters themselves.
This fourth anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy will lead you on a quest for entertainment and storm the castle of your imagination. So make a wish and enter the deep dark woods to find stories that will make you laugh, shiver, and maybe even fall in love.
(The ebook should be free most places, and if it’s not yet — say, on Amazon *cough* — it WILL be… soonish… So keep an eye out. Or you can get it for 99 cents which isn’t bad; or buy the paperback because it looks shiny.)
The person who leaves the most comments across the blog tour will receive the chance to read special sneak peaks from several of the authors’ upcoming works!
Do you enjoy funny fantasy too? Have you met Jayden yet? Are you curious to read this story or the rest of the anthology? ISN’T THAT TALES OF EVER AFTER COVER GORGEOUS?? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!