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Review: The Oathbreaker's Shadow / Author: Amy McCulloch / Publisher: Doubleday Childrens / Release Date: June 6th

Welcome to a new fantasy world, one where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise, and you are marked for life, forever outcast; forever known as an Oathbreaker. Raim is about to enter adulthood and has the world at his feet, preparing himself to join the Yun, elite warriors who serve the Khan. His best friend Khareh is heir to the Khanate, but when Raim swears his life to him, the knot he has worn since he was found as a baby bursts into flames, searing a scar into his skin. With his life turned upside down, Raim is left with no choice but to run from all he holds dear.

So begins Amy McCulloch’s debut novel, The Oathbreaker’s Shadow. What follows is a smart and fast-paced story, one pitched perfectly for its intended Young Adult audience. Older adults may like it too; although the plot is relatively simple, the characters are engaging and their relationships believable. The story does contain its twists and, while some can be seen coming, others take the reader by surprise, spinning the story into an unseen direction.

The author writes with a confidence and clarity of prose that means the book isn’t bogged down with description, allowing the action to flow and the characters to develop at a quick rate. Sometimes, that’s too quick; there can be moments when a pause would have made a scene more poignant, but instead it can feel rushed, as though the writer was impatient to move on.

That’s a small complaint, though. The Oathbreaker’s Shadow is an assured debut from a writer who’s going to be one to watch. Amy McCulloch has created a fantasy world that doesn’t seem too far from our own, one that ensures disbelief doesn’t have to be suspended too much, allowing the reader to concentrate on reading an inventive and exciting story. A splendid book, one that has this not-so-young adult looking forward to the next instalment.

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