In the Shadow of the Sun

Written by EM Castellan
Review by Meg Wiviott

The court of Louis XIV, King of France, is filled with magic, as expected from the young king who is a magicien. Henriette of England has lived in exile in France since she was two. At seventeen, she makes a political marriage to Louis’s younger brother Prince Philippe, Duke of Orléans, a flamboyant dandy who prefers the company of Armand de Gramont to that of his new wife. To ensure her future, Henriette must navigate her own way through the political intrigues of the royal court. Her mother’s admonition to keep her magical skills as a Source, a font of magic, secret becomes essential when court Sources are murdered and their magic stolen by an unknown dark magicien. When Louis is injured, Henriette is forced to reveal her powers to him. He then requests her help. Despite hesitations, Henriette agrees to help defeat the evil threatening his realm and allows him to use her magic to fulfill his vision to rebuild the Palace of Versailles into something magical.

Brava! An impressive debut novel that hooked me within the first few pages. Using only historical characters, save one, Castellan creates a fast-paced story of loyalty, love, intrigue, innuendo, magic, and murder. She seamlessly builds a magical world onto one that is already well-documented, giving historical events a new, fun twist. All the characters, particularly Henriette, Philippe, and Armand have depth, making them understandable and relatable. The magic is sparsely described but creates rich details. The dialogue is witty and sharp. Written for readers ages 12 and up. Personally, I’d love to see a sequel.