The Shadow’s Curse by Amy McCulloch is the second and final book in her Knots Sequence duology and follows on from Oathbreaker’s Shadow. I received a free copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review. I have previously reviewed the first in the series – check out my review here.
The novel takes up where we left off in the earlier book with Raim seeking to learn the history of his mysterious broken vow as well as to rescue his friend Wadi. It has been a while since I read Oathbreaker’s Shadow and for a couple of pages I was a little confused. However, McCulloch quickly and skillfully recapped the main points so that I was soon up to speed.
What I liked
Tight narrative structure. The Shadow’s Curse switches between two points of view, Raim’s and Wadi’s, following two converging main storylines. Wadi’s storyline also serves to present the main antagonist’s, Kareh’s, story. This works well to create tension for the inevitable confrontation when these paths come together. Both Raim and Wadi are working towards specific goals. In Raim’s case, this aim is explicitly stated early on – to rid himself of his oathbreaker stigma – whereas Wadi’s purpose is not revealed until later. This structure keeps the novel’s pace moving along briskly and creates good narrative tension,
Payoff from book one. Oathbreaker’s Shadow had left me a little frustrated that there had been so little payoff for the setup. This is remedied in The Shadow’s Curse in which the central premise of Raim’s broken vow is explored in much more satisfying depth. For this reason I would suggest that you read both as one long story.
The worldbuilding. I really enjoyed the world that McCulloch created with the taboo around oathbreaking and the haunts. In The Shadow’s Curse this is explored in greater depth as Raim and Draikh learn to work together. We also explore new parts of this world which was interesting too. The contrast between the nomadic North and the more settled South was intriguing.
What I didn’t like
Bland characters. I continued to be far more invested in the world in which the characters find themselves rather than in the characters themselves. For me though, the interesting world more than balanced this out.
I thought The Shadow’s Curse was a solid end to the Knots Sequence duology and I gave it four stars out of five.