The First of Shadows by Deck Matthews review

The First of Shadows by Deck Matthews

Jen reviews The First of Shadows, the first book in Deck Matthews‘s fantasy series, The Riven Realm.

I won this in a giveaway on Twitter, some months ago…all right, I admit, it was like 72 months ago, geesh.
Thank you kindly to the author Deck Matthews, for the e-copy, and also to Justine of Whispers & Wonder for hosting the always fun @Callofarms contest.

About the Book
Series: The Riven Realm #1Genre: Fantasy
Date of Publishing: January 22, 2019Trigger Warnings: violence, death,
Page count: 143Publisher: self-published
Book Blurb
The First of Shadows by Deck Matthews

How do you kill a shadow?

As a raging storm descends on the Blasted Coast, the crippled young rigger, Caleb Rusk, meets a stranger on the road. Little does he know that the encounter will pull him into a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear—and change the course of his life forever.

Meanwhile, in the Capital of Taralius, a string of inexplicable deaths have captured the attention of the Ember Throne. Second Corporal Avendor Tarcoth is tasked with uncovering the truth behind a danger that could threaten the very fabric of the Realm.

Quote of the Book
Quote Background

“Azental tore into the blackened morass, her talons tearing at the filaments, rending them apart. At the same time, hundreds of bright, new tendrils ripped through the air, twisting and turning toward the chaos. The magic of the agiestone wove its own intricate patterns to fill the void left by Azental’s clawing. They formed complex knots, binding together and growing tighter and tighter around the chaos.”


The First of Shadows marks the start of a series of novellas by Deck Matthews and let me tell you, there is a surprising amount packed into this little story.

So, here’s the quick-and-dirty rundown/review:

There are three POVs.

Caleb – a young man who works as a rigger, crippled from a fever long ago he has mobility issues with his leg. He’s our kind young man whose life is getting ready to have some big changes.

Shem – the mysterious Drifter. Caleb helps him out after finding him injured on the road and finds there is a lot of scary stuff on this guy’s tail.

And Tiberius – a blind Sage, who knows a lot of secrets.

Also, quite a few other characters are introduced and/or mentioned, which was a little bit tough for me at first, but they quickly fell away into smaller groups – making it easier to follow who is important. All POVs were memorable and sparked my interest in ways that made me want to see what happens to them in the next book.

The First of Shadows has a bit of a classic fantasy feel with the group coming together and heading out on the road. I happen to love the ‘gather the band together to fight evil’ trope, so I was all aboard for that.

This is a serialized story and it feels like one, in the way it ends in a stepping-off point – so expect that you will need to continue on to find answers.

I do like how it’s bite-size though. It has the feeling of a big epic fantasy but in an installment size, that is way less daunting, than I sometimes feel when I go to crack open one of those doorstoppers.

The writing is descriptive without going overboard and sets the scenes nicely.

It’s very well-paced; there is a lot of action, mystery, and some genuinely creepy moments with the demon that keeps coming back in different forms.

The world-building and the magic; look to be interesting – we are just tipping the iceberg on some of it but it leaves you feeling like The First of Shadows is the beginning of a very cool journey for these characters.

I am looking forward to seeing where the next installment takes them.

Our Judgement
Let Their Deeds Be Noted - 4 Crowns