Book Reviews

Idriel’s Children

Reaping darkness, the Shadow slicked steel with judgment and danced with death… Sixteen-year-old Aza inherited the power of shadow to rid the land of evil as Odriel’s cold-blooded assassin. With her growing strength, Aza discovers the Shadow Plain—a realm of wraiths where screams haunt the winds, calling to her. Although her father forbids her from entering the dark realm, Aza can’t ignore the beckoning whispers. When a dangerous new breed of monster attacks, Aza believes the Shadow Plane holds the answers they need to defeat them. With the unwanted help of a snarky cat and a cursed beast, Aza seeks out the monastic Wraith-Called for answers. But the deeper Aza delves into the dark realm, the further she drifts from the world she knows. As Aza uncovers evils new and old, she must decide if the ends really do justify the means… and how many lives she’s willing to pay.

It’s always a wonderful delight when a sequel manages to truly surprise me. When it takes the core idea behind the original work and twists it, shaping it into something unexpected. Idriel’s Children, the sequel to Hayley Reese Chow’s Odriel’s Heirs (click here to read my review), which also follows the novella, Burning Shadows (you can click here for that review), is one such sequel. Not only has the author created something unexpected, she has improved upon what came before in just about every way.

Instead of continuing the adventures of Dragon Heir, Kaia, and Shadow Heir, Klaus, Idriel’s Children jumps twenty-eight years into the future. Their children, eighteen-year-old Zephyr and sixteen-year-old Aza, have inherited their parents’ respective dragon and shadow powers. As Odriel’s Heirs before it followed a teenage girl, so too does Idriel’s Children, as it focuses on Aza’s story. However, Aza’s story is a very different one to her mother’s, and being the Shadow Heir poses a completely different set of problems to being the Dragon Heir.

While part of me is inclined to say that the book featuring a teenage girl as its protagonist is where its similarities to the original book end, that would be a gross misnomer. Idriel’s Children is still a high fantasy tale; it is still a young adult book, with a target audience between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. It is once again a coming of age tale where its lead character has to grow into themselves while working to defeat the enemy. On the surface level, Idriel’s Children doesn’t feel as big as its predecessor. However, the stakes are as high as they ever were, while it tells a more intimate story. A story that is darker, a story where loss feels even more personal than it did the first time around, a story that is all the more resonant. And as it tells this story, it expands the canvas far beyond what came before.

The Odriel’s Heirs (if you haven’t read my previous reviews, this is also the overarching series title) setting of Okarria was already beautifully set out in the previous novel and novella; a rich and vibrant fantasy world filled with strange creatures and wonderful magic. Early in Idriel’s Children, it becomes apparent that Chow is intent on exploring this world further, with unexplored facets coming to the fore. And that’s only within the physical realm. Aza must also contend with the Shadow Plane, which both literally and figuratively adds a new dimension to Okarria. The introduction of this plane of existence deepens Okarria’s lore in new and interesting ways.

Idriel’s Children sees Aza and her companions with the titular Idriel’s children, spawn of the first book’s dark god, responsible for necromancy and the undead Lost. As she traverses both the physical world and the Shadow Plane, she must find a way of stopping them and saving those she holds dear. To provide more detail would risk spoiling the story and its various twists and turns. The story weaved throughout this novel is difficult to predict, and it builds up in a layered way, with its various elements weaving together to form an engrossing tale. At 201 pages in paperback (estimated at 203 on Kindle, or seven hours and fifty-six minutes for those of you who prefer to listen to an audiobook), it is marginally longer than its predecessor, but does so much more with its page count.

The book features a larger cast of characters than its predecessors, both new characters, and appearances from old favourites from the first book, including even Shad, the talking cat, a character who never ceases to amuse. Fans of Odriel’s Heirs will be delighted to see Kaia and Klaus return, even if their roles in the book are fairly minor. Likewise, where its predecessor focused on both the Dragon and Shadow Heirs, the new Dragon Heir, Zephyr, only has a fairly minor role to play. Aza is joined on her quest by an old friend, Witt, along with Makeo, whose family curse has seen him transformed into a beastly Maldibore. Also in prominent roles are Aza’s mentor in the Shadow Plane, the mysterious Seela, as well as the titular Idriel’s children. All these characters are beautifully defined, and thoroughly entertaining to follow, regardless of if you love them, hate them, or fall somewhere in between with more complex thoughts. Despite the strength of these characters, the true star is Aza, who serves as the point of view character. It is through her eyes that the reader sees the heart of the story. Aza is headstrong and rash, yet delightful to follow.

In my review of Odriel’s Heirs, I commented that the style of Chow’s prose may prove to be a little difficult for younger readers to follow. In my review of Burning Shadows, I found this issue to be rectified. Idriel’s Children’s prose is closer to the novella than the original novel. The prose still stands out beautifully, drawing the reader into the world. It is less metaphorical than the original novel, and should be easier for younger readers to digest without losing any of the wonder that the first book presented. Words aren’t wasted, with each one adding to the novel’s tapestry.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, Idriel’s Children is a sequel to Odriel’s Heirs, and the second novel in the series. Unlike the novellas, this isn’t mentioned on the cover, but it’s noted on Amazon’s listing. While part of a series, it stands perfectly alone, and new readers can pick it up and enjoy the story without having read what came before. While the story will continue, readers won’t be left feeling like they got part of a story. I’d certainly recommend reading the earlier books first, but that’s because they’re wonderful books, rather than pivotal to your enjoyment of this one.

Idriel’s Children is a brilliant achievement. If you enjoy fantasy stories, or young adult fiction, you will find so much to love here. It’s set in a deep fantasy world, with pitch perfect world building, fantastic characters, and raw emotion. This book simply works on every level. With two books to go, I’m looking forward to seeing where the author takes this world. The title for the third novel, Time’s Orphan, is particularly ominous to anyone familiar with Okarria.

Favourite Passage

Aza’s shock only lasted a single heartbeat, her parents flashing before her eyes as she deepened the shadows around herself. The euphoric surge of the crossing flooded her mind, submerging her senses in its familiar, tantalizing power. Breathing deep, she opened her eyes in the gray fields of the Shadow Plane. Her head whipped around, but the Somisadas woman was the only person there. No parents, no shadow dwellers, and no wind whispering her name.

Idriel’s Children, Chapter Thirteen: “Wraith-Called”

Idriel’s Children was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.

Idriel’s Children is available in paperback, on Kindle, and on Audible, exclusive to Amazon).

You can follow Hayley Reese Chow online, via:

Note: I do not post scores on reviews on this website, but do post them on my Amazon and Goodreads reviews:

Interested in purchasing Idriel’s Children?

Please find a link below; please note I do not collect any proceeds from the sale.

Idriel’s Children (Odriel’s Heirs Book 2)

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