Author: Laura Sebastian
Narrators: Ell Potter
Audiobook Length: 17 hours 22 minutes
Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come–for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future.
On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends–countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.
When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.
As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate–and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.
Half Sick of Shadows tells the story about Elaine of Astalot (Elaine of Shalott) and is a retelling of the Arthurian tales. She is an oracle who has spent time on Avalon to learn magic where the cast of characters, Gwen, Arthur, Morgana, and Lancelot come together for their quest to make Arthur king. While the novel takes a lot of inspiration from the original material, the author creates a unique tale that does not fully align with the source. It would not be apt then to compare the two and, instead, have the story standalone in a way for the main character. Now for the main story, it is very clear that the author has researched the source material and makes it apparent from the beginning of everything will end for some of the characters.
Although the story keeps the focus on Elaine’s perspective, it also follows the stories of Arthur, Gwen, Morgana, and Lancelot. There are the subplots of the dynamics of their friendships and even two romances with Gwen and Arthur and Elaine and Lancelot. I love romances in stories, but it was difficult to fully connect to either romance as there was a lot going on in each relationship, especially Elaine and Lancelot. Her inner dialogue and conflict about the relationship created so much doubt in the romance that I eventually gave up being invested and did not mind how it ended one way or another. The characters themselves are very interesting and I liked how they evolved throughout the story. I wish that more time was spent on the reader getting to know them as there are multiple instances of telling the reader their characteristics rather than showing.
The story’s timeline can be difficult to follow, as there are three within the novel: the main present day tale, the multiple flashback sequences, and the multiple visions Elaine has of the future. As I listened to the audiobook, I do not know how the story is formatted in the print version. By listening to the story, it was very confusing at times to fully follow what timeline we were in during some parts of the story. There are some key terms that let the reader know it will be a transition to the past or present, but if you miss the wording, then it takes a moment to fully comprehend the situation. Even though it was difficult to follow at times, I greatly enjoyed the future visions as it was interesting how the events would change based on the decisions they made in the present. I connected less to the past portions and, for me; I would rather have left these parts out of the story and focused more on the present and future, with a larger emphasis on the present.
Overall, I honestly do not fully know how I feel about the story as a whole. It was neither good nor bad and instead was just okay, for me. I think one day I will re-read it and maybe I will feel one way or another, but, for now, I am just middle ground. The writing was well done as the general style was very enjoyable and I would read more from the author. This novel was very ambitious as there is a lot of content with both the plot and characters. At times, it read similar to an upper YA novel compared to an adult. The one thing that made this more adult is that the characters are older than the typical YA characters. The ending itself is semi-abrupt for those not as familiar with the source material, so I think it would have appealed to a larger audience by expanding on it a little. I would recommend this novel to others as it is a fascinating tale and I have added it to my re-read list, again, as I want to try the print version to see how my opinion on the story alters.