The newest addition (released June 2, 2016) to the Psy/Changeling books by Nalini Singh, Shards of Hope, begins the new series arc and won’t disappoint. It’s an especially satisfying read for diehard fans who will love the glimpses into many favorite past characters. However, if you’re new to Ms. Singh’s series, I recommend starting at the beginning with Slave to Sensation. While Shards of Hope is a complete story in and of itself, there are so many returning characters and plotlines that you may find yourself lost or confused unnecessarily.
After 14 books, Ms. Singh has created an exceptional and entertaining universe. The fact that the world hasn’t become dull but has only grown more complex is a testament to her writing skills. In Shards of Hope, the universe is more important than ever. The story begins soon after Vasic’s ends and deals with a brand new world where Silence is dead and now that the imminent threat of annihilation has been stopped, it’s time to rebuild. This is a very different setting for the Psy/Changeling world and perfect for Aden, the hero of Shards of Hope.
For those who have enjoyed the series for years, Aden’s book was a long time coming. Aden is the fearless and compassionate leader of the Arrows, and his HEA is well-deserved. Unlike other Psy alpha males from past books, Aden isn’t an emotionless robot who has to learn to love. Instead, Aden is a Psy who has always felt too much and has taken on too many burdens and in Shards of Hope he is given a partner to help him bear under the weight of his responsibility. There is no better heroine for Aden than his fellow Arrow, Zaira.
Zaira is reminiscent of Sienna. She is a powerful Psy with a very dark and hurtful past. Unlike Aden, who holds an unbearable weight of expectation, Zaira’s fight focuses on her internal demons. Zaira has a heart-breaking past—no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Similar to Kaleb, she is a broken individual who needs Aden to heal and come to terms with her strengths and her weaknesses. You can’t help but love Zaira as her past is revealed, and your love for her will only grow as you experience her love for Aden.
Together, Aden and Zaira are an excellent couple. The right amount of tension keeps them apart, while their mutual respect, admiration, and need for each other continually draws them together. However, the reason Shards of Hope received 4 stars instead of the usual 4.5 – 5 stars, is because the scope of the story is just so large that the relationship is lost at times.
Throughout the story, the reader is given glimpses into countless past characters from Hawke to Lucas to Mercy to Max to Dev and Kaleb. In fact, it felt like Ms. Singh provided a glimpse of almost every character within the pages of Shards of Hope. While, as a big fan of the series, I love seeing past characters, it did make the story exhausting. There are so many different small plot lines that happen in the background that it occasionally felt like every other scene was with a new character. It made me miss the simplicity of Kiss of Snow or even Heart of Obsidian where the love story was the main attraction.
However, I can’t deny that the large scope of the story makes sense. Shards of Hope is clearly a farewell and a coming out all at once. The world has changed so drastically from books 1 – 13 that now it’s time for new stories, new characters, no plotlines, and new enemies. Aden and Zaira’s story sets up this new arc, and it was interesting to imagine where Ms. Singh will take us next. Black Sea, the water changelings, have played an almost non-existent role up until this book, but clearly that will not be the case moving forward.
Overall, Shards of Hope is a great “in between” novel. It tried to accomplish too much, which is why it receives a 4.0 instead of 4.5 rating, but it’s an enjoyable read and easy to recommend to any series’ fan. I stayed up until 2:00am on the night of release to finish reading so I can’t really find fault in the compelling nature of the story. The biggest recommendation I can make is the fact that after 14 books, I am still not bored. In fact, I still look forward to every release with the patience of a five-year-old on Christmas morning.