Review: Shadow and Ice by Gena Showalter

Reviewed by Sara

Several years ago I was a pretty huge fan of Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld (LOTU) series. I eventually fell away from the series and haven’t read anything from Showalter since. When I saw that she was beginning a new series unrelated to LOTU, I was excited to see what she was writing and how it would differ from her previous work.

Shadow and Ice, the debut novel in Showalter’s Gods of War series follows the adventures of Knox and Vale. On a disastrous trip abroad, Vale and her sister Nola come across what looks like a group of otherworldly warriors frozen in blocks of ice. Little do they know that the immortal warriors have been frozen for centuries and are part of an interstellar, winner takes all battle for the ownership of Earth. Believing that they’ve come across a movie set, they’re surprised when the warriors burst into life. Things soon spiral out of control and Vale is taken by Knox and Nola by the warrior Zion. Fearful for her sister who suffers from debilitating fibromyalgia, Vale makes a deal with Knox to help him in exchange for assistance getting her sister back.

Knox is a slave to his world’s cruel king and has competed and won four previous All Wars. Due to his enslavement, the competitive nature of the All War and his grief at the loss of his daughter, he doesn’t expect his intense attraction to Vale and struggles to trust her. That trust is further shaken when Vale, in an act of self-defense kills another All War competitor and takes the warriors place in the All War as an immortal warrior herself. There can only be one winner and Knox will have to decide between his freedom, long made plans to destroy his king, and his new and his confusing love of the beautiful and wily Vale.

All morning I’ve been trying to find a way to convey how I felt about this book and the most eloquent way I’ve come up with is, “Meh.” There are things I liked about it and things that made it a chore to get through. Gena Showalter is, in my opinion, good at world building and it’s this epic world building and the premise the All War that are exciting. On the other hand, this may be because it’s the debut novel of a series, Shadow and Ice gets bogged down in too much detail and minutia. There are over 25 warriors when the book begins and each comes from a distinct home world and has a special weapon. This is a lot of information to keep up with, so much so that there’s a appendix type thing in the back of the book with information on each warrior. However, when fast, action-packed battles are happening, and they happen a lot,  I don’t want to be checking the back of the book for who’s fighting who with what. It was overwhelming.

Shadow and Ice has a lot of elements that I really like. Knox is a tortured hero and a fish out of water, there’s forced proximity, kind of an enemies to lovers element and Vale is a strong, kick ass heroine, but I found that issues with pacing made it difficult to enjoy these elements. Over and over, Knox and Vale, whose childhood was spent in the foster care system, struggle with trust. As I mentioned previously, I like a tortured hero, so I understand that resolving issues of trust will be a big part of this story, but I found that they were constantly brought up, over and over again to the point that I wanted to smack Knox on the head and tell him to get over it already.

The other pacing issue I had was with Knox and Vale’s sexual encounters. Lest you think I’m complaining about the amount of sex, it’s not that. My issues was the placement of sex scenes. They didn’t always feel organic or like they made sense with what was happening in the rest of the book. Almost as if the author closed her eyes, opened her manuscript to a random spot, stuck her finger on the text and said, “I think Knox and Vale should bang here!”

For me, Shadow and Ice had both positive and problematic elements. Die-hard fans of Gena Showalter will likely enjoy the debut book in her Gods of War series, but for me it was just ok.

Rating: C

*ARC received by publisher for honest review

Click to purchase: Amazon

Shadow and Ice
by Gena Showalter
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: HQN


  1. I’m a die hard Gena fan, but the 25 warriors worries me. I hope I can get through without having to remember all of them while reading. I’m anxious to see what this world holds. This is next on my TBR.

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