Nightshade was one of the very first ARCs I ever got. I picked it up at Comic Con 2010 and read it soon afterwards. It was one of my very first reviews here on the sight. But between reading the first one, and the publication of the second one, Wolfsbane, I came to hate love triangles. Even when I read it I was rather over the love triangle…and then there just kept being more and more of them.

To this day, two years later, YA is still overrun with love triangles.

So, anyway, I didn’t read the second one because I decided I’d wait until the third one was out and someone could tell me who Calla ends up with and then I could make an informed decision about whether I wanted to continue or not. Then I heard other worrying things about the end. So, I just said NO. I had PLENTY else to read. I wasn’t going to miss it.

Fast Forward a couple months and Michelle, tells me I simply must read Rift by Andrea Cremer. She said I would absolutely love it and I didn’t need to have read the Nightshade Trilogy to understand anything.

So, I read it, and as I said in this review, loved it more than I thought possible. And recently when I read and reviewed Rise, Rift’s sequel, I was overcome with the need to see how it would all end. So, I picked up Nightshade again and through a combination reading/listening to the audiobook, sped through the original trilogy.

Note on the audiobooks. Both the narrator for Nightshade, Wolfsbane and Bloodrose and the narrator for Rift (I haven’t listened to Rise yet) are fabulous. They fit the characters and the story so well. I was a LITTLE disappointed that I wouldn’t get to hear a male scottish voice for Barrow, but I got over that. All four books were really, really good audiobooks.

Now, what I loved about the Nightshade trilogy was how it was really about a young woman who wanted nothing more than to be in charge of her own destiny, in charge of her own life, yet had been raised to be a slave and to not recognize that she was one.

Calla’s slow realization in the first book is…a little frustrating from a readers point of view, and Shay’s point of view I think, but ultimately rewarding as she realizes she does have choices. She is powerful. And I like how that realization transforms into her having to take action in the subsequent books. It isn’t just, “oh hey, I’m powerful.” and then BOOM she knows what to do. It’s a struggle for Calla to become what she was always meant to be.

Now, lets talk about Shay. And how perfect every word that came from his mouth was. I was always on Team Shay from the very beginning. As much as I understand the appeal of Ren and even sometimes understood how he and Calla would be good together, I liked Shay better because he always treated Calla like a partner. They solved mysteries together, he encouraged her to see her world for how it really was, for the slave her masters were forcing her to be. Shay wanted answers about himself and what was going on but he also wanted Calla, and the rest of her pack, to be free.

I loved that Shay was very much a leader, an alpha, but that he enjoyed it when Calla took charge and he understood that she just as much an alpha as he was. And possibly a better leader. Also, he was just plain cute.

Ren I felt, as much as he wanted to change and be a good person and absolutely was on his way to it at the end of Bloodrose, well, his mind was just too much in the former way of life. I don’t think he made as good a leader as Calla or Shay did. I do think, had things turned out differently with a certain character at the end of Wolfsbane, then Ren might have changed all the faster. I was glad that he got to see the other way of life in Bloodrose. I’ll always wonder what could’ve been if things had been different.

Also, also, also! I love the supporting cast in these books. I love all the young wolves, and all the Searchers. Every single one of them had a story and character depth and it was awesome. I was just as in love with a lot of the supporting cast as I was with Calla and Shay. I loved Ansel and Bryn and Adne and Connor. I wish we could have another series of books about Adne and Connor. LOVE.

I do think the situation with Ansel and Sabine was a little convenient but other than that, I was perfectly happy with the ending. Well…not perfectly…but…I liked that it wasn’t a PERFECT ending. There was a good amount of loss to balance out the happy so it didn’t feel trite. And I liked the last moment with…well, with the Searchers.

I do have some unanswered question but they all come from reading Rift/Rise and the short story, Aftermath. If I hadn’t read the other stories I wouldn’t have unanswered questions at all but as I did, I simply NEED to know. What happens to Agnes? What was the point of including her storyline if…well, spoilers…things. BUT WHAT BECOMES OF HER PROGENY???

And basically everything that happened in Aftermath. What’s going on with Adne? And what was up with the wolf she saw at the end???

Maybe these things will be addressed in the adult novels that are going to be published? I had been under the impression that the adult novels weren’t so much about the plot…but I don’t know. I guess we will find out.

In the meantime, these books are fun with good characters and awesome storytelling, and just enough intense themes to make them not completely fluffy, fantasy, adventure, romance…though there’s plenty of all that as well.

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