Book Reviews

Ryld's Shadows (AURA 4) by Angel Martinez & Bellora Quinn at Pride Publishing

Genre Gay / Urban Fantasy / Elves/Fairies/Sidhe / Magic / Romance
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 20-March-2024

Book Blurb

Ryld must learn to control his dangerous shadows before they kill someone he cares about or someone unscrupulous learns how to control him.

AURA’s offices have been quiet since the mage tower incident—as quiet as they can be for an agency dedicated to policing holes in reality—and the department heads have been free to turn their attention back to mundane matters. The return to quiet bureaucracy gives AURA’s Director of Research, Kai Hiltas, the time to turn his energy to a new issue—a young drow with unusual and dangerous powers named Ryld.


Though his shadows always lurk at the edges of his vision, Ryld does his best to live peacefully and not let them hurt anyone. He has his work, his apartment and a succession of minders assigned by AURA who are, ostensibly, there to keep him safe in his new world and to prevent him from causing any scenes with his shadows. Most of the time, the arrangement works. But one disastrous incident causes Ryld’s minder to leave him unattended and lost—the precise thing he was hired to prevent.


To replace the faithless minder, Kai suggests Hank, a half-goblin accountant recently in the middle of a string of terrible luck, while Kai works out how best to get Ryld the magical training he so desperately needs. For his part, Hank truly likes Ryld and insists he would be happier working as Ryld’s companion rather than as a controlling minder.


As Hank and Ryld slowly come to terms with sharing space—and eventually more—Kai’s search for a teacher for Ryld takes them out west on the invitation of the Elvenhome’s aelfe queen and right into the lap of inter-elven feuds, ancient prejudice, conspiracies and trafficking rings. What should have been a pleasant visit soon turns into more than even forever-scheming Kai can handle.



Reader advisory: This book contains references to past trauma and PTSD, kidnapping and kidnapping of a child.


Book Review

I could barely contain my excitement at returning to this insanely wondrous world created by the combined talents of Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn. I had often wondered whether another installment would be forthcoming as it has been a number of years since the previous release in the ‘AURA’ series, so I was delighted when the authors wrote Ryld and Hank’s story. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews for this series, these books must be read in order, and I’m not going to reiterate the worldbuild or acronyms used as I’ve already covered that information.


Ryld is a drow (dark elf), or more accurately, a drow construct. This means that the court he was born into purposely bred his mother, a slave, to his father because they had certain conditions that might allow for a very powerful drow. It did, in him, but unfortunately as a child he was tortured by them in order to force his power to answer to them. Ryld’s shadows don’t answer to anyone and it takes everything he has to simply keep them from escaping his control and causing damage and death. AURA has assigned minders for Ryld because when something bad happens, his mind checks out, and the shadows wreak havoc. Most of these minders, however, are not nice people and haven’t treated him well.


Hank is a half-human, half-goblin who has worked very hard to become more than what most consider goblins good for. He’s an accountant in a human firm until a new manager decides he doesn’t “fit” their public persona. Instead of going after them for racism, Hank accepts his termination and goes to AURA placement services for help in acquiring another job. In a roundabout way, Hank accepts the job of “companion” for Ryld, understanding him in ways others don’t. Because, you see, Ryld isn’t just powerful, he’s also neurodivergent, so his brain works in a different way than others. Hank seems to recognize how to interpret Ryld’s emotions and needs in a way no one ever has before.


“To help Ryld? Sure. I don’t have a problem with that.” How dangerous could the little guy be? ~ Hank


Ryld tugged at all of my heartstrings in much the same way he pulled at Hank’s. He has no happy memories of other drow, although he has become close to Kai the drow mage in Research & Development at AURA. His childhood was a misery and the shadows terrify him. Hank is, frankly, a teddy bear with tusks, who has dealt with his fair share of racism and hypocrisy from elven kind. The elves are rigid in their social structures and hierarchies with fairies, pixies, goblins, etc. all on the lower rungs and the aelfen at the very top.


The authors took me on another fantastic journey which ended with a mystery thriller involving the Pacific Elvenhome Queen, pixie children, fairies, slavery, and trafficking to humans. It was all very exciting and I was turning the pages faster and faster the closer to the end I neared. The love story is beautiful and sweet, plus I got glimpses of some of my favorite characters. All in all this is another book I shall re-read over and over in enjoyment.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Pride Publishing for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 277 pages/74271 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 08-March-2022
Price $5.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
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