When Kaira Winters decided to go to Islington—a boarding school deep in the woods of Michigan—she thought she could finally get away from everything she has tried so hard to forget, including some things from her past that she refuses to believe ever actually happened. Everything seemed great until the bodies of murdered students started appearing all over campus…

Shades of Darkness is the first book in the new Ravenborn Trilogy by A. R. Kahler. While I have his other books on my Amazon wishlist, I’ve never read anything from him, so obviously I was a little nervous picking this up. The premise of a fine art high school, Norse mythology, and mysterious deaths was just too good to pass up though…. So here it goes.

Kaira Winters is our main protagonist and she has sent herself away to Inslington to get away from her past. This year Kaira is a senior and preparing herself for graduation and college, which is just a few short months away… Unfortunately, because of how little tell-tales that Kaira does and the thoughts that flash through her head in certain situations, it’s rather easy to deduce what happened that she was running away from. This kind of made the climax a of her character development in this book a little predictable – but I don’t necessarily mind this, because I still think it was an important aspect of the story moving forward.

There are other characters in the book, such as Ethan and Oliver, which I found totally enjoyable to read. I think overall the dialogue between the overall group of friends is what made the pacing work for me when otherwise it wouldn’t have. That being said, the pacing of this book was pretty slow, but I think the ending made up for it. I didn’t find it slow enough to the point where I wanted to put it down – and in fact, I finished this book in just over a day.

The setting and world of this book is probably what I found most relatable and probably why I feel confident in continuing on with the series. It takes place at a boarding school that focuses on fine art, located in rural Michigan, instead of the heart of some city. Kaira and her friends are in their senior year of Inslington and are months away from graduation. For anyone that has attended a fine art school or program, you know what that means… Senior theses are due. The fact that Kahler was able to come up with not one or two ideas – but several very solid ones impressed me beyond belief.

Overall, I thought this was a decent start to a series that could have a lot of potential. Do I think it had it’s flaws? Definitely. Will I continue to read it? Yes.