‘Ombria in Shadow’ Book Review

Mount Readmore Book Review, 2018 28/200


Ombria in Shadow By Patricia A McKillip

Audiobook Edition

Finished on 2/23/2018



Ombria is a place heaped with history — and secrets. There is a buried city beneath it inhabited by ghosts, accessible only through magical passages and long-forgotten doorways. When the Prince of Ombria dies suddenly, his wicked great-aunt Domina Pearl seizes power by becoming regent to the prince’s young son, Kyel. Minutes after the prince’s death, Domina kicks Lydea, the prince’s longtime mistress, out into the streets to die. But she is saved by a strange girl named Mag, a supposed waxling created by a powerful sorceress who lives underneath the city. With the help of Mag and the prince’s bastard nephew, a strange, silver-eyed man obsessed with drawing, Lydea tries to save Kyel and somehow defeat Domina.

Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, YA, Adult, World Fantasy Award Winner, Mythopoeic Award Winner


Darkness and Light, or a Tale of  Ombria’s Rebirth

Spoiler-ific review

This is probably my favorite book of all time. I’ve read it a half dozen times over the years, and I felt like re-reading it.

McKillip’s use of language is second to none. Not only is her vocabulary expansive (in a good way), but her prose sings off the page. Her language is lyrical, like poetry and prose’s beautiful child.

Her plotting is beautiful, but as ephemeral as the dawn. The plot is like an ice sculpture- cold and hard to begin with, but with time it melts into unexpected shapes and forms. I’ve always thought that McKillip’s plots aren’t her strongest suit, but in Ombria she is at her best.

The setting is filled with palaces, where gold is used to paper over rotting wood and taverns where tavern wenches use their own hair to wash plates. McKillip’s lyrical, folkloric writing style makes her settings STRONG, makes her settings live and breathe.

Highly recommended, if you’re in the mood for a beautiful, befuddling story.

Stay Sunny!





  1. Lovely review! This book sounds wonderful. I’ve been meaning to read more of Patricia A McKillip works, since I really enjoyed Alphabet of Thorn and In the Forests of Serre.


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