• Cloaked in Shadow

  • Dragori Series, Book 1
  • By: Ben Alderson
  • Narrated by: Shaun Grindell
  • Length: 9 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (143 ratings)

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Cloaked in Shadow  By  cover art

Cloaked in Shadow

By: Ben Alderson
Narrated by: Shaun Grindell
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Publisher's Summary

Zacriah Trovirn is concerned with two things in life: hunting and dodging Petrer, the boy who broke his heart. 

Heartbreak becomes a distant concern when Zacriah is taken to the Elven capital of Thessolina, where he is forced into King Dalior's new legion of shapeshifters. But Zacriah isn't a shapeshifter. In truth, he doesn't know what he is. 

Zacriah joins forces with new friends and they soon find themselves embroiled in a clash between the three Elven continents. With war on the horizon, Zacriah must learn to use his latent power to fight and protect those he loves before they are destroyed.

©2017 Ben Alderson (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about Cloaked in Shadow

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A surprisingly good story but narration suffers.

This was my first foray into the realm of fantasy mixed with same-sex romance. What I expected was a decent story that was basically life support for a bit of male romance. What I got was a surprisingly engaging story that had me always listening "just a few more minutes" that just happens to include the kind of romantic entanglements you might find in many fantasy novels, just with an LGBTQ+ spin on it. The biggest problem I have with the audiobook version is the narrator suffers from Shatner-itis. That is to say, his pacing and emphasis on the middle and end of every sentence sounds very much like a parody of William Shatner's hammy acting. The thing is, he doesn't do this when he's reading dialogue so I'm not sure why he does it during the narration. Once you map out his patterning where he places emphasis right at the middle and end of every sentence, you can't unhear it. But, audiobooks are one of the best ways for me to take in some leisurely reading since my actual book reading is often for professional reasons. The narration isn't SO bad that it ruins the experience but it is enough to pull one star from the overall rating. All in all, it's a really engaging story and the flirtations between characters are delightfully adorable. If you're looking for a fantasy tale that includes male same-sex romance, definitely give this one a try.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

saw the author on tic tok and was not disappointed

I loved this book so much, i just wish we got more development between the two MC's. cant wait to see what happens in book 2!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Bad writing

I read this book purely for the gay fantasy element. It had a lot of potential, and I follow the author on TikTok. I think it had a lot of potential, but this book wasn't very well written. there was a lot of tropes, plot holes, and missed opportunities for descriptive content.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

So fun!

Very fun and easy to fall into. I read another review that said the narrator sounded like William Shatner and wow I cannot unhear it. It wasn’t as noticeable in the second half and didn’t hinder my enjoyment that much.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I wanted to love this so much ... but couldn't.

I decided to try this series after discovering this author on tic-toc. I love the concept. I love the magic system, I love the way he makes LGBT romance feel "Normal". Unfortunately with all that going for it I could not get into this series. I bought all 3 books and managed to get half way through book 2 before giving up.
I think it was a mixture of a few things.
1) The Narrator, I think took away from this book. I agree with another persons review in saying he sounded like William Shatner from StarTrack. And not in a good way. Each sentence started too strong as if he was doing a dramatic reading of a children's book. It really distracted from building bonds with the characters.
2) The clichés. I felt that I could tell what was going to happen around every corner the entire way through the book. I physically eye rolled at some points. It started to get better in book two so I am hoping this was just book 1 gitters for the author.
3) The 2 dimensional feel and sudden dramatic personality changes in side characters. If you have read the book I feel I have said enough. Just look at Peter's Character for example.

Overall I am sad that I couldn't get into this series. I will give the author another chance as I did really like his normalization of the LGBT romance. I will be waiting for a different Narrator though.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Performance kills the whole thing

The narration on this is staccato, stresses the wrong words, and develops an irritating rhythm that kills the process. I could not listen to this for more than half an hour.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Slow start but worth the wait

This story started slow, and I won’t lie I almost stopped it many times. However by chapter 10 I was hooked. The overall story building and world sucked me and now I’m currently checking out the other two in the series.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Made a 10 hour road trip feel like 3

I loved this audio book so much!! I was on a 10 hour road trip back home after camping for a week and honestly the trip went by so fast because I was getting sucked in to this story. Definitely going to be getting the other books in the series

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

very good read

loved the characters, especially main. Petrer confused me a bit. He seemed very protective and kind, though we knew he did something to hurt Zachriah from the start. but he became quite horrid. guess it does happen though.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-20-22

The story was just soo bland and borning

I was really hoping I was going to like this book however It was just bland and I had to have the speed of 2.90 just to finish it... the narration probably didn't help things either.

The dialogue is one of the things I struggle with most as it felt Stiff in many places. The humour fell flat for me not only that, Zac delivers what are supposed to be ‘sick burns’ at a few points, which I just found uncomfortable to listen to. There was also a weird mix of formal ‘old- fashioned english’ intertwined with moden slang which was so jarring as it felt so out of place. Which made the dialogue as a whole just seem really off to me, mainly because it didn't feel authentic. It was as if Ben had completely forgotten what a real conversation between people sounds like, and then just mashed a whole bunch of words together and assigned them to different characters at random so none of the characters had any different traits or personalities as they all just morthed into one.

All the conversations that happened in this story just didn't flow naturally. It feels like watching children in a school play rehearse their lines which they have written themselves.

The first few chapters were agonizingly slow. As Zacriah was literally just sitting in a wagon observing everyone around him for two chapters. However, I was willing to push through as I know it is quite hard to start off a story, and I thought that it would pick up in just a bit however to me dismay it didn't.

The characters were so bland. The main character, Zac just didn’t have enough personality for me. We’re meant to be rooting for this guy but he's nothing special. Zac actions are not those of a protagonist, but rather those of a side character whose every movement is little more than a way to progress the plot. Honestly, I get that the writer wants their character to be relatable and realistic, but it just flopped so hard. Usually you care and want to be the best for the main character but I honestly couldn't care what happened to any of the characters whatsoever.

Hadrian is a stereotypical Prince as he's a typical prince trope, he's handsome, 'snarky' , full of sexual innuendos, and ready to sweep the protagonist off his feet and obviously it's love at first sight. He's another character that you don't know anything about besides the fact that he's a Dragori, a prince and he cares for Zac and the fact his mother died.

However because of the dialogue the snarky' funny prince didn't come across that way at all as Hadrian's supposedly snarky attitude never came through was because Ben doesn't write dialogue with adverbs to express the emotion with which a line was said, so many of the sexual innuendos and jokes just ended up falling flat. For instance when Zac is describing a book as 'huge'. Zac's literal quote is "It's huge" which then the prince proceeds to respond with "That's not the first time I heard that... Oh you meant the book". I never rolled my eyes so hard at such a stupid reponce or attempt of flirting (?)


He instantly falls for Zac for reasons unbeknownst to me as Zac has no noticeable characteristics or charming traits. Other than the fact that he did not shift as he consumed something that is supposed to knock you out if you aren't a shifter but it didn't affect him even when he informs them he can shift they don't know why the position didn't take affect , what was so remarkable about him that made Hadrian oh so desperate to spend time with him? Literally that main factor for the prince to be so entranced by Zac is his looks alone. And possibly the fact that he's a Dragori just seemed to work as a plot device to drive he and Zac together, something that they could bond over (though they hardly did).

Don't even get started on Zac's and Peter's relationship. There was literally no need. For whatever reason Peter is under the impression they are still together when it's clear that Zac isn't interested in what he is acting towards him.

Later on we find out that even though Zac knew that Peter cheated on him, Zac never told Peter that he knew. But even when Zac finally comforts him nothing happens. What was the point?