Fae shifter knights (Zoe Chant)

Back at the beginning of the pandemic, someone shared a link to a blog post from Zoe Chant, who -- because we were all suddenly in lockdown and dealing with extra stress -- offered a free e-book of hers to anyone who asked. I asked, she described a few options, and I chose Dragon of Glass, the first book in what would be the Fae Shifter Knights series. I loved it and got each of the following books as they came out. The fourth and final book just came out a few weeks ago, so I'm finally getting around to writing about them.

As implied by "fae", the knights (one per book) are from another world or realm. They're transported, one at a time, into modern-day Earth, and have to learn about magical cooling boxes and lights without flames and smartphones and television -- and social conventions. I enjoyed the fish-out-of-water aspect, laughing not infrequently. It would be easy for this to be overdone, but it's not.

The knights were one fighting band on the other side, where their world fell to evil magical beings. Somehow, during their final battle, they were frozen in glass and sent into our world. (That's explained, but it would be a spoiler.) Each knight has a corresponding person in our world, a "key", who can help unlock that knight's magic (which is greatly diminished in our world). Each of the four books focuses on one of the knights while contributing to the overall story. When I started reading Dragon of Glass I thought I was getting some light-hearted fluff, but there's more depth to the series and I found the larger story engaging.

As implied by "shifter", each knight has an alternate, magical form -- dragon, unicorn, gryphon, firebird. (When they were frozen in glass, it was in those forms, at the size of tree ornaments. The set got broken up; part of the quest for the knights and keys already here is to find the other ornaments.)

Aside: There is a whole genre of "shifter romance" that I was largely unaware of two years ago. These books, and many of Zoe Chant's other books, are in this genre. There are definitely romantic elements (and some sex scenes), but as someone who's not really into romances, I didn't find it overdone or intrusive. It was just part of the story -- not the reason for the story like (as I understand it) with some mainstream romances.

The knights have a leader and mentor, a "fable" -- not a fairy, as the character keeps insisting. (At a foot tall and with wings, you can understand the confusion.) As a reader I had more trouble connecting with this character than with the knights and keys, though the fable does get some funny, snarky lines. (Part of my problem is a personal one: the number mismatch of singular "they" trips me up as a reader, every time, even when I know who the referent is. My brain treats it as a runtime exception or something. I've tried to overcome it, but have not yet succeeded.)

The final book, Firebird of Glass, was heavier than the others (as was the end of the third book). The series has been building toward a final confrontation (the forces that took over the knights' world want ours too), and at times the book is sombre and grim. When I started the book I had predictions, expectations, of how this final confrontation was going to end; partway through the book I developed different predictions -- and in the end the author surprised me with something I never saw coming but that felt right.

I enjoyed the series, and I think some of my readers would, too.