Saturday, 30 May 2015

Review: Shaedes Of Gray

While I love urban fantasy to the depths of my soul and will read virtually nothing else, I admit that it can be tricky to find a new element to the genre. Monsters have become hugely popular, and while I'll always be the first to jump on a story about vampires, zombies, werewolves, angels, or demons, it's rare to find a book that embraces not only a different being, but manages to turn it into something completely new. Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla is an exciting new take on the Fae, introducing a new race with extremely interesting powers, and putting them in dangerous situations, complex plots, and heart-wrenching betrayals. At the precipice of it all is a tough female lead who refuses to be held back and won't go down without a fight. Definitely a story that all urban fantasy readers will enjoy. Minor spoilers to follow.

Absolutely beautiful, kick ass cover that perfectly fits the novel.

In the shadows of the night, Darian has lived alone for almost a century. Made and abandoned by her former love, Darian is the last of her kind-an immortal Shaede who can slip into darkness as easily as breathing. With no one else to rely on, she has taught herself how to survive, using her unique skills to become a deadly assassin.

When Darian’s next mark turns out to be Xander Peck, King of the Shaede Nation, her whole worldview is thrown into question. Darian begins to wonder if she’s taken on more than her conscience will allow. But a good assassin never leaves a job unfinished…

There's a lot that I loved about this story and it's hard to know where to start. The plot was intricate and detailed, almost every scene serving a purpose and drawing in conspiracies linked to Darian's past. There were unexpected connections between characters that drew my attention, secrets I didn't expect to be drawn into light, and one hell of a twist ending. For most of the novel, I felt what Darian did– confused and frustrated about the secrets other characters kept from her, and genuinely shocked when they were revealed. Being confused and frustrated wasn't a fault of the writing, however. It connected me to the character, indulging in my curiosity and making me want to continue eagerly.

As creatures, I find the Shaedes and their enemies to be incredibly fascinating. Most of them carry the ability to pass through shadows, and the way Bonilla describes this power puts a beautiful visual in my mind. The mystery and history of them gives this book an element of pure fantasy. Even the way they speak is reminiscent of the old world, helping to add to their ethereal, almost godlike nature.

The characters themselves are truly unique. Darian is the leading powerhouse, her brutal past keeping her from ever bowing to anyone. While her stubbornness can make her insufferable at times, it's nice to read about a character who will continue to fight for herself and who isn't afraid to stand up to anyone– even the King of Shaedes. Many of the secondary characters are strong and compelled to help/guard Darian (whether she needs it or not), though none of them is better at this that her Jinn guardian, Tyler. She's his entire world, determined to love her while she battles her own feelings, which makes for some very steamy love scenes and one hell of a shocking ending.

While I love the element of surprise, I wasn't sure about one of the villains. They didn't seem to fit the mold and appeared to be out of the blue almost. Having moved onto the next book, I know better, but I found myself a little confused about their powers and motives at the time. That's just this reader's opinion, however, and I have to admit that the big battle scene at the end made up for any drags I felt.

Bonilla has a great voice in the story, and the action scenes flowed seamlessly. I liked every character– Darian and Tyler especially– and was immensely drawn to the world of the Shaedes and their gifts. I'm definitely happy to continue the series. I would definitely recommend the book to any readers of urban fantasy, though I think pure fantasy readers will find a lot to enjoy here as well. Though this isn't a horror novel by ant stretch, I recommend reading it in the dark. It helps with the atmosphere, making you a little more curious about what runs around in the shadows unseen...


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