Shadow Blade: Breakfast with Anansi

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book reviews Seressia Glass Shadowchasers 1. Shadow BladeShadow Blade by Seressia Glass

In Shadow Blade, Seressia Glass creates a compelling urban-fantasy heroine, Kira Solomon, and kicks off what promises to be a distinctive kick-butt series.

For me, Shadow Blade got off to a bumpy start. There’s a lot of “telling” and exposition as Glass familiarizes the reader with her world and with Kira’s backstory. We learn that Kira can drain an ordinary human of vitality by touching them, which means she has to keep people at literal arm’s length. It’s a heartbreaking “gift” to have, but it’s mentioned more times than it needs to be. We learn that Kira’s mentor, Bernie Comstock, is like a father to her — and this, too, is repeated several times. Then there are a few random non sequiturs, like a description of the hero’s “honed runner’s build” smack dab in the middle of a sentence and paragraph that otherwise have nothing to do with his physique.

It gets smoother from there, though. Glass immerses the reader in two intertwined plotlines: one externally driven, and one that takes place within Kira’s psyche. The “outer” plot is exciting adventure-story stuff. Comstock gives Kira an ancient Egyptian dagger rumored to possess tremendous occult power. Soon, Kira finds that the dagger is an artifact people would literally kill for. She is pursued by a demonic entity who lusts for the blade’s power, and by Khefar, a millennia-old Nubian warrior, who is the original owner of the dagger and wants it back.

The “inner” story, to me, is even more interesting. Kira has spent most of her life keeping people at a distance, both physically and emotionally. As Shadow Blade progresses, she becomes more trusting and more willing to accept help from her friends and allies. Meanwhile, she is struggling to maintain the balance of Light and Shadow in her soul and stay in the good graces of her patron goddess, Ma’at. Kira’s emotional and spiritual journey takes place alongside her physical battles, and raises the stakes in those battles tremendously.

I also have to commend Seressia Glass for the uniqueness of her mythology. How often do you get to read an urban fantasy based on the Egyptian pantheon, or have breakfast with Anansi the spider-god?

Shadow Blade comes to a satisfying close — no cliffhangers here — but also serves largely to introduce the cast and set the stage for further installments. There are plenty of plot hooks left to explore as the Shadowchasers series continues.

Shadowchasers — (2010-2011) Publisher: Kira Solomon’s life is a delicate balancing act. By day she specializes in identifying and defusing ancient ceremonial magic objects. By night she’s a Shadowchaser — a bounty hunter in service to the Guardians of Light in the eternal struggle against the Shadow of Chaos. She resents her superiors in the Gilead Commission for allowing her previous handler to die, but there aren’t a lot of career choices for a woman who’s unable to touch another living thing without devastating consequences. Then she meets a man she can touch — a 4,000 year-old Nubian warrior. Problem is, she doesn’t know if he’s her salvation or destruction — especially since someone’s turning Atlanta upside down in search of a mystical blade. An Egyptian blade that happens to be four millennia old, sentient, and looking for its master. Kira’s not giving anything up without a fight, and when the gloves comes off, she’s always the last one standing.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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