Shadow Fall: Needs to trust the reader

fantasy book review Seressia Glass Shadowchasers 3. Shadow Fallfantasy book review Seressia Glass Shadowchasers 3. Shadow FallShadow Fall by Seressia Glass

hadow Fallfinds Kira Solomon back in Atlanta, with new problems on her hands. A new Egypt exhibit has opened at the Georgia World Congress Center, and one of its displays recreates a piece of the Egyptian mythos that, perhaps, shouldn’t be messed with. A young werehyena asks Kira to witness a leadership challenge in that community. And Kira is having disturbing dreams about Set, the god of chaos. Perhaps worst of all, most of her support system is unavailable to her at the moment: Balm is incommunicado, Anansi is out of town, and Wynne and Zoo are becoming more distant from her.

Shadow Fall is paced better than book two, Shadow Chase; important events occur throughout the novel. The Egypt plotline is especially appealing to mythology geeks like me, though the hyena plotline is also interesting. Like Ilona Andrews, Seressia Glass uses real-world hyena matriarchy as a jumping-off point for her werehyena society, yet the two authors use this common element to create two very different cultures. It’s always fun when an author can put a new spin on something. We also learn the identity of Kira’s mother — and it wasn’t who I thought!

My sticking point with the Shadowchasers series continues to be a quirk of Glass’s writing style. There’s a lot of over-explaining and repetition. For example, here’s a quote from page 26:

Khefar could touch her, and she him, without triggering her extrasense. There was no danger of reading his life’s history in every vivid detail; no danger of downloading every thought and emotion from this particular heartbeat all the way back to birth; no danger of draining his life force and leaving him in a coma; nothing to fear, only the exquisite sensations of the heat of his skin, the rough pads of his fingers, the press of his body against hers.

And from page 84:

Kira knew her ability was different, though — a souped-up-on-steroids version. She could read an object and a person with a single touch, essentially downloading their thoughts, emotions, and memories in the ultimate invasion of privacy. That download drained the person she touched, often with fatal consequences if she read too long or too deeply.

Sometimes over-explanations are in the dialogue, resulting in stilted speech. This is from a conversation between Kira and her lover, Khefar:

“No. Gilead’s got sweepers and Special Response Teams on standby. Sanchez herself will be here, since Gilead, under the auspices of its umbrella company, Light International, made a sizable donation to the arts and culture program this benefit showing is for. Like you said, it’ll be all right to forgo being a Shadowchaser for one night.”

In Shadow Fall, perhaps the most belabored topic is Kira’s worry over whether she’s going to be corrupted by her Shadow side. It’s a significant theme of the series, admittedly, but Kira spends tons of page time thinking about it and arguing about it with Khefar. A few hard-hitting scenes on this subject might have been more effective than bringing it up constantly.

However, I liked the advice given to Kira on this front at the end of Shadow Fall, and I hope she takes that advice and carries it into future books. Glass brings original ideas to urban fantasy; the Shadowchasers series just needs a bit less angst and a little more trust in the reader’s memory.

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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