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I Belong


Early Review: Shadows of Fate by Angela Dennis

Shadows of FateTitle: Shadows of Fate

Author: Angela Dennis

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Shadow Born (Book #1)

Publication Date: April 8, 2014

Format: eBook, 243 Pages

ISBN-10: 1619219271 (Samhain)

ISBN-13: 978-1619219274 (Samhain)

Reviewed by: Kelly

Synopsis

After witnessing her husband’s brutal murder, Brenna Baudouin lost control of her Shadow Bearer powers and wreaked havoc on her home world. Her penance: one hundred years policing hordes of supernatural misfits that spilled onto the Earthly plane after a cataclysmic war.

She’s on a routine exorcism run when she learns she’s been assigned a new partner. But there’s something about this Shadow Bearer that sparks her suspicions. Particularly when people closest to her start turning up as piles of ash.

Gray Warlow holds tight to the glamour that allows him to get close to the woman on whom he plans to wreak vengeance for betraying his people. Yet as he skillfully manipulates his way past her distrust, he begins to see her not as the heartless monster he was led to believe, but a strong, vulnerable woman.

As they work to put together the pieces of a killer’s macabre puzzle, an attraction deeper than blood and bone flares between them. And they must reveal their deepest secrets to avoid becoming the final targets.

Quick & Dirty: Overall, Shadows of Fate has all the elements of a great read. Dennis definitely shows promise and her Shadow Born series could become a strong new series for other readers of Urban Fantasy.

Opening SentenceRotting wood crunched under Brenna’s weight as she stepped into the shadows beside the deserted storefront.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

An indeterminate amount of time has passed since The Fall, the human war that forced survivors underground and ripped opened the Veil between worlds. Vampires, demons and other countless creatures flooded the Earthly plane, fighting to control the last disjointed pockets of life and literally placing humankind at the bottom of the food chain. Now, only the Interspecies Relations Taskforce (IRT) stands between these factions and the extinction of humankind.

Banished from her own homeworld and forced through the Veil, Brenna Baudouin’s Shadow Bearer magic is one the most powerful weapons the IRT has in the fight to maintain order. She’s smart, beautiful and utterly deadly. She’s also been the only one of her kind on Earth for close to a century. So it’s understandable that she’d have some conflicting emotions after walking into her office and finding Gray Warlow at her desk. Though she suspects Gray has been sent to Denver to kill her on her father’s orders, she can’t help being drawn to the attractive male Shadow Bearer with strangely familiar eyes and dangerous secrets. Things between the two of them become even more complicated when Brenna is linked to a string of gruesome murders. As their investigation uncovers the truth behind the plot to frame Brenna, they discover that they have no choice but to combine their powers to stop a killer from her past.

Normally, I have a pretty good sense of how I’m going to rate a book as soon as I get to the blank page (or screen) at the end. Not so with Shadows of Fate, the first book in the Shadow Born series.  I’ve flip-flopped between 3-and-4 Skulls for a couple of days, trying to decide how to write the review when I have such a torn response.

Dennis created an interesting post-apocalyptic world and I especially enjoyed her mythology. The idea that paranormal creatures aren’t from Earth, that they live in parallel dimensions distinct from each other, is one of the most unique explanations I’ve read for their origins. This concept provided an explanation for why things were happening and demonstrated the need for the IRT.

It’s difficult for even the most experience writer to create an in-depth urban fantasy without overwhelming the reader though. Dennis walked a thin line between giving too much information and keeping me interested. There were definitely times when I felt like Shadows of Fate veered more into a science fiction story. There were also times when things just didn’t add up. Why didn’t the Guardians, immensely powerful beings with the ability to prevent anyone from traveling through the Veil, stop the influx of creatures into the Earthly realm in the beginning? If Brenna could banish demons back to their own realms, why couldn’t she do the same with other creatures fighting for power? If vampires and the like are from another plane of existence, where do human ghosts come from?

Probably the biggest issue, though, was the relationship between Brenna and Gray. Whether done intentionally or not, Brenna weakened as the story progressed. It almost felt like she immediately fell into the “damsel in distress” role as soon as Gray arrived. She had every right to demand the murderer be dealt with on Earth, especially considering her past. Yet she barely showed any anger or doubt when Gray basically bullied her into doings things his way. Her seemingly easy acceptance of Gray’s secret was another big sticking point for me. Dennis created an excellent sense of anticipation for the Big Reveal, building the sexual tension and emotional struggles between Brenna and Gray until that moment. Yet the story fell flat right when it should’ve exploded and the conclusion left me feeling slightly cheated.

There were several things I truly enjoyed about the story. Dennis’ world-building was original and her explanation of the existence of paranormal creatures was unique. Unfortunately, there were also a lot of things I didn’t like. The lower rating is ultimately due to the fact that the characters and story seemed to run out of steam long before the weak ending. I have a mild interest in the unanswered questions this story raised but probably won’t continue with the series.

Notable Scene:

“Gray.” He took her hand. It was too cold, making him wonder how long it had been since she had fed. “Are you going to try to kill me again or are we good?”

Mira shrugged. “Can’t make any promises about tomorrow, but I’m not an idiot. I’m no match for you. Sam may be, but you’re strong enough for our purposes.”

“And those are?”

“Protection. You never know when a demon is going to attack, especially lately. We have only one another, and we have no use for anyone who is not powerful enough to keep up.” Sam settled into a wide legged stance next to Mira. “The war may be over for the humans, but it’s not for us.”

“I know.” Gray took a deep breath. “I just moved here, but I thought this was a safe haven.”

Mira snorted. “If you want safety move east. You won’t find it here.”

Shadow Born Series:

1. Shadows of Fate (April 8, 2014)

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FTC Advisory: Samhain Publishing provided me with a copy of Shadows of Fate. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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