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REVIEW: Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass

Shadow Blade by Seressia GlassDear Ms. Glass,

Fictional diversity is a favorite topic here at Dear Author, and a personal focus of mine. I’m very resistant to the idea that readers don’t want to see more diverse representation in their books because I’m a reader and I very much want to see that. So I was very happy to give your novel a try.

Kira Solomon is a Shadowchaser, an agent for the Gilead Commission, an organization that fights the forces of evil (here called the Fallen). By day, however, she works as an antiquities expert and she finds her two lives colliding when her mentor is killed and his latest project, an ancient dagger, falls into her possession. Of course, the Fallen want the dagger and are tearing apart Atlanta to get it. To further complicate things, the dagger’s rightful owner, an immortal warrior, comes looking for it as well.

Longtime readers of the urban fantasy genre will probably not find anything especially new or unique in the premise or plot. In many respects, Kira is your standard urban fantasy heroine in terms of personality and traits. She’s a loner. She has a tragic backstory. She doesn’t get along well with authority figures. She’s a special, chosen one.

I did like her special ability, however, and it did go a long way to explaining Kira’s standoffishness. Kira is a sort of ultra-sensitive psychometrist; she can tell the history of any object simply by touching it. It’s so powerful that Kira has to take special measures just to wear clothes or eat food without going insane. It’s this same ability that landed Kira into the hands of the Gilead Commission in the first place, when she inadvertantly sent her adoptive sister into a coma as a child.

You’ll find the other staple UF elements here: the dead mentor, the mysterious artifact that everyone wants, the strained relationship with her immediate superior. Even the immortal love interest is here, although I liked the fact that Khefar is not a vampire and that his brand of immortality is a little bit on this side of creepy.

On the other hand, I found it very refreshing that the major characters were not white. (And even better that the cover reflects this fairly accurately!) I liked the fact that Kira had a good female friend who had her own life and wasn’t just there on the page to make Kira look better. The urban fantasy genre can always use more of that. I don’t know much about Egyptian mythology so I can’t speak at all about the authenticity or accuracy, but what I read of it here gave the book a fresh, added dimension. And Anansi was great.

Overall, I thought this was a worthwhile read. It didn’t necessarily break any new ground in terms of story but the very fact alone that Kira and company are black was enough to elevate this to a higher level for me. I look forward to reading about Kira’s next adventure. B-

My regards,
Jia

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Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!

11 Comments

  1. Seressia
    Apr 07, 2010 @ 09:24:02

    Thanks for reviewing Shadow Blade, Jia! I’m glad I was able to hold my own UF-wise, and made it an enjoyable read for you!

  2. Robin
    Apr 07, 2010 @ 11:35:33

    This is totally in my TBR pile — I’ve been waiting for this series to start for a while now.

  3. allison
    Apr 07, 2010 @ 15:27:23

    I’m really really looking forward to this book. Just bought it on B&N. I’ve been craving better UF books lately and this one sounds like a winner with the things you mention setting it apart.

    Thanks for the review!

  4. Roslyn Hardy Holcomb
    Apr 07, 2010 @ 17:17:58

    I’m a Seressia fangirl from way back and though I don’t read much UF I knew the writing was going to be stellar. The world-building impressed me and I was so caught up in the story I read it in one day. (No mean feat considering I have a 5 yo).

  5. Jia
    Apr 07, 2010 @ 17:34:41

    @Roslyn Hardy Holcomb: That’s something I forgot to mention! After reading lots of UF in which I couldn’t help but feel like the author was trying too hard (and resulting in some very messy and off-putting prose), I really appreciated the straightforward competence of Seresssia’s writing. It might not be to the taste of prose connoisseurs who like their texts to be visible and stylish, but I personally really appreciate writers who are able to write transparent prose that doesn’t interfere in any way with the story. I believe that’s a skill in and of itself, and one that should be prized alongside the more stylistic wordsmiths.

  6. Lynne Simpson
    Apr 07, 2010 @ 21:41:37

    Prose that is powerful and effective and elegant but does not call attention to itself is to me the hallmark of a writer who knows her shit backward and forward and whose primary focus is keeping the reader immersed in the story. Stylistic fiddly bits throw me out of the story almost every time, and if I’m kicked out, I tend to get distracted by other things and may not come back to the book for a long time.

    Khefar is one of the most compelling heroes I’ve read in quite a while. He was so vividly drawn that I felt like I could actually hear his voice as he spoke. I am eagerly awaiting learning more about him in the next books.

    Although I’m a little burned out on kick-butt heroines, there are still a few I can really connect with, and Kira’s at the top of that list. I hope this is a long series, because I could happily read every book in it.

    Roslyn, I devoured it just as quickly. :-)

  7. Janine
    Apr 08, 2010 @ 01:40:57

    @Jia: I haven’t read the book but just wanted to comment on your comment. I’m always puzzled when people speak of “transparent prose” because in all my years of reading, I’ve never encountered such a thing.

    Maybe that’s because I’m an auditory reader; I tend to imagine the sounds of the words I am reading, and to tune out other sounds at the same time. I can’t enjoy reading while listening to music with lyrics or having the TV in the background because the sound of other words is too distracting to me.

    Anyway, I think it’s interesting how we all read differently but to me there is no such thing as “transparent prose” or “prose that doesn’t call attention to itself.” To me all prose has a visible, noticeable style composed of sounds, so it’s just a matter of whether those sounds are pleasing to my ear or not. I think all prose calls attention to itself, otherwise it would not be on the page.

  8. Jia
    Apr 08, 2010 @ 05:17:37

    @Lynne Simpson: I’ve certainly read some fantasy novels which fall into that category, where the words themselves are more important than the story they convey. There are readers for that, obviously, but I do not count myself among that number.

    @Janine: That’s an interesting observation. I’ve heard other people describe the act of reading in the same way you do, so you’re certainly not alone. I very rarely hear the text in my head, so reading with background noise (music, tv, conversation, etc) doesn’t bother me at all. Instead, when I read, I either form mental images related to what I’m reading or see color/hear music in my head.

    As for transparent prose, do you think that might have something to do with the fact you write yourself? I just wonder. Since I know you write and that the construction of language and prose is very important to you, I can see how you would be very conscious of how it’s presented and utilized in fiction.

  9. Janine
    Apr 08, 2010 @ 13:18:53

    As for transparent prose, do you think that might have something to do with the fact you write yourself? I just wonder. Since I know you write and that the construction of language and prose is very important to you, I can see how you would be very conscious of how it's presented and utilized in fiction.

    It’s certainly possible. It’s also possible that English not being my native language has something to do with it as well. Switching primary languages slowed down my reading speed a lot so it may have served to make me more conscious of language too.

  10. MrsJoseph
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 09:52:45

    Ooooh! Not sure how I missed it but POC characters?? Well written story??
    I’m all over this like white on rice!

  11. Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass « OSgA Book Reviews
    Nov 04, 2012 @ 15:44:22

    […] heard about this series and author via a recommendation at Dear Author. We were discussing the way [some] authors and [most] publishers are really screwing with the […]

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