Friday, 29 June 2007

Shadows in the Darkness by Elaine Cunningham

NOTE - (As I was posting not so long ago about how I find new books, thought I'd share how I found this one.) I came across the character of Gwen on the Magical Minxes blog . I'm not sure why I was there, I think maybe because Rachel Caine had said Joanne Baldwin (Weather Warden) had been invited to post, so I thought I'd check it out. As well as Joanne there were a couple of other characters I've enjoyed reading about. LOL - both happen to be succubi. As they're referred to on the blog Jezebel - the 'wicked' succubus and Georgina the 'nice' succubus. I was intrigued enough to check the other characters out. As I'm not really into the lighter urban fantasy I decided to read the first of Elaine Cunninghams Changeling Detective Series.

Here's the review :-

Following a drug bust which goes spectacularly wrong, Gwen Gellman leaves the police force to start her own PI business, specializing in finding runaways. As she investigates her latest case, she finds it has ties to her own past. Now her real family know about her, and though Gwen is determined to find the missing girl before it's too late, her time is running out.

Shadows in the Darkness is a PI novel with an urban fantasy twist. For much of the book the plot deals with Gwen finding a missing girl, and investigating the failed drug bust which led to her leaving the police force. However, every so often we are given the hint that there is more to this than meets the eye. Alongside her normal life, Gwen is also subject to a more supernatural heritage, of which she is unaware. Though as a reader you can almost feel the metaphorical net slowly tightening around Gwen as she tries to find the runaway. This is a multi-layered tale of elves, missing girls, murder and police corruption; where it seems every character has an ulterior motive and a hidden agenda.

Shadows in the Darkness is probably not for those readers who prefer paranormal romance. Gwen deals with the ugly side of life most people would like to ignore. One of the reviews in the front of the book refers to SITD as a supernatural Alias and that's a good summation. In trying to describe it to someone I said it was like Karin Slaughter only not quite as graphic and with elves. If you like gritty crime novels / PI mysteries but were interested in trying out urban fantasy this would be a good book to start with. The elves aren't elflike - forget Orlando Bloom as Legolas - but it's clear they aren't just humans with pointy ears either (this is driven home even more in the second book). Although the elves are almost a hidden presence within the story - they appear only briefly and we meet some without knowing they are elves - they are woven so tightly into the fabric of Gwen's existence that you couldn't divorce them from the plot. If it weren't for the underlying motive for much of what Gwen deals with having this supernatural cause SITD could almost be read as a straight crime novel.

For much of the book Gwen remains ignorant of what her real family are, and how the machinations of the other elves are affecting her. Like Sydney Bristow in Alias, through no fault of her own she's blind to the motives of those around her. The reader knows slightly more than Gwen - the story is bookended by a prologue and epilogue told from the point of view of a different character - but only enough to make it interesting. :) And just like in Alias there's a twist at the end which will leave you wanting to get your hands on the next book.

Recommended for fans of Wen Spencer's Ukiah Oregon series, Kat Richardson's Greywalker, Charlaine Harris's Lily Bard and Harper Connelly series.

Book #2 Shadows in the Starlight is also available


Crys said...

I've flipped through that book, but I personally didn't like it; I think it has something to do with the writing style. It put me off a little, so I never did finish the book.

Might pick it up again one day, then...

LesleyW said...

I think you'd need to like the PI/crime novel genre as well.

Urban fantasy is my first love, but I also like Karin Slaughter, and I liked Charlaine Harris's Lily Bard series as well.