Monday, 23 July 2007

Shadows in the Starlight by Elaine Cunningham

Shadows in the Starlight picks up where the first book in the Changeling Detective series ended. Whilst investigating the aftermath of her previous case, Gwen is also looking into the case of a missing wife and child. Once more she finds that her own past is inextricably linked to the case and as she delves deeper she puts not only her own life, but also those of her friends in danger.

Unlike Shadows in the Darkness the elves are much more in evidence here. Anyone who didn't appreciate how manipulative and cruel they can be from the first book will do so by the end of this one. We get a better insight into their machinations and through Gwen we begin to learn how their society works - and it's not pretty. They have an Aryan attitude to humans and imperfections, and it appears anyone who doesn't reach their standards is terminated. Slightly worrying for Gwen who has only manifested two of her three powers.

The reader is slightly ahead of Gwen in knowing what's happening, as once more the beginning and ending of the story are told from another character's point of view. Quite a clever device as it gives us an idea of how out of her depth Gwen is, whilst at the same time we can accept that she's working in the dark with limited information.

There was just one point where I really thought she was stupid. Which is when Ian Forest asks to demonstrate on her how sacred oaths are binding to elves. Even though she patently doesn't believe him I think she should have exercised more caution. Also after this she does become a little trigger happy with the use of this sacred oath. I'd kind of got the feeling that it was used by the other elves only for really important things. But I guess this serves to illustrate how different Gwen's priorities are to the other elves and how her agenda is almost diametrically opposed to theirs. The things that she takes seriously such as a missing human child seem trivial to them.

I also felt like somehow I'd missed part of the story that occurred in between books 1 and 2. I didn't remember Gwen sleeping with Damian - this doesn't mean it didn't happen but it couldn't have been that memorable a scene if I didn't recall it. So as I was reading I was like 'whoa, when did this happen?'.

The story ends with Gwen slightly further along the way to finding out who she is but we are still left with the main arc unresolved. Frustrating as there doesn't seem to be a book 3 on the horizon. If you haven't read the first book you may struggle a little to get into the story though the main plot points are covered. Recommended for fans of urban fantasy who like a strong PI twist - such as Charlaine Harris's Harper Connelly series.

Also available
Shadows in the Darkness (Book 1)

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