Queen of Shadows
Ace, August 2010
Spread throughout the dark corners of our world lies the Shadow World, a society of vampires that feeds off the living. In Austin, Texas, one woman’s madness will drive her into a world that few people ever see – or even know exists…
Shortly after she picked up a guitar, Miranda Grey conquered the Austin music scene with a newfound ability to psychically manipulate her audience’s emotions. But as her powers outgrow her control, her mind is increasingly invaded by haunting secrets and overwhelming sadness. Unable to look anyone in the eye, Miranda is fast approaching the edge of insanity – with no one to catch her fall…
When he outlawed killing humans, David Solomon ignited a civil war among Austin’s vampires. As Prime of the South, his sympathy for mortals angered the old guard who refuse to control their violent urges. David has his hands full with the growing insurgency, but he takes in a broken-down woman, a musician in need of supernatural guidance. Little does he know that Miranda Grey has the power to change his world as well…
The Rule Breaking:
Rules, taboos, call them what you will, this author breaks three major ones.
*SPOILER ALERT AHEAD*
Number 1 – The heroine is gang raped in the first chapter. It is brutal and graphic and may be hard to stomach for some. Was it necessary for her character to grow from it? I’m on the fence on that one. She was already on the slippery slope with her psychic abilities running amok. It was almost adding insult to injury.
Number 2 – The hero has sex with other women after he’s started to fall in love with the heroine. This is often a major no-no in many romance reader’s eyes. For me, it worked. The link between sex and blood-taking for a vampire are inextricably linked. It made him more male than martyr. Don’t get me wrong, he still pined for Miranda, choosing women who looked like her, but he certainly didn’t abstain while they were apart.
Number 3 – When the hero is not with the heroine, he is brutal. David could easily have played the villain in this story. To keep his position as Prime, he has to torture enemies (often in excruciating detail) and kill without hesitation or mercy. Being King isn’t pretty or easy and the author depicts this part of his life without holding back any punches.
The Eye Rolling:
This story is basically the same immortal warrior saving the wounded female and bringing her back to the compound/mansion full of other immortals, where he stows her away in a bedroom for most of the story while he goes out and saves the world. I’m getting really tired of that scenario. I like to see a heroine stand on her own two feet and not stay at home waiting for her man to return every night. Miranda finally grows a backbone, but it takes 3/4 of the book for her to do it.
This book should have been titled the KING OF SHADOWS because it was more David’s book than Miranda’s. At least the first 3/4 of the book was. After her rape, she spent all her time sleeping, hiding or crying in her room. Was it realistic for a rape victim? Yes. Was it interesting, story-wise? Not really. While I didn’t expect her to heal (both physically and mentally) right away, most of the book had everything happening around Miranda. She was not an active participant but more of a sub-plot until the end. Her scenes were slow and boring, with way too much thinking and wallowing in misery. David’s scenes were much more active and his war with the rogue vampires was by far more interesting.
I loved how the author depicted Miranda’s transition from human to vampire. It wasn’t easy or quick or romantic. When it happens, she is alone and scared, and we are witness to the pain and agony of her death and transformation. Brilliantly done. Only then did Miranda become an interesting character for me.
The ‘IT’ Factor:
I think the rule breaking is what put this book a step of above the others of its ilk. It’s dark and gritty and pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable in the romance genre. Some may not like it, but it’s what made this one different from all the other immortal warrior-type books out there. If you want a typical vampire romance, this may not be your cup of tea. But if you want a realistic (if a paranormal can be called realistic *G*) depiction of how a vampire society works and how one of its dark lords holds onto his power, this is it.