Tuesday, April 14, 2020

M.J. Scott - Shadow Kin

Welcome to the Half-Light City.
Imagine a city divided. On one side, the Night World, ruled by the Blood Lords and the Beast Kind. On the other, the elusive Fae and the humans, protected by their steadfast mages. A city held together by nothing more than a treaty-and even then, just barely...
I was born of a Fae mother, but I had no place amongst her kind. They called me "soulless." An abomination. Perhaps they're right...I'm a wraith, a shadow who slips between worlds. I was given into the service of a Blood Lord who raised me to be his most feared assassin. Still, I'm nothing more than a slave to my master, and to the need that only he can fulfill...
Then he orders me to kill Simon DuCaine, a powerful sunmage. In the blaze of his magic, my own disappears. Instead of seeking revenge, Simon shows me mercy. He wants to free me. But that's one thing my master and his kind will never allow.
And even if I thought I could trust Simon, stepping from the shadow into the light isn't as simple as it sounds...

Comment: I had this book in the pile to read since 2011. I've said before that there was a time when I collected the first books of a series so that I could have a lot to be interested in and potentially long series to devour after. That coincided with the time UF and PNR were at their peak when it came to hype and fame and this means there are plenty of first books in these genres in my physical TBR.
This book was one of those but I don't think I'll continue with the series even though this book wasn't completely negative for me.

In this book we find a world where there are many other beings in the world besides humans and when the story begins we learn the established treaties in place state humans and (most of) the fae seem to be on one side and vampires and shifters are on the other.
Things aren't totally black and white though, which means there is a thin line between good and bad deeds and that is precisely why when assassin Lily is charged to kill Simon, a human, by the orders of her master vampire Lucius, she is surprised when failing, that he isn't a bad person and seems to be captivating, for a human. 
Despite her attempt to kill him, Simon actually welcomes her and does what he can to help her be free of her bond with the vampire but will they manage to do that, to help others in need as well and still maintain the peace?

While reading, I kept thinking this story certainly had the most obvious element that we could use to classify it as a UF story line, like all others of the kind: fast pace.
It seemed as if there was always something happening, some situation developing, the characters always seemed to be moving forward or if not, they would be planning, they would be doing something and suddenly, another situation started and it was hard to breathe between chapters.

On one hand, this is good, because it makes for a fluid, non stop read and it makes the reader feel things are never static.
On the other, it made me struggle a little to get a grasp on the characters, on their personalities and characterization. There are series in these genres (UF and PNR) that are written in a way that the fast pace is suitable but I'd say here, this being a first book too, it could be a better idea to just let things go slowly, so the reader could have more time to be used to who was who.

Or, perhaps, had the focus of the book been on other elements...
For instance, the main characters have, of course, the focus of the development and besides the fact they like one another and want to save others and do right deeds, there isn't much more to them besides the basics and the superficial. The little personal things are so meshed up with the plot needs that I didn't have the feeling they were perfect on their own, only if they were paired with something else (Lily with her bod with the vampires but also with her need to be a better person, Simon with his connection with light and fighting the bad guys).

Nowadays, since my tastes have changed, I'd like to see different things, to see the idea of this world developed in a different way, more balanced, without there existing bad guys, only different goals in the characters...a story about the paranormal community and how they mingle with humans, something like that. 
Some readers have said the main bad guy had no plans, was not given enough voice so what was the purpose...well, for me I liked he didn't have even more importance. In fact, I wish he wasn't a bad guy at all! I just love when PNR/UF authors develop amazing communities/families/societies and make things work even if there are enemies/bad people just like in a contemporary suspense or romance, etc.

This book was published in 2011 so it seems it followed the trends of the time and that can't change now, even I did imagine through the read, how I would do things instead.
I liked Lily and her need to know who she is besides a servant to the vampire master, I liked her relationship with Simon wasn't easy but they tried to be considerate of the other.
The secondary characters didn't wow me, though. This is why, even reading the blurbs for the next books in this series, I don't feel like keeping up.

All in all, this was good enough, easy to read but it no longer satisfies my preferences in the genre.
Grade: 5/10

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