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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Shade Fright: Alchemy Mondays in Calgary, Alberta

Recently I finished a book titled Shade Fright by Canadian author Sean Cummings. Shade Fright is the first of a series of books by Sean Cummings that follows the adventures of Canadian government employee Valerie Stevens. As you could probably guess, Valerie isn't the normal Canadian employee. For lack of a better term (and because I'm a fan of Fullmetal Alchemist), Valerie is a State Alchemist for the Canadian government. Her job is to negotiate with the various supernatural residents of Canada to keep them from scaring the living daylights out of ordinary folks like you and me. Well...if we were Canadian, but I digress.

But Valerie's job isn't all peaches and cream. There are plenty of supernatural beings who refuse to negotiate and are determined to cause trouble. That's when Valerie rolls up her sleeves and gets stuff done to keep us normal people safe. Only a handful of people know what Valerie actually
does for the government, so her job isn't exactly glamorous. And there are plenty of times her job's downright dangerous, but it still sounds like a pretty cool job to have.

Oh yes, the plot! I should mention that. Okay, so we get a little introduction to Valerie, what she does, and her boyfriend Dave who drives a dump truck. Pretty cool. We follow our intrepid heroine out to an Alberta farm where a grain bin has disappeared into thin air and has been replaced by a three hundred foot hole in the ground. Also the grass and trees located around the grain bin have mysteriously died. Valerie rightly suspects something supernatural is running amok and begins to investigate in earnest. Soon Valerie discovers the missing grain bin is just a warning sign of a greater and more nefarious plot that endangers not only Canada, but perhaps the world. Fortunately, Valerie's got plenty of help: the ghost of a former Canadian prime minister, her best friend who's been turned into a zombie...kind of sort of (it's complicated), and her magical mentor a dwarf troll who looks a little like Yoda.

I have to admit, I was personally very interested in this book. There were a few parts in the middle I shook my head at, but it's only because I'm a stickler for using thou and thee. (Yes, there are rules to it.) The characters are interesting, the plot engaging, and the writing enjoyable. For the first of a series of books it's a very promising start and I hope to hear more about Valerie Stevens in the future. Fortunately there is a sequel,
Funeral Pallor, which I should hopefully get to soonish. Oh, a final note on the good things: I liked the story took place in Calgary, Alberta. Not that I'm a super fan of Canada or anything, but it was refreshing to read a story somewhere different.

The one downside is that I couldn't find
Shade Fright at my local booksellers. However, this book is available on Amazon at a very reasonable price. I highly recommend everyone go and read this book. Definitely a four sheep book.



  1. So does her boyfriend stink from driving a dump truck? Just wondering :)

    Book sounds really good, I liked that review a lot Ben. I will have to add this to my reading list. Very nice

  2. great review Ben. I hope to read this one soon. I love a good UF with a little different twist.

    you can get the book through bookdepository!

  3. This sounds like a book I could really sink my teeth into. Very nice