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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review: Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison

Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison

Some people will do anything to avoid it. Even trade their immortal souls for endless existence.

Secretly, inexorably, they are infiltrating our world, sucking the essence out of unsuspecting victims with their hideous parody of a kiss.

Adam Thorne founded the Institute to study and destroy his monster of a brother, but the key to its success is held in the pale, slender hand of a woman on the run. There is something hauntingly different about Talia O’Brien, her unknowing sensuality, her uncanny way of slipping into Shadow.

This is the place between life and what comes after - a dark forest of fantasy, filled with beauty, peril, mystery. And Talia is about to open the door.

I have been looking forward to reading this series after I read Kellison’s novella Shadow Touch. I was intrigued by the dark and original world she had created, and I found her writing voice captivating. This is an Urban Fantasy with a touch of tragic fairy tale love. Even though the character Shadowman (Death) only appears in the Prologue, Epilogue and a few pages in between, it is his story that captured my heart and it is the consequences of his love for a human woman that sets the events of this book in motion. There is a poetic feel in the way Kellison writes him, which matches the dark world of Twilight he must live in. Here is an example:

Shadowman grips the cold staff of his scythe, its blade pitiless as death and sharp as his grief. Shadows howl and roar as they surround him like great dark beasts of wind and fury.
Over the encircling snarl, a soul cries a high song of deepest terror. It is an Old sound brought up by a child’s throat in a composition of broken, dissonant notes summoning Death to a hunt.
The scream rips through the veils of Twilight and rends the bindings of his prison. Freedom. Shadow snaps at his heels, but they cannot follow him.
Through his child’s scream, he is born again into the world.

Day. Sunlight breaks on the cloak at his shoulders as he emerges onto the battlefield. Neither forest nor structure obstructs his view; Death was made for war.
A host of men train their weapons on his daughter. Deathless ones ruled by soul-gnawing hunger slink toward their human prey. And beyond the fray, over the crest of the mountain, a demon, master of this chaos.
The snake who slipped by Death and into the mortal world while he was lost to Talia’s mother.
Demon! Harm my child and you will see what hell Death can wreak on Earth.
The demon opens a human mouth to laugh back at him.

The heroine of the story is Talia; She knows she is different from other people, but has no idea why. She is scared of her ability to manipulate shadows and sense people's emotions when she touches them, and has spent most of her life hiding her talent and doing what she can to avoid forming attachments. The novel also explores the question: what do you get when Death and a mortal have a child? I was surprised when I found out what Talia was. Not going to tell you of course ;)

Adam is a man filled with rage and is focused on vengeance. He has spent the last 6 years trying to figure out where the monsters he calls Wraiths come from and how to kill them. They are soulless demons that feed on the souls of humans, and it is getting hard to hide their existence from the rest of the world. But has his personal need for revenge turned him into a different kind of monster, one that can’t love anymore?

Talia finds herself being hunted by the Wraiths and ends up being saved by Adam and taken to his laboratory called The Segue Institute, but it turns out her rescuer may be no better than the monsters hunting her. Together they discover who she is, what it means and how she fits into the mystery of the Wraiths. The story focuses on Talia and Adam’s feelings of love, loss, grief, loyalty and sacrifice. There is a lot of action and bad things happen to a lot of good people.

I like the twist Kellison puts on Faery lore, Death and demon mythology. Talia and Adam manage to defeat the Demon that produced the Wraiths, but the Wraiths are still out there and need to be hunted. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Shadow Fall, to learn more about Shadowman, his world of Twilight, and the rules that govern the boundaries between life on Earth and death.

One last thing, don't judge this book by the cover. While it is a nice cover, it screams Young Adult to me (I am sure Erin is rolling her eyes at this point <G> because many reviewers have brought up this point) and doesn't begin to convey the type of story this is. The cover for the second book Shadow Fall is better, but the publishers nailed it with the third book in the series Shadowman.

SS (edited by BAK)

4 Soul-sucking Sheep!


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  2. Sounds like a solid read for UF fans. Perked my interest as well....

    Wow Just saw Gini's comment above!