Published by Penguin on 2010-08-31
Genres: Speculative Fiction, Urban Fantasy
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By the end of Queen of Shadows, I appreciated the story and enjoyed it. However, the first half of the book is very slow. There was a lot of setting up, in terms of the world, the vampires’ society, and Miranda and her powers. On one hand, I can understand that these things needed to be explained before the story could really start moving. On the other hand, I was unfortunately bored while all of that setting up was going on. The second half of the book moves much more quickly and is quite exciting, so if you can hold on through the setup, you’re in for a great climax and a nice setup for a series.
I feel I need to include a warning: the brutal attack scene at the beginning of the book might trigger some readers. It is understandably unpleasant to read, and it made me extremely uncomfortable. That’s the purpose of the scene, of course, but it is definitely a scene that might trigger readers sensitive to the nature of the scene.View Spoiler »See, Miranda is gang raped. I’m personally very uncomfortable with the use of rape in books as a means of character development. Rape is such an intensely degrading act against a person, and unfortunately it is often used in a sensational way in fiction. Each book is different, of course, in how rape is handled. I despise books where the raped character gets over it immediately, or where a character (usually female) is raped as a way to further the character development of a male character. In Queen of Shadows, I didn’t feel like the rape was gratuitous, but I also felt like Miranda could have simply been beaten. She is close enough to the edge that a beating would have had just as believable an effect on her psyche as a rape. But that is just me and my own personal quirks. Others might find the scene effective, and others might find it so repellent as to turn them off to the book. To each her own. « Hide Spoiler
I’m originally from Texas, though you’d never know it to hear me talk, and so I especially appreciated the fact that the novel is set in Austin. So many urban fantasies these days seem to be set either in the Deep South—often Atlanta—or in the Pacific Northwest, so it was a refreshing change. Sylvan is an Austin local and that definitely comes through in how she describes the city. It’s vibrant and real, and it made me want to go exploring the city and the Hill Country.
Of all the characters, I found David Solomon to be the most interesting. I’m a sucker for well-crafted vampires, and Sylvan’s vampire hierarchy is original and intriguing. I’m definitely interested to see more of this world in the future. Miranda, on the other hand, was a bit blurry around the edges; I never felt like I got to know her and didn’t sympathize with her as much as I wish I had. I can’t exactly put my finger on why I couldn’t get into her head, and I’d love to hear other readers’ opinions on her. She’s a likable character, and I get the feeling she’s going to be much more developed in the next book of the series.
While not without problems, Queen of Shadows is a promising start to a series, and I’m looking forward to reading more.