Out of all the paranormal creatures, fairies are probably my least favorite of the bunch. They’re haughty and stiff and detached and just mea...more3.5 stars
Out of all the paranormal creatures, fairies are probably my least favorite of the bunch. They’re haughty and stiff and detached and just mean. I don’t like them. Enter Julie Kagawa, and I’ve now lifted my auto-ban on all things fairy.
A PLOT that made me swoon
The focus of this book is almost like a high fantasy with one of my favorite things to read about: questing. I looove questing. I don’t even really care what the goal is. Find a brother, throw a ring in lava, whatever, just take me on a quest. And that’s exactly what Kagawa does.
Meghan is sent bouncing all over the place across both the fairy realm and the mortal realm in search of information, weapons, and, ultimately, her brother. With never a dull moment, I was at the edge of my seat and constantly entertained. Julie Kagawa's world building is wonderful, creating vivid images of the various landscapes and multitude of creatures Meghan encounters. I lost myself entirely in her world.
I'm not feeling these people
So what’s with the lower rating? Because I’m a character girl, that’s why. With the exception of Grimalkin, they were all just a little, tiny bit lacking. I liked all of them, but I feel a little disconnect from them, like I don’t know their true selves. I also felt like there was a certain polish missing. There were some inconsistencies and some things the characters did that didn't make much sense to me or seemed to lack support. In a lot of ways this did read like a debut, which it is.
I loved Puck, but in this first book he’s not developed as much as I would have liked. He’s more the amusing sidekick than a full character in his own right. I like him, but I wanted more from him. His fighting style was pretty awesome though.
I’d heard so much about the amazing Prince Ash, and while there’s no denying he’s hot, I don’t think I love him quite as much as other people. Or, at least, I don’t love him for Meghan. His whole willingness to kill her sort of killed the romance for me. Their romance wasn’t overly annoying though, which I was happy about. It didn’t happen too quickly and it didn’t monopolize the story.
Then there’s Meghan herself. She’s…ok. I like her, but I don’t love her. I’ve heard people criticize her as weak, but I think her weakness is understandable. I like strong heroines, but I think she adjusted pretty well all things considered. As a first-person narrator, Meghan’s voice was nice to follow and not overly introspective.
My favorite character is Grimalkin. He’s a cat most people have compared to the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. I see that, but the character he really reminded me of even more was the cat in The Last Unicorn (I even picture him looking like that). Either way, Grimalkin rocked. He’s that sardonic, enigmatic character who always manages to appear when you need them but isn’t exactly your friend either. If Grimalkin was a human, I’d totally be Team Grimalkin. Since he’s, you know, a cat, I’m cheering instead of swooning.
The final word
I had first heard about this series from a reviewer who pretty much hated the books, so I had very low expectations. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I had only seen all the positive hype. The book doesn’t live up to the hype for me, but it did change my mind about fairies and it was a fun read.
Objectively I feel like some things do need improvement, but I was so easily caught up in the book that it's almost like a guilty pleasure. I am glad I picked it up and I will be continuing with this series.
On that note, this is book one of a series but I think it ended pretty well on its own. There are a few strings left for the story to continue on, but there aren’t any major cliffhangers and the main story arc wraps up nicely.
Mourning her sister's recent death, Phe is doubly plagued by strange dreams of her sister and a spooky boarding school. When an acceptance letter from...moreMourning her sister's recent death, Phe is doubly plagued by strange dreams of her sister and a spooky boarding school. When an acceptance letter from the same school arrives for her deceased sister, Phe feels drawn to attend herself. Hoping to find answers to her strange dreams, Phe finds herself instead draw in into the paranormal mystery surrounding the sleepy town of Shadow Hills. As she gathers clues--a graveyard filled with people who all died in the same year, a hospital filled with far too young dementia patients, students with abnormal abilities, a secret council, a ghostly ancestor, and a murder--Phe finds herself in the middle of a centuries old conflict.
I enjoyed this book, though not as much as I was hoping I would. Phe is a likable character with a good attitude and an inquisitiveness that is both endearing and helpful in moving the story forward. I really could have done without the constant asides about her musical preferences, probably because I didn't know or care to know any of the bands she mentions (I also wonder if this will hurt the book's staying power in years to come). Phe's love interest is a nice guy, but he struck me as a little too perfect. I didn't really buy into his character or their rapid romance, he was kind of bland, and his unbelievable "goodness" rubbed me the wrong way.
Unlike so many books, the "good" secondary characters don't feel like afterthoughts and instead have fully-formed personalities (I really liked Adriana). I wish they had more page-time and were more involved in solving the mysteries. Unfortunately, this character strength didn't hold true for the "bad" characters. While most were given plausible explanations for their behavior, their actions and personalities were pretty "generic bad guy" and so the explanations rang a little hollow for me.
The plot was equally conflicted for me .On one hand, the plot ideas were great. We finally get a paranormal book that doesn't have werewolves and vampires running around (though I do love them). Instead, Shadow Hills has a completely unique (and scientific!) paranormal occurrence. Hopcus also weaves in more traditional paranormal elements of ghosts and witchcraft. I found myself equally drawn to these two paranormal mysteries and I sped through this book primarily hoping to learn more about these aspects.
While I really liked the plot ideas, they weren't fleshed out very well and I really didn't like the pacing of the plot. Too many mysteries are introduced but not enough time is spent on unraveling these secrets. Instead, some of the answers and clues are left disappointingly sparse to the point where they only make surface level sense, whereas others are answered too rapidly and with unbelievable convenience. Events are also doled out with excruciating slowness, and then all of a sudden a bunch of things are dumped on the reader.
The main mystery is solved in this book, but there are tons of questions still left unanswered (presumably waiting for a sequel). I want to find out the answers to those questions, so I will read the next book when it comes out. I'm pretty sure Shadow Hills is the first book Hopcus has published, and while it is uneven, it does show a lot of promise that I hope will be realized in future books.
As a teen working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie spends her days catching and tagging all sorts of paranormal baddi...more Summary
As a teen working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie spends her days catching and tagging all sorts of paranormal baddies. Never questioning her duties, Evie goes along with the agency’s activities until the arrival of a completely new paranormal changes her world. Calling into question everything she thought she knew, Lend, the hot new paranormal, challenges Evie to reconsider her actions. He also comes with devastating news: Someone has been systematically murdering paranormals, and Evie and her friends could be next.
I loved, loved, loved this book. Loved it. Why? In large part because of Evie. She’s such a super sweet character and so well developed. I could easily see myself hanging out with her. She’s hilarious (really, I was laughing so hard throughout this book), but she’s also sensitive. The story is told in the first person with Evie narrating, so we get to know her really well. She’s light and bubbly, but she also has depth. She’s been raised in a pretty cold environment without ever really having anyone to love her for herself.
At first blush she may seem a little too stereotypical teenager with her love of shopping, teen drama television shows, and pink fashion (all things I think are actually kind of fun). Going deeper, though, you really get a sense of her separation from all these normal teenage things and so her interest in them seems less superficial and more sad. She seems to try so hard to create normality and love around her because the reality of her life lacks all of that. My heart breaks for her, especially as she uncovers the secrets and prophesies throughout the book.
Evie isn’t the only thing I loved about this book. I mentioned the humor, but I really need to reiterate this. I was so darn happy reading this book. I kept smiling and giggling and smirking. I dare anyone to read the first page and not, at the very least, crack a smile. Go on, I’m serious. I dare you. Look, I’ll even give you a link.
Ok, did you read it? Well, did you smile? I read that first page in the library, closed the book, and walked straight to the checkout line. I knew I was going to love the book based on that first page alone, and I was right. Kiersten White’s writing style is so fluid and fun, but she also really knows how to keep suspense high. There was this one scene (don’t worry I’m not going to give anything away) where Evie encountered the big bad of the story and I was all prepared to start screaming myself. It was tense! But also so much fun! I don’t know how White manages to combine the two, but as a reader I am so glad she did.
But those aren’t the only reasons I loved this book. Yeah, there’s more. There’s all those other characters. Evie is great, but so is pretty much everyone else. Evie’s best friend (a mermaid!) is so sweet and such a fun character. She speaks through a voice translating computer, all monotone and with any curses bleeped over. She was hilarious. I was so glad Evie had a friend like her. Then there’s Lend. He’s a good guy and his paranormal ability is really very cool. I hope we get to see it used more in the sequel. That’s all I’m going to say about him. Don’t want to spoil anything for you. And the big bad? Jeez, I can’t say anything about that one without giving stuff away, so I’ll just say that I LOVE what White did with this character.
And I’m still not finished explaining all the reasons I loved this book. I’m a, how should I say this, I’m a “throw it all in the pot” kind of girl. When I eat rice, for example, I don’t want just plain rice. I want my rice to have a ton of stuff in it. Cranberries, mushrooms, onions, chicken, whatever. Throw it all in and I’m happy.
I’m finding I also like my books like that. Not with food (then I’m just super hungry every time I read), but with paranormals. I love that publishers are printing so many different paranormal stories: we’ve got werewolves, vampires, mermaids, fairies, and so on. It’s great. Only thing is, they’re each neatly sectioned off into their own little books. Kiersten White took all those major players, threw them together, and even added a bunch more of her own. I loved it! Even better, it all worked. It didn’t feel jumbled or awkward at all.
I especially liked how White made her fairies. They were mysterious and dangerous, seriously dangerous. I liked that so much more than the delicate sparkly fairies of a lot of other series. How am I supposed to swoon over a fairy guy if he resembles body glitter? I love glitter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually kind of obsessed with glitter and anything sparkly (put it on a pretty cover and I could stare at it all day stroking the cover with a dazed expression mumbling “Pretty….” Think a sparkle zombie).
But on a hot guy? I may be kind of old school here, but I want my men to be described with words like “rugged” not “disco ball.” Likewise, if you'd use a word to describe a ballerina, then I don't want that word used to describe the guy I'm supposed to find attractive. Reth, the second love interest and a fairy, might have been gorgeous (and I’m so not complaining about that), but he was in no way, shape, or form delicate. Um, can you tell I liked this character? I hope and suspect we’ll see a lot more of him in the second book (Sorry Team Lend girls, I loved Lend, but I’ve got a thing for the bad boys).
Finally, the last thing I loved about this book is the mystery. We’re fed little bits and pieces as the story progresses. A hint here, a cryptic statement there. I know Reth was bad news for Evie and she was right to try to avoid him, but I really just wanted her to tase him until he spilled the beans…in clear and complete sentences! He was such a tease with all of his little sly statements. Jerk! (I loved him.) Eventually most of these tid bits add up to an interesting conclusion that I really wasn’t expecting at all. Actually, there were a number of curve balls thrown here that I didn't see coming. I can’t wait to see how this is developed in the sequel.
I still have a ton of questions I’m hoping will be answered in the sequel (Supernaturally, coming out much too far away in September 2011), but this first book did wrap things up well. I hate it when I’m left hanging right in the middle of a storyline with zero answers. Paranormalcy didn’t do that. We get closure in a lot of areas, but significant parts of the storyline are still left open. Fans of Lee Nichols’ Deception (my review) will love Paranormalcy (and if Paranormalcy sounds good to you, then be sure to check out Deception if you haven’t already read it!)(less)