Lesley's Reviews > The Scent of Shadows

The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson
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Jun 21, 2010

really liked it
Read in June, 2010

Wow. This was different than anything I've ever read - the magic system, the types of supernatural people - ok, those were really the big differences. No vampire or werewolves, thank god. That has been beaten to DEATH. In this case, it was agents of Light and Shadow. But they aren't demons. Or anything else. The can smell each other and chase their enemies down by scent. They fight with weapons, not magic. They are sort of superheroes with secret identities. They aren't human, but sort of another branch of human evolution, each assigned to a sign of the zodiac, with good and evil versions of both. And the evil ones are REALLY REALLY EVIL. The good ones try to protect humans, and the evil side tries to incite chaos. It was really original and well done - so original that sometimes it was almost a foreign concept. Which was nice.

So I had set this series aside while culling through that giant stack of paranormal romance I have. It looked more serious, like it was a series of actual novels instead of just trashy soft-core erotica, and I was right. The author really is a good writer - she's a bit more literary than what I've been reading lately (as literary as you can get writing paranormal adventure), and boy, can she emote. She had me in tears for a good half the book, and I really cared about the characters. At first I thought just the heroine had SO many bad things happen to her - but it wasn't just her, it was really every character on the light side. There is so much tragedy and pain for ALL of them, and the author makes you feel every bit of it. Luckily, it isn't just a huge depression-fest - she also writes about rising above the pain and tragedy and making good things with or in spite of it, instead of living in darkness and being trapped by your past. I wouldn't say it was inspirational, but it was good to read.

The one thing I really didn't like was her attempt at humor. Sure, her insults and banter with the enemy were GREAT, and her dialogue really moved naturally. Except - there were times when she would try to set up tableaus of humor that just fell flat with me, mainly due to hinging the entire thing on making fun of a stereotype. First it was the blonde bimbo with giant boobs, then it was the comic book nerds, and then the mannish woman. Most of the books in this genre rely on humor to move it along, and certainly without humor this series would be rough, but she just missed the mark on this part. Even the stereotypes were just wrong - as in, they weren't really stereotypes. I guess you should know your subjects before you make fun of them. If the characters hadn't been SO far off from reality or had been even a reasonable stereotype, it might not have been so lame. And I don't toss off 'lame' casually like we to in modern speech, I mean that it really limped sadly along.

The other thing that annoyed me was that she built this absolutely beautiful love story - and then just kind of ignored it. There was one sex scene, and I can tell you that after all the trashy crap I've been reading, I'd begun to think if I just didn't like reading sex scenes. I generally think they're boring, or jar you out of the narrative, or are just thrown in there, or are obnoxious in some other way. But this sex scene was beautiful, sexy, and I was riveted to every word. It wasn't tittilating so much as it an amazing emotional ride, finding your lost love and realizing that everything is right. Maybe I'm just one of those stereotypical women that doesn't like sex scenes unless there's a great story and emotion involved. It's nice to know that I can be moved like that, and enjoy it so much.

So here the author set up this amazing romance that was so beautiful and tragic - aaaaand the next thing you know, you don't hear anything about this guy. If they're soooo in love, why isn't she thinking about him more? It's like she switched him off. Then randomly she would think about him, and it was supposed to be full of emotion, but I just didn't feel it. And then suddenly it was like, "Ooo, who's that SUPER HOT GUY?" Then nothing - then how much she loves the original guy again. It was just kind of weird. I don't know if she was trying to set up an alternate love interest or what, but that seemed kind of impossible considering what happened to the original couple in the first 1/4 of the book, and their tragic past. So she has this one great love, but only part of the time?

And lastly, a minor thing, really - during a big Sherlock Holmes moment near the end, where she reveals the enemy plot - everyone just sat around and listened. No interrupting, nobody walking out, nobody yelling at her - despite the fact that nobody trusted her and any real person would have walked out in disgust or thrown her in the klink or punched her. Uh...

Anyway, quibbles aside, I really do think this a VERY good author who can write original and interesting things, as well as amazing AMAZING emotion. I have the next 2 novels in this series, and I'm looking forward to reading more about this strong, emotive heroine and her interesting zodiac colleagues.
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