Bell Curran's Reviews > Queen of Shadows

Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan
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Jul 06, 11

bookshelves: vampires

This was a compelling read, and worth picking up if you're a vampire book addict and need your fix, but there were 3 reasons I only gave it 3 stars:

1. Slow and depressing. I suppose this is inevitable when the premise of your book is that a musician whose empathic abilities are slowly turning her mad gets gang raped in an alley. Lashing out, Miranda uses her psychic abilities to kill all her attackers, but not until they've repeatedly raped and beaten her and are planning on killing her. Somehow, it's not even satisfying when she kills them, even though she can see that they've done this to multiple women before her, because she can also see that some of them have wives and kids that they want to live for. I respect the author for not making either the bad guys OR the good guys simplistic and one-dimensional, but the basic premise of madness and gang-rape is depressing.

The slow part comes from the long period of time that she spends recovering, physically and emotionally. A powerful vampire finds her in the alley and takes her to his vampire enclave to recuperate. Eventually they fall in love, but this is slow going and there's not much in the way of sexy time b/c obviously she's traumatised after the rape. I expect urban fantasy to be action packed. This is not action packed until the very end. I guess that the scenes with the powerful vampire rooting out insurgents are semi-action packed, but with UF I want my heroine to be the one seeing action, and while the vampire is running around torturing people, Miranda is at home with a headache. She sleeps all the time. I kept thinking, "Why doesn't someone give her a good book to read?"

2. The head vampire, David, leads other vampires through some powerful glowing stone that chooses both him as leader AND picks his queen through some mystical soulmate-detection technology that I found kind of silly.

3. The action-packed end relied on several unbelievable contortions in order to make for a dramatic, cathartic ending -- but the ending was so dramatic and the contortions so absurd that it was unbelievable and I finished the book with a snort of irritation. Spoiler alert: (view spoiler)

It was the last 40 pages that knocked this down a star for me. There's a limit to my willingness to suspend disbelief, even with vampire books.

I will say, though, that the author is a good writer and her description of Miranda's descent into madness was compelling and believable. Like I said, I admire her unwillingness to make the good guys pure good (she doesn't shy away from showing David's torture methods) or the bad guys pure bad. The description of Miranda's slow recovery from gang rape is slow, but to be fair, I think it's also realistic. You don't recover from that quickly or easily. I guess I just wish I didn't have to be around for the whole recovery. Skip ahead!

In my reviewing system,

1 star is a book I couldn't stand (which is pretty rare as I screen my books carefully) and either I didn't finish it or I really resent wasting my time reading it;

2 stars is a 'meh': I didn't think much of it but I respect what the author is doing and recognise that it is probably to others' tastes;

3 stars means I found it a compelling read but there are key flaws that make it not one of my favourites, and it's not a book that I plan to re-read

4 stars means I really, really liked it and look forward to re-reading it in the future.

5 stars means that there was something about that book that affected me profoundly, made me cry or rethink my system of morals, or it made me re-think books in general. I plan to re-read it again and again and I recommend it to friends. In other words, I don't give a 5-star rating lightly!
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