I picked up Shadow Kin on a whim, not knowing anything about the book or author. I sat down to read the first chapter, and didn’t get up until I was over 100 pages into it. Shadow Kin presents a very engaging twist on an urban fantasy world. Before I can talk about how much I enjoyed the protagonists, let me set up the world.
In this world the baddies belong to the Night World. In the dark that is the Night World we have the head honcho Lucius, who is a vampire that leads the pack. In this world also resides the Beast Kind, Blood Lords, The Trusted (human blood servants) and the Blood Locked. They coexist in a world with the good guys that consist of the humans and those that protect them – the mages, Fae, and the Templar Knights, who help police the world. Peace occurs because of a very fragile treaty that everyone has agreed to.
Enter next our hero and heroine. Lily is a wraith – born to a Fae mother, and having no idea who her father is, she is an outcast that is shunned by society. No other wraiths exist (that anyone knows of) and as a young child she is sold to Lucius. She grows up to be his assassin, since she can turn into a shadow (while in the dark) and slip through walls or other objects. Her current mission is to kill the sunmage, Simon.
Simon, a sunmage is a healer. No matter who is hurt, good or evil beings, he feels the calling to heal. Soaking in the sun to embrace his power, he is a very strong healer. He also has a soft heart for helping people. But his world gets tipped upside down when Lily’s next assassination attempt is to kill him. But with Simon’s sun powers, he is able to trap Lily in sunlight, making it so she can’t turn to shadow, making her job to kill him much more difficult.
Simon is desperate for Lucius to lose power and if he can convince Lily to testify that Lucius wanted her to kill a human healer, that might sway the Fae to act on the treaty.
What this story comes down to is that Simon loves to help those in need. He can’t let Lily pass him by when he notices her stuck in this horrible job with Lucius. He has a bleeding heart. Lily knows no other life, but all of a sudden has this attractive man who is actually talking to her like a human being. But she is so conflicted (and remains conflicted) throughout much of the story. There are big trust issues on both sides. Lily is so hesitant to accept Simon’s help. Being Lucius’s assassin is all she knows, and no one else has ever wanted her. So when Simon asks her to stay with him and to help him bring down the one man that hurts her, yet gives her shelter, it is truly a hard decision for her. What makes it more difficult is that during her time with Lucius, she was forced to drink his blood and now has become somewhat addicted to it. So she wants to break this bond with him, but she almost physically can’t. She wants to be this good, pure person because she is falling in love with Simon, but she feels so tainted by the blood addiction to Lucius.
Meanwhile, Simon wants to bring Lucius down in a political manner, rather than outright killing him, whereas the only method that might work is violence.
What also stands out in this story are the supporting characters. Simon’s brother, Guy is a Templar Knight. We barely touch on these really cool characters that serve under God. Their method is to protect everyone, for the greater good, Doing what it takes, so the majority stays safe. So having to protect a single girl, isn’t necessarily their thing. Guy really stole a lot of the scenes and I think book two is his – and I’m excited! The Fae also abhor Lily, for they don’t understand her power. But with Simon and Guy backing Lily up, they are forced to work with her - bringing in much stress and tension.
As I read this book I had no idea if there would be a HEA at the end or if this was going to take more the urban fantasy route. There ends up being a HEA, and I enjoyed it. Although my one complaint with this book is that I wish their romance was explored a little more. This book only takes place over about a week – and they go from strangers to in love quite quickly. I don’t want to call Simon a beta hero, but I can’t classify him as alpha either. Maybe his quiet, soothing healing moments lends him more to the beta side, but he definitely has that protective, fighting urges when it comes to Lily. It is a unique relationship that just drew me in.
One more thing that threw me out of the story a couple of times – this is told in first person POV for both Lily and Simon. And sometimes it would switch without me realizing it and it took me a second to figure out whose head we were in. It was a little confusing and didn’t allow me to get lost in the book like I wanted to.
As I said, this world and the characters really stand out in this book. I think there is so much we can explore and we have just tipped the iceberg. Fans of urban fantasy need to check this one out. I can’t wait for the next book.