Res's Reviews > The Shadow and the Star

The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale
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's review
Feb 03, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: romance
Recommended to Res by: geekturnedvamp
Read in February, 2009

The Victorian romance where Samuel is a child prostitution survivor and a Hawaiian ninja. I can add nothing to this.

No, actually, I can, because I'm afraid I didn't really care for either of the major characters.

Leda comes across throughout as a little old woman. A conventional little old Victorian woman with a commonplace mind. I sympathized with her plight, yes, but I didn't see anything special about her whatsoever. Samuel apparently knows only two women his age, and the other one might as well be his sister; it's hard not to feel that once he gets out into the world a bit, he'll notice that women are different from one another and wonder why he picked this one.

Samuel is about as damaged as you would expect him to be, and it's sad, because of course he's some years too early to be able to talk to Doctor Freud about his problems, and Victorian culture forbids him to talk to anyone else -- but, rather like Dain in Lord of Scoundrels, he's so very self-involved that my reaction to him tips rather suddenly from woobification to annoyance. By the end of the book, Leda knows all about his past difficulties, but he knows nothing about hers, nor does he ever think to fill her in on what's happening in the present.

In fact, now that I come to think of it, I don't remember Samuel ever taking any interest in anything about anyone except what he needed from them. I'm sure the author didn't intend to create a monster, and since Samuel's needs are emotional rather than mercenary, it doesn't hit you right away, but I'm not actually sure he's aware that others have needs at all.

The other cultures are sensitively handled -- one thing I particularly appreciated was having pidgins clearly labeled as pidgins, rather than presented without explanation so that the speakers of them look like ignoramuses.
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