REVIEW: Shadows

Shadows by Christi J. Whitney

Shadows picks up at graduation, about 1-2 months after Grey ended. Sebastian graduated, he’s still estranged from his friends and still a gargoyle. I thought we might get a moment where he reveals his secret to Katie early on, but it doesn’t happen. Instead, Sebastian agrees to go back to the Romaney clan. This is clearly trouble.

Do I ever love the brotherly relationship between Hugo and Sebastian. Grey surprised me when it focused on it towards the end without ever letting up on also focusing on the romance with Josephine. It’s nice to see characters who love their family, friends, and have romantic interests. We learn a lot more about the Romaney family in this novel, including their particular family dynamic. The Romaney’s (with Nicholas as bandoleer) are more authoritarian than the Corsi clan, which made me miss the relationships between the Gypsy Ink Corsi’s even more as the novel progressed.

There’s a lot of talk about how Sebastian should accept himself and his gargoyle nature. There’s a lot I don’t know about this. That’s partly because the nature of the Shadowen is kept secret. It seems like a not-so-good idea to me. This plot thread remains unresolved by the end of the story. There’s a narrative split between the acceptance camp and the repression camp, and it’s ultimately not clear which way will solve Sebastian’s problems controlling himself.

Sebastian’s life with the Romaney’s is rough. There are new levels of terrible explored, and when you think it’s not going to get worse, it does. No one likes him, and a big mystery about the nature of the Shadowen develops. One of the gargoyles from Grey returns, but he’s a true, mindless monster now. The fear that Sebastian is going to turn is real. THE FEAR IS REAL. Like in Grey, Shadows pays off the emotional stakes at the end of the story. I suspected Shadows was going to have a downer ending, but that still didn’t prepare me for how angry it made me. I need book 3 right now I’m not okay with my feelings at the end this book.

Josephine got a personality! She’s still a quiet, sometimes ‘too pure’ character, but the rigid family structure of the Romaney clan shaped who she is. She doesn’t have real friends; she’s being groomed for an important role in gypsy society, so she’s carried that responsibility from a young age. She’s a girl who never got to be a child, and she’s clearly repressed a lot of feelings. It’s difficult to empathize with a guarded character because, well, they don’t emote much, but Josephine comes into herself in Shadows. It’s official: I believe in her as a love interest.

The new Romaney clan characters are strong. Zara, Phoebe, and twin Francis, who got some but not a lot of time last book, stand out. There are a lot of effortlessly likable characters in this story. There are also a lot of detestable characters in this story. Quentin wins the most hated character, hands down. I typically don’t like when ‘the other woman/the other man’ is the default bad character, but the twist at the end of the story sold me on Quentin as a villain with his own, particular motives beyond ‘easy love triangle antagonist.’ Augustine makes an appearance again, and while he appeared more of a nuisance in Grey, he’s advanced to the stage of The Chessmaster in Shadows. Augustine has a plan, and while some of it’s clear, most of his secrets remain mysteries. Shadows ends on the biggest of cliff hangers, so don’t expect resolution, even the bitter sweet kind, like in Grey.

Notes:

  • Do I ever love this series. More gargoyles, please.
  • The Marksmen are douchebags. Every time their names show up, I fill with RAGE.
  • Josephine: a real character.
  • I live for Crowning Moments of Heartwarming. I swear, if this book doesn’t deliver, I’ll be sad. I’m afraid we’re going to get The Empire Strikes Back ending. 0_0
  • More flying: a positive.
  • So many open-ended mysteries. In general, good on not focusing the story on them.
  • THAT ENDING. I guessed two of the plot twists (that we’d see a trial and what Augustine’s connection to the Romaneys was), but I was still not prepared.

Rating: 5 stars. Need the next book now. I do like how this series is clearly paranormal yet stays away from some of the more toxic elements of paranormal romance. Sebastian might have a bit of Stockholm syndrome going on, but it’s refreshingly not the girl who’s coerced into the forbidden relationship.

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