BOOK REVIEW: The Shadow of All Things

The Shadow of All Things by Allen Houston

Evelyn rides the subway home in New York when a group of strange things invades her car. These time stopping shape-shifters are Elyuum, and they’re introduced as being scary as hell. Evelyn is saved by Redmond, an apparent homeless bum that’s more than he seems. Redmond tells Evelyn about the interdimensional Elyuum, which have invaded New York and are intent on controlling it. Also, the Elyuum kill seers like Evelyn.

The books splits into several more POVs, which helps build the threat of the Elyuum and make their version of world-domination convincing. The Elyuum and their minions are everywhere, bribing everyone from high-level politicians to cops and street gangs. Pharrell wants to be a nurse but is forced to help his brother traffic drugs. Pharrell witnesses the effects of the Elyuum’s drugs and their ability to shape-shift, and he was my favorite character early on in the story. The scenes with Pharrell and Sunny D had real tension and provided nice pops of horror. Neil and Adelaide are at boarding school/prep school, and one of their classmates has been murdered. Neil is a seer, too, and he and Adelaide piece together the mystery of the Elyuum and their whereabouts in New York. I liked the relationship between this pair a lot, and these are the plot lines and perspectives the really move the story.  Adelaide gets extra bonus points for being a fencer.

But like a story with lots and lots of character POVs, it does go overboard and drain the tension in certain spots. There’s a wholly unnecessary gangster plot that should’ve gotten introduced in book #2 or had a better payoff in this book. The side plots slowed the story towards the end, and they started to feel more like padding than the actual story. That was a let down because the main plot was really cool, but it’s like Houston didn’t want to give any major action (only teasers) in this story. It needed more of an awesome climax.

The world building is great. There’s the feeling of living in New York, of being part of a huge city. The slow, meandering moments cement this city-living feel. Evelyn, Neil, Redmond, Pharrell, and Adelaide feel like they belong in New York–like they are New York. Even if you’re a bit of a big city claustrophobic like I am, the feeling of living with the mass of humanity, integrated into a world with so many different people, comes across in the way this story is told.

Rating: 4 stars. The book slows towards the end, which leaves it ultimately hanging in a weird spot. I understand that it’s an ongoing series, but I wanted a little bit more real resolution. Still, that didn’t take away from the characters and world building.

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