Book Review: Shadows

review-cover-shadowsTitle: Shadows [The Rephaim 1]

Author: Paula Weston

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Urban

Rating: 4 stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It’s almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant. It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn.

And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams—he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense. Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth—and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares.

Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly, who can she trust?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, when I first picked up Shadows by Paula Weston, I wasn’t sure I liked it. It’s hard to put my finger on the exact problem, but I think some of it had to do with the slow start and the author’s penchant for over description. I’m not saying the description is bad, but there comes a point when it can be distracting, and I feel like the story hovered right on the border of having too much when I first delved into the story.

Luckily, things improved.

From a technical standpoint, and other than the over-description, the book was pretty flawlessly written. There were one or two typos (an incorrect word, a missing space), but nothing too jarring, and certainly nothing distracting enough to pull me from the story for more than a split second. Though the book started off a little slow, the narrative hit a nice pace after the first few chapters and stayed steady throughout. I didn’t feel rushed or bogged down. I did have some difficulty with the language, but that could be attributed to the book taking place in Australia, rather than America like I’m used to. There were times I didn’t understand the slang, and it took me a little while to catch on that the book was taking place in another country, but once I figured it out, things went smoothly. Most of the time I could guess, or skip over the slang that I didn’t understand, and it didn’t cause me any problems with the story—though I did get to learn a few new words!

As for the characters and the plot? I loved them. The story was interesting, the characters were dynamic and well fleshed out, and the questions the author presented for both the main character, Gaby, and the reader, kept me reading. I desperately wanted to understand what was happening, just as Gaby was, and I was equally wary and stunned as she figured out the answers. I loved every minute of it!

Now, other than the over-describing of the beginning, there was one other aspect that did give me pause: the story is familiar. Nephilim, demon hunters.. sanctuary in churches—excuse me, monastery… this isn’t a fresh story. There’re a million and one YA Paranormal Fantasy books with the same theme, which is fine, but it was a bit uncomfortably similar to a particular series that was noted in the book’s synopsis across the internet (I’ve left it out here) in several ways—including sharing an enamored, but somewhat geeky kid named Simon. I’m not saying this was a clone. It wasn’t—at all, believe me… there were so many differences that made this clearly unique!—but these details and the author’s note in the description recommending it to fans of that particular series didn’t go unnoticed.

That being said, I honestly loved the book. Had it not been the niggling little details about the familiarity and the slow beginning, this would have gotten a resounding five stars. I truly enjoyed the book, and I’m very excited to read on in the series (I’ve already purchased the second and third books!)

If you love YA paranormal urban fantasy that deals heavily with angels, demons, Nephilim, and super-power-like abilities, you’re probably going to love this book, and I’d be happy to recommend it. If you’re a fan of similar series, try to keep an open mind, though similar, this is definitely something new, and you’ll probably enjoy it every bit as much as I did.

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