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Review: Shadow Kin by M.J. Scott

>>Sunday, September 25, 2011

Title: Shadow Kin
Author: M.J. Scott
Series: The Half-Light City #1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 324
Genre: Gaslight Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: September 6th, 2011
Publisher: Roc
Rating: B-

From Goodreads: On one side, the Night World, rules by the Blood Lords and the Beast Kind. On the other, the elusive Fae and the humans, protected by their steadfast mages...

Born a wraith, Lily is a shadow who slips between worlds. Brought up by a Blood Lord and raised to be his assassin, she is little more than a slave. But when Lily meets her match in target Simon DuCaine, the unlikely bond that develops between them threatens to disrupt an already stretched peace in a city on the verge of being torn apart...

Why did I read this book? I really was interested in reading a fantasy that seemed to offer a different kind of world. I was also attracted to the idea of the main character being a wraith.

Source: Publisher, by request.

My Review
This novel opens with Lily, a wraith and assassin to the Blood Lord Lucius, attempting to kill the sunmage Simon DuCaine. She fails, and finds herself flirting with the idea of leaving the Blood Lord's domain, although she feels like she doesn't have much of a choice in the matter. She was abandoned to him by her mother because of her being born a wraith, a creature despised by most of better society. The Blood Lord keeps her captive against her will and she struggles with the choices of leaving him, for fear of her safety and for those who might help her.

This is how the plot is set up. We are also given the world Lily lives in, which was definitely different than I thought it would be. I thought this was a urban fantasy, but it turns out it's more of a gaslight fantasy; it's set in a partly-familiar world, almost Victorian, but contains many magical and paranormal elements like vampires, mages, fae and werewolves. I really enjoyed this surprise and came to really love the world Scott created. All the species that co-exist in the city, including humans, get along through a treaty set up and monitored mainly by the fae. The novel also includes these politics, since the Blood Lord is not abiding by the rules set by the treaties and so he's becoming a bigger and bigger threat, especially to humans. This is a concern of Simon, the sunmage, and also a reason he wants Lily to help him expose the Blood Lord and his crimes.

The things I liked most are the unique world-building (as I mentioned above) but also the romance. I think Simon and Lily have pretty good chemistry and while they were two star-crossed lovers, a wraith and a sunmage, I believed in their romance. I especially liked Simon, he's a sunmage, but also a healer. I thought it was fun that the female was the assassin and the male was a healer, despite the trope of the woman always being a healer in fantasy.

There was a few things I had problems with. First, the novel is in two first person point of views: Lily's and Simon's. While I don' have anything against it personally, I just found I was often confused of who's head we were in and when the point of view changed, I was mildly disoriented. The other problem I had was Lily's weakness towards the Blood Lord and her lack of confidence. I understand she's had a bad past (which was almost a little too contrived in itself) but I would have liked to see her empowered more by the end of it.

Rating: B-
Overall, I really enjoyed this debut from Scott. Scott has created a fascinating society that includes an array of magical creatures and pulls it off expertly. While I had some conflictions with the point of view and the main character, Lily, I was really absorbed in the romance between her and Simon and the politics of the Half-Light City. It's a great gaslight adventure and I look forward to the sequel, Blood Kin, out next year.


  1. Hmmmm, this sounds interesting. How romancy is it though? I prefer when the books are more fantasy than romance (one of my pet peeves with urban fantasy, over high fantasy). Might check this one out soon!

  2. @Cat: Thanks for the comment! I would say it's more fantasy than romance, but there are many scenes dedicated to the relationship between Simon and Lily, and that they often think of each other. The novel still has a pretty good plot that's not romance based.



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