Ever pick up a book, think the cover looks kind of cool, only to turn to the back to read the synopsis and go…”eh, sounds like it may be ok” but you’re afraid it may fall flat? That’s how I originally felt about Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan. But, I’m proud to report, I. Was. WRONG. I do so love it when a book surprises me like that *G*.
Spread throughout the dark corners of our world lies the Shadow World, a society of vampires that feeds off the living. In Austin, Texas, one woman’s madness will drive her into a world that few people ever see – or even know exists…
Shortly after she picked up a guitar, Miranda Grey conquered the Austin music scene with a newfound ability to psychically manipulate her audience’s emotions. But as her powers outgrow her control, her mind is increasingly invaded by haunting secrets and overwhelming sadness. Unable to look anyone in the eye, Miranda is fast approaching the edge of insanity – with no one to catch her fall…
When he outlawed killing humans, David Solomon ignited a civil war among Austin’s vampires. As Prime of the South, his sympathy for mortals angered the old guard who refuse to control their violent urges. David has his hands full with the growing insurgency, but he takes in a broken-down woman, a musician in need of supernatural guidance. Little does he know that Miranda Grey has the power to change his world as well…
I loved Miranda. When you first meet her, you don’t have any idea what is going on, but you know she’s special. At the beginning, Miranda is literally being driven insane and into a hermit by her extraordinary gift of being a high level empath. Only, Miranda doesn’t really understand what that is or who she is and how to control it. Now, without giving away a spoiler, I will warn you that an event in this book, what Miranda suffers early on, could be disturbing to some readers. But, without it, she wouldn’t have ended up who and what she becomes in the end. Really, that blurb on the back does not due Miranda justice…at all. She is actually really strong, stronger than even she knows (though David picks up on it very quickly). Miranda is much much more than a survivor or a strong empath and she is destined to become great.
David is the Lord Prime of the South (US) in Sylvan’s Shadow World; vampires are split into regions across the world, almost similar to Rachel Vincent’s Shifter series, for those of you who’ve read it. He stumbles across Miranda one night as she’s buying groceries at a convenience store (who knew vampire like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream hehe?). He’s intrigued and goes to watch her sing one night. Then, he finds her after “it” happens and takes her in and takes care of her while she heals. David didn’t become the Prime because he has a soft heart…in fact he can be pretty ruthless when it is necessary. But, something about Miranda softens him. He is all alpha male…unless he’s dealing with Miranda. Then, he finds himself listening, wanting to not only protect her, but wants her trust…and more. Only, he’s too stubborn for a while to admit it. Heh, yeah that works out about as well as you’d imagine, but still, it’s fun to watch the evolution.
A lot takes place in Queen of Shadows. Since it is the first book in a new series, there is a lot of world building involved. As mentioned, our hero is the leader of what is best described as a region/state of vampires in the Southern US. In addition to caring for and training Miranda how to use her gift after a tragic event, David must figure out who is attacking David’s Elite guard. The Elite could best be described as similar to Secret Service/FBI. Some are assigned to David’s bodyguard, others are like law enforcement for the vampire world. Someone or some group is attacking Elite guards in an attempt to bring back the “old ways”–the ability to kill humans during feeding, something which David has outlawed in his territory. All the events lead up to a fantastic ending that will leave you going back to the bookstore to pick up the second book, Shadowflame. You learn the who and the why behind the attacks as well as what Miranda is destined to become.
All in all, I really enjoyed Queen of Shadows. The world building by Ms. Sylvan is fantastic, the pacing was pretty good (it can be hard to keep my attention and there were a few spots I skimmed over to get back to the action) and is well written. In fact, once I put it down, I had to pick up the sequel Shadowflame. If you like UF, you should add it to your TBR list.
Queen of Shadows
Shadow’s Fall (March, 2012)