I was a bit skeptical when I first held Phantom Shadows by Dianne Duvall in my hands. The previous book, Night Reigns, was pretty good but I had a few small issues with some of the things that happened. I don’t know if Phantom Shadows is just that much better or what, but I totally loved this book. It has tons of adventure, sprinkles of mystery, a dash of romance and most importantly vampires.
Dr. Melanie Lipton is no stranger to the supernatural. She knows immortals better than they know themselves, right down to their stubborn little genes. So although a handsome rogue immortal seems suspicious to her colleagues, Sebastien Newcombe intrigues Melanie. His history is checkered, his scars are impressive, and his ideas are daring. But it’s not his ideas that have Melanie fighting off surges of desire. . .
Bastien is used to being the bad guy. In fact, he can’t remember the last time he had an ally he could trust. But Melanie is different–and under her calm, professional exterior he senses a passion beyond anything in his centuries of experience. Giving in to temptation is out of the question–he can’t put her in danger. But she isn’t asking him. . .
Just so you know, the synopsis is NOT all what Phantom Shadows is about. It’s like describing the way a hot fudge sundae looks, without bothering to describe the way it tastes. This book isn’t just about Bastian and Melanie falling in love. There’s adventure, mystery, vampire parlor tricks, humor, etc. It’s packed full of cool scenes, situations and characters. Trust me, Phantom Shadows is not just a romance, but something an urban fantasy reader would also enjoy.
To give you a quick rundown, vampires in Ms. Duvall’s world are completely different than vampires you are used to. It’s a virus that deteriorates the brain turning them into insane, murdering monsters. The Immortal Guardians are gifted ones, people with different markers in their DNA causing them to have special powers, who have caught the same virus except it doesn’t make them crazy; it just transforms them into lean, mean fighting machines. Immortals hunt and destroy vampires, while trying to find a cure for them. There’s also a bad guy out there trying to hunt them down to study them. Now that you are caught up.
Working with the Immortal Guardians to find this cure is Dr. Melanie Lipton, who is a human. She is not judgmental or prejudicial, she’s calm and thinks things through. This is huge considering the people she works for can hold on to grudges–all completely unnecessary– for dear life and most act before they think . She sees the good in Bastian, when no one else does. She also sees the good in the vampires they have in custody, who the doctors are studying in hopes of finding a cure. She treats them with kindness and they attach themselves to her, trusting no one else. Basically, everyone who comes across her, falls in love with her, including me.
Bastian is one of those characters that you either love or hate. He is a smart ass, with an ornery sense of humor who doesn’t know how to play nicely with others. Which is why most of the Immortal Guardians don’t trust him, even those who can read minds are leery of him. Of course it doesn’t help that he kicked all their butts in the last book and he doesn’t try to prove their opinion of him wrong. So there’s this on going misunderstanding between him and most of the Immortals. I happen to enjoy characters like this, as long as they are good guys at heart which Bastian is, because they light up the pages making the story fun and come to life.
Him and his makes vampires pee their pants ferociousness and her kind and generous treatment, make for a very cute, yet dangerous, love story. Being in the middle of escaping the villain, there’s wasn’t a lot of focus on them becoming a couple. That’s not to say there isn’t any or very little romance or lovey dovey scenes, there are plenty; it’s just that they go from being romantic to running to fighting to kissing then back to fighting, over and over the entire book. Their relationship does take off somewhat quickly. The romance is head to head with the action/adventure, so the characters aren’t sitting around getting to know each other. While this would normally bug me, it didn’t bother me as much because these two had met before Phantom Shadows, so it’s not one of those Day 1 – meet, Day 3 – are a happy couple, kind of things (I want to see them fall in love, and when it happens over a couple days it’s not as believable for me, ya know?). They do go from cordial associates to being an item, but with the back and forth fighting and the occasional downtime romantic moments, them coming together is a bit of a rush.
Honestly I enjoyed all of the characters, and let me just say there is a huge cast at times. One scene mentions something like 21 people! Since I read Night Reins last year, and read a whole bunch of books since, I have forgotten a lot about these characters. But that’s ok, because I got to know them again, and not only are they funny and tough as nails, they are kind and completely lovable.
Phantom Shadows has all I want/need for a vampire novel. The plot was simple: good guy is trying to save the world, bad guy is trying to find the good guy by whatever means, dissect and torture everyone he can, and reap the benefits of his “find”. It’s a crazy ride of near misses, people getting seriously hurt, and the Immortals reminding the bad guys that you don’t mess with them and come out alive, all the while a romance is building. And the ending!! Holy smokes, friend, it’s a cliff hanger. If I had to come up with a complaint, it would be that it was fast paced with tons of things going on all at once. But this is one of those books that if you took out some of the action and added in more romance, it wouldn’t be as exciting. If you took out the romance, it wouldn’t be as exciting either. I enjoyed Melanie and Bastian separately, and together I do wish there had been more growth between them, but I also enjoyed the action and all the fighting. So, I can’t really call that a complaint, it’s more of a heads up not to expect a lot of making out, it’s more kissing on the run.
To say I am now a fan of this series, is an understatement. I loved Phantom Shadows by Dianne Duvall! The action took my breath away and the romance made me all gooey inside. The ending has me pacing around my house like a tiger in a cage; I want to know what is going to happen next!
Reviews for the Immortal Guardians: