Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Mass Market Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: Signet Eclipse (Penguin Group)
Release date: December 6, 2011
Series: Shaede Assassin #1
Reviewed by: Stéphanie
Source: Personal Shelf
In the shadows of the night, Darian has lived alone for almost a century. Made and abandoned by her former love, Darian is the last of her kind – an immortal Shaede who can slip into darkness as easily as breathing. With no one else to rely on, she has taught herself how to survive, using her unique skills to become a deadly assassin.
When Darian's next mark turns out to be Xander Peck, King of the Shaede Nation, her whole worldview is thrown into question. Darian begins to wonder if she's taken on more than her conscience will allow. But a good assassin never leaves a job unfinished...
This is the kind of urban fantasy that I love to read. It contained everything an urban fantasy should have: lots of action, a kick ass heroine, romance, a horde of supernatural beings and loads of drama! It’s exactly what I was in the mood for, and Amanda Bonilla delivered it perfectly.
In this first book of the series, we are introduced to the world of Shaedes through Darian’s eyes, who, for a century, thought she was the only Shaede in existence. She even thought she was the only supernatural being in existence. Boy, was she wrong! Shaedes are an original concept, beings that look like humans (if not more attractive) and can shift into shadows during nighttime as a mean of transportation or a tricky way to avoid a blow during a fight. They are, however, confined to their physical body during the day. They are also more or less immortal with fast healing abilities and strong physical and battle skills.
Darian’s life takes a turn when she is hired to assassinate Xander Peck. Knowing nothing about other Shaedes, she didn’t realize she had been hired to kill the King of Shaedes himself. With time and coaxing, Darian finally learns a little bit more about Shaedes. Almost all of them are born as Shaedes, and not made as Darian was. They are also sworn enemies of the Lyhtans, ugly creatures who can become invisible during the day but are confined to their ugly physical body during nighttime. And of course, we learn that there is something special about Darian, something that makes her so unique that prophecies have mentioned her in passing.
I must admit that Darian is very self-sufficient, teaching herself the ways of the world. But she does come off as a bit naïve and irrational. She is constantly trying to be a tough girl and not show any emotions. After learning she escaped a human life of beatings from her abusive husband by becoming a Shaede, to just be abandoned by her “maker,” we realize why she avoids human contact and simply observes instead of taking part in the world. Emotionally, she has been broken for almost a century, and I was glad to finally see her admit her love for someone. I’m not going to say who and spoil anything, but let’s just say I’m a big fan of the match. Actually, Darian has a few love interests in this book, which keeps things interesting. I’m usually not a big fan of love interests who meet before the beginning of the book, like in Shaedes of Gray. I find it hard to comprehend the existing chemistry between two characters when we know so little about their relationship and history. To me, it’s almost like butting into a conversation, right in the middle, and not knowing what other people are talking about. It doesn’t make a big difference in this case however, since I was able to look passed this pet peeve of mine and still enjoy the flirting and the romance.
Besides the originality of the Shaedes and the other supernatural beings, I also really enjoyed the setting of this story. Set in Seattle as we know it, humans are unaware of the happenings of the supernatural world. Seattle just seems like the perfect place because of Darian’s affinity to shadows and the grey world. I also really enjoyed the idea of a Supernatural Summit, assembling ambassadors from every species. I just wished we could have learnt a bit more about this summit and its different species.
Overall, this was a great start to a series. Besides a few scenes that seemed to slow down the flow of the story and the exaggerated amount of kidnappings, I think the writing was perfect. The world building and the mythology was well organized and defined within the story itself. I’m really looking forward to learning what will become of Darian. Amanda Bonilla could have left us with a bigger cliffhanger but I’m glad she didn’t. She didn’t disappoint. (Once you read the final line of the book, you’ll understand what I mean by this.) The next book, Blood Before Sunrise, will be release on July 3rd, 2012.