Book Review: Shadow Bound (Kellison)

June 2, 2010

*ARC Alert*

Shadow Bound will be released June 29, 2010 by Dorchester Publishers (Mass Market Paperback, $7.99 on Amazon). It is Erin Kellison’s debut novel.

Twenty-six years ago, the spirit called Shadowman fell in love with an ailing woman who lived only long enough to bring his daughter into the world. Six years ago, Adam Thorne’s brother used monstrously inhuman abilities to murder his parents. The events seemed unrelated from the outside. But when Adam, now head of the Segue Institute founded for the study of wraiths like his brother, goes looking for Talia O’Brien, expert on near-death experiences, he finds that the young anthropology PhD is something wholly outside of human or monster. She, too, has been affected by the growing menace of the wraiths, but this can’t account for her ability to wrap darkness around herself like a cloak and sense the thoughts of others through touch. Adam had wanted her for her expertise, but she might just be the weapon that he needs.

I picked this book out to read because I love the idea of Talia’s heritage and the powers she inherited from it, and for the first half of the book or so I immersed myself happily in Kellison’s rich descriptive pose and driven characters. Talia and Adam were both decently-developed, and carried most of the story without too much help from side characters. I liked them each well enough alone, until they started getting to know each other.

Almost as soon as they were in a room together and conscious, the two had the hots for each other. Well, okay, they’re both attractive adults– they’re allowed. What bugged me was the fact that this instant desire didn’t abate at all for the entire book and kept cropping up at inappropriate moments. Talia is complaining about having to save Adam’s ass? I don’t need to hear that it is a very fine ass indeed right that second. It also seemed somewhat improbable that Talia would be a powerful supernatural being, incredibly hot, and a doctor– this wasn’t a huge issue, but maybe Kellison should have picked two out of the three. I wouldn’t have minded if Talia was only decently attractive, since that would have made more sense in regards to the fact that she seems completely unaware of her own magnetism.

For all that they found each other so attractive that they couldn’t concentrate on much else without mentioning it from time to time, the pair had a lot of issues to iron out. It seemed like every time they bonded over something, they would instantly find a reason to shut each other out and feel bad about it, and themselves. For the most part these were reasonable things to have problems with, but they were repeated ad nauseam in a way that made me feel as if the entire relationship was a step forward and a step back over and over. This pretty much sums up my problem with Shadow Bound— it’s a great premise with suitably scary villains and a good high-stakes quest, but little flaws in and between the characters become progressively more irritating as time goes on and make it harder and harder to enjoy the book. By the end, I wanted to take Talia, Adam, and their ill-timed sexual urges and dump them all in a lake.

My last, smallest complaint– and this much I admit is me being a literary snob –is the fact that the author on several occasions drew connections between Talia and “Sleeping Beauty”. This was barely connected to the plot at all, and was more of a side note for interest, and the earliest version of “Sleeping Beauty” that I know of is called “Sun, Moon, and Talia.” However, the casual way in which Kellison mentioned this makes me think she’s never read “Talia,” as the story itself is one of the most morally perverted pieces of folklore I’ve ever read. If you want to see what I’m talking about and don’t mind a little gouge-your-eyes-out fairy-tale fun, you can read it here.

My final word on Shadow Bound: pick it up for an interesting mix of dark fantasy and modern fairy-tale, but only if you don’t mind a few character flaws that really should have been ironed out.

This book contains explicit sexual content.

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