Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book Review: The Scent of Shadows

The Scent of Shadows (Sign of the Zodiac, Book 1)
Author: Vicki Pettersson
Publisher: Eos
Pages: 464

Summary: When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert. By rights, she should be dead. Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset – a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow – seeking answers to whom or what she really is ... and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.

I bought The Scent of Shadows from Amazon last week after hearing about from some of my favorite authors. I tend to look at books like Christmas gifts. I never sneak peeks. I love being surprised. This said, I also don't like waiting too long for the good stuff. The Scent of Shadows delivers in the first chapter. There isn't an introduction, or a prologue preparing the reader, so we have to figure out things along with Joanna, the main character. The book starts out at a good pace, speeding up as one revelation after another changes Joanna's life. Before I knew it, putting the book down wasn't an option.

The Scent of Shadows is not a romance, it doesn't have a "Happily Ever After" for Joanna. I would call it a dark fantasy with a possibility of a "Happily Ever After" somewhere in the distant future. The characters are often not what they appear to be. As in real life, appearances can be deceiving but in Joanna's world, taking appearances for granted can get you killed.

I don't consider The Scent of Shadows a "quick read" only because it does take a little more thought to fit together the pieces of the puzzle as the plot twists and turns. The characters are not always likable, even when they are the good guys. Joanna, the main character, will not be liked by some readers. She's a complicated person trying to figure out her place in a harsh world. I like her because she's a survivor. She's a quick thinker and she learns from her mistakes. Did I mention she's witty and sarcastic too?

I highly recommend this book to those who like their fantasy dark with fast paced action and characters who never fail to surprise. Vicki Pettersson is a very talented writer, and I am eagerly looking forward to the other books in the series.

You can read an excerpt here: