Bantam, £5.99, ISBN 0-553-81383-8
Fantasy, 2001 (Reissue)
A Kiss of Shadows kicks off Laurell K Hamilton’s new series, set in a world where werecreatures and undead beasties are replaced by faerie creatures (sidhes) and their underlings (sluagh). Into this world comes Merry Gentry, who is actually Princess Meredith NicEssus of the Unseelie Court. She hides in the mortal realm after her aunt, the Queen of the Unseelie Court, tried to kill her. Merry now works as a PI, and a case soon blows her cover, leading every male sidhe/slaugh creature to come out of the shadows to try to have sex with Merry.
Serious, I’m not kidding about the last sentence. Every male in this story has the hots for Merry, from the lowly giant buddy to the tentacled King of the Slaughs (whom, I must confess, I’m quite fond of) to every single male in the Unseelie court. Plot? Plot? What plot? This one has not much of a plot. The case of the Evil Sidhe in the beginning of the story is dropped only to be resolved in a “Oh, you know…” way in the end. The Queen, the mad aunt, turns out quite harmless; all she is, after all, is a misunderstood mommy, the poor thing. She’s understandably miffed that every guy wants to do Merry instead of her.
This could be seen as Merry’s coming (heh heh) of age story, but I have to admit, the author really overplays the sex hand here. When Merry acts as bait for a rapist, she has to be raped, and then she has to be assaulted by a group of horny sex-mad police, first the men, and then some women. When she negotiates with faerie clans, every faerie folk clan king wants to have sex with her, and she has to find ingenious ways to save her virtue for only her guys, which, at last count, come down to around six in number. Merry is collecting groupies the way I collected stamps in my younger days. I am quite envious. And I want her power too, the one where she turns people inside out? That is so cool. And sick, I know, but it’s so cool. Preparing the chicken for dinner won’t be the same again.
Not much direction, no mounting of tension (just lots of Merry mounting), no grand climax (only too many tiny ones), and too many scenes that seem to come from the Anita Blake sex scene reject bin make A Kiss of Shadows a third-rate wannabe. Maybe book two in this series will be better, I don’t know.