Shadow Magic
by Karen Whiddon, paranormal (2003)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52491-0

This book is dull. The writing is flat, the dialogues come from a Stilted Cave People Speak handbook, and the hero mopes and whines like a small baby. Karen Whiddon has some nice ideas but Shadow Magic is a difficult book to read because it is just so dull.

Our Faerie prince hero Egann is guilt-ridden over the death of his brother. Don't worry if you forget this at first, he'll spend nearly the whole story whining incessantly about how he is unworthy of everything because of this. He refuses to lead his people because of this, conveniently overlooking the fact that his people need a leader. Yes, Egann is a selfish dolt who expects the world to stop for him as he sulks in a corner and waits for someone to build him a ladder to get over himself.

There is a Sage Old Man in this story who will pop up at convenient moments as a too-obvious expositionary plot device as well as a deus ex machina fellow. He passes an amulet to Egann for that mopey dope to safeguard until an heir comes along. The amulet sends Egann to a distant place where he and our heroine Deirdre start dreaming of having sex with each other. Or maybe it's not dream sex as much as interplanar sex. Or something. The amulet goes missing, he blames Deirdre for the theft, Deirdre reasonably tells him she's not the thief, and he keeps insisting that she is. Deirdre, of course, finds this guy very, very hot even if he's calling her a thief. Meanwhile, Deirdre is at risk. She's a Shadow Dancer, which means that she dances in moonlight to make the world a happy place, and a group of villains are out to kill these Shadow Dancers. That will teach those doped-up hippie women to dance in skimpy clothes in moonlight. Angry right-wing vigilantes are taking all of them down, bwahahaha!

But egads, this book is so, so boring. Deirdre is an understanding heroine who just wants love and babies. Egann just mopes and whines and moans and groans like an overheated pair of bellows. The two characters have no chemistry and they talk in a way that suggests that Ms Whiddon has been reading Jean M Auel probably a little too much and too often. There are some long separations in this book that only decrese the intensity of an already tepid romance. The chemistry isn't there, the passion is absent, and the pacing is nonexistent. With no build-up of momentum, the story just plods and meanders on towards the last page, with me trying not to fall into a boredom-induced stupor. The author doesn't flesh out her one-dimensional characters and she robotically stomps from Plot Point A to B to C in a manner more appropriate for an educational textbook.

Karen Whiddon will have to really work on her writing style as well as characterization if she wants her next book to be an improvement over Shadow Magic.

Rating: 46

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