Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4391-5679-7
Shadow Blade is the first book in Seressia Glass’s urban fantasy series called Shadowchasers. This one combines Egyptian and some African mythological elements into a surprisingly coherent and vivid setting, but unfortunately, the whole thing is like an effort by someone who is schooled in the worst techniques possible when it comes to writing an arresting story of this nature.
But let’s first talk about the story. We have Kira Solomon, a Shadowchaser who has special abilities from birth. Feared and shunned by her adopted families until she finally found a place that she belonged in the Gilead Commission, she trained to become an action hero Chaser who will take down the Fallen, the forces of Chaos and Darkness. In this story, Kira is given a powerful blade by her mentor and friend, who is subsequently murdered. Not only are Seeker Demons, Shadow Adepts, and Shadow Avatars after her blade, the owner of the blade wants it back too. The owner is Khefar, a 4,000-year old former warlord who was made to atone for his sins by having to save a number of lives equaling to those he had killed. He’s cute, naturally.
As you can probably guess just from reading the above paragraph, there are jargons everywhere in this story. Every other noun and verb begins with a capital letter – Normal, Avatar, Vortex, Chaos, Shadow, Lightblade, Shadowchaser, Shadow Adept, Seeker Demon, Darkness, Fallen, and Veil are just the few I can bring myself to remember. If I add in names of places and characters as well as brand names, the end result is a story with so many capital letters everywhere I look. And I really, really don’t like to look at paragraphs full of capital letters, ugh. Then there is the problem of the author throwing so many jargons at me before I can process and infer the meaning of those words. There are so many Words That Begin with Capital Letters along with characters trotted out in the first 100 pages that a part of me starts to worry whether I should be taking down notes.
A glossary could have helped with the jargon overload, but even then, there has to be a better way of introducing a reader to the concepts of this world without the author throwing so many things at the reader in such a short time.
But there is one bigger problem with this story: the characters talk too much. This is an urban fantasy with Seeker Demons, Shadow Avatars, and whatever, but pretty much eight-tenth of this story is just our characters talking. Characters who know each other well will still tell each other things that they should both already know – a clear ploy to allow readers to catch up on things. Not only that, there is plenty of information dumping. Kira and Khefar psychoanalyze and examine each other’s past with leisure. Where are the action scenes? The villain is so much into the background for the most part, the end result is a story with no build-up and no clear direction, just plenty of babbling all around.
And in those few action scenes there are, brief ones crammed in the late leg of the story, Kira bruises, blacks out, and gets poisoned way too easily for someone who is described as one of the most lethal Chasers in existence. How lucky for her that Khefar is always near to save her from a dire fate. Not that I expect Kira to be so powerful that she only has to breathe to kick people’s rear ends, mind you. I just wish that the author had been more reserved when it comes to exaggerating Kira’s supposedly awesome abilities in this story, because when it’s time to walk the walk, Kira can’t really deliver.
The abundance of babbling, the lack of urgency or even direction in the story, and the jargon overload all contribute to plague me with dire boredom as I struggle to finish this story. I really hope the next book isn’t as direly slow and talk-heavy like this one, or the series could end up giving me rigor mortis before my time.