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The Scent of Shadows (Sign of the Zodiac, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – February 27, 2007

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager (February 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060898917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060898915
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,207,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite its romance pedigree (Kim Harrison and Charlaine Harris contribute advance praise), this moody, fast-paced debut falls into the growing "dark fantasy" category, which blends fantasy, comic book superheroism and paranormal romance, but holds no promise of a happily-ever-after. The book's heroine, Joanna Archer, has spent the years following a brutal attack learning martial arts and trolling Sin City, Nev., for trouble. On the eve of her 25th birthday, she finds it in the form of a peculiar date who looks like a gaunt banker one moment and like hell spawn the next. Joanna fights her way out of his grasp, but her close encounter is only the beginning. Before long, she finds herself caught up in a world where a superhuman few—the Light—fight evil from the Shadow realm, a world in which she's recognized as the "Kairos," a prophesied warrior made up of both Shadow and Light who's destined to help Light prevail. Pettersson centers her story around the signs of the Zodiac, putting an imaginative spin on a familiar setup. Though graphic scenes (in which tongues are severed, heads ripped off, etc.) will repel some readers, others will embrace Pettersson's enduring, tough-as-nails heroine and anticipate gleefully the next volume, due in April. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“The Scent of Shadows came out of nowhere and slapped me silly. … You’re going to love this.” (Kim Harrison)

“...Read at your own risk —it’ll keep you up past your bedtime.” (Charlaine Harris)

More About the Author

Vicki Pettersson is the New York Times bestselling author of the 'Signs of the Zodiac' series, which features reluctant superhero, Joanna Archer, and is set in her hometown of Las Vegas.

Her Celestial Blues 'para-noir' series features a P.I/angel from the 50's who pairs up with a modern-day rockabilly reporter. Together, they fight crime. Those books are The Taken, The Lost, and The Given (out in 2014).

Though she'll always consider Sin City her home, she now divides her time between Vegas and Dallas, Texas, where she's learning to like good Tex-Mex (easy) and the Dallas Cowboys (easier than you'd think).

For more information on Vicki's books, please visit:

Customer Reviews

This book was full of twists and turns, action, laughter, and just plain great story telling.
I did really like the characters and the idea behind it but I felt too confused while reading it to want to continue with the series.
I read this book originally when it was first released and enjoyed it enough to buy one other in the series.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By E. Hodgson on May 15, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked up this Kindle download because it was free and it sounded interesting. When I was finished reading it I searched out the next three books in the series and bought them, which shows that giving away a free book can really lead to MORE sales for the author and is excellent advertising.

The story isn't exactly fresh and original. If you've read urban fantasy you have seen the underlying themes explored in this book dozens of times. But the execution of the book, the writing and storytelling are well-done and engaging. If not exactly a new take on urban fantasy as a genre, it's at least an excellent example of it. You have your standard kick-ass heroine with super-powers, big baddies who are her nemeses, a world that exists alongside but hidden from the real world, and lots of angst. I really enjoyed the book and felt engaged enough to pay to read the continuing series, and I feel that is a glowing recommendation in itself.

The world-building didn't work terribly well for me. The story is told first-person from the heroine's point of view, and since she is thrust all unaware into the world of the Zodiac the reader is as well. Joanna has no idea what is going on half the time and information is doled out to her (and the reader) in dribs and drabs. I can't think of a good way for the author to avoid this other than an info-dump due to the constraints of the narration being from Joanna's point of view. Perhaps it is intentional, a way to build suspense and keep the reader guessing along with Joanna as to exactly what's up with the Zodiac and how it works.

The dialog felt natural and the characterizations felt real. Though it is an ongoing series, this book has a satisfying ending that doesn't force you to continue reading the series unless, like me, you really enjoyed it and wanted to continue reading about The Archer's adventures.

Kindle formatting was good.
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85 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Christina Ravens Bridges on March 3, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book at a bookstore, not knowing what to expect. It sounded interesting, but the back cover didn't really tell you what it was all about...girl gets abused, girl gets angry, girl hunts the night.

This book is much more than that, much more ambitious. While the ideas are big, if a little on the hackneyed side, the writing is so-so. I've read romances, and am not hostile to them; I've read fantasy, sci-fi, dark fiction, and this was a mix of all but not enough of any. The romance bits felt uncomfortable and stiff, the fantasy felt like a retread, and there were some chick-lit moments that made me wonder why I was still reading.

And that's it. I was still reading, even though I could see the flaws. In spite of what feels like an overwritten first novel, the ideas and characters were intriguing enough that I still wanted to finish. And I did, in one day, sitting in the bath. Even as I huffed and muttered I needed to know what happened next.

Best book ever? No. But a good book for the bath or beach or when you want a relatively easy read with dark undertones. I haven't decided if I'll read the next one yet.
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58 of 69 people found the following review helpful By SciFiChick VINE VOICE on February 27, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Joanna has grown up living the high life in Las Vegas. But she's had a troubled past and an even scarier future. Whether she likes it or not, Joanna finds herself in the middle of a war of super-powered beings. And if she makes it to her 25th birthday, she'll become one of them. The war is between the superheroes called the Light, comprised of people from the different star signs of the zodiac, and the Shadow, their evil opposites in the spectrum. Half Light and Half Shadow, no one truly trusts Joanna. She doesn't even trust herself.

While there are aspects of romance, Joanna faces more heartache than happiness. Pettersson weaves several elements from different genres: urban fantasy, violence, intrigue, superheroes, and myth. Pettersson has created an incredibly fun character in Joanna with many facets and layers to her personality.

This dark and edgy superhero story was a long novel at 464 pages. But I read it amazingly fast, as I literally couldn't put it down. I'm itching to get my hands on the next in the series that, thankfully, comes out in just a little over a month!
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Laura C. Hohman on April 18, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Honestly, I enjoyed the first hundred pages or so and thought it had great promise. Then the major plot flaws started popping up. Top secret information available in the form of a comic book? Hiding the main character's identity through major (whole body) plastic surgery? And why couldn't the bad guys figure out her identity? Seemed like it could have been figured out with some basic logic. The Zodiac? A bunch of fools. I'm rooting for the bad guys this time - or I would be if I planned to keep reading.

By the way, this has the distinction of being the only book that I've ever given up on with only 30 pages to go. I just couldn't make myself care enough to finish.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Freeman on May 17, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wasn't expecting much but it was free and I was in need of some light reading. I was pleasantly surprised to find it much better then I had anticipated. I liked the heroine's sarcastic banter and the dialogue between characters was believable. The story was intriguing and it very successfully rode a line between very dark and oftentimes funny.

Except for the protagonist, there wasn't a lot of character development but since it was written in the first person by her that is understandable.

All in all it was an enjoyable tale and now I am off to buy the second in the series.
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