on October 26, 2000
I'm not usually a fan of Elven lore. The only reason I purchased the book was because it was written by one of my favorite authors, Laurell K. Hamilton. To say that I was pleasantly surprised would be a huge understatement. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, the plot and the characters. I read a lot of what I consider to be unfair reviews comparing Merry to Anita Blake. There is no comparison other than they both like a little ammunition and are women of power. Personally, it would have been a disappointment for me to have a carbon copy of Anita in this book. Merry will grow into her powers and develop in future books just as Anita has had the opportunity to do. With her different background, she is free to do things that would be out of character for Anita. Please be aware, that if you don't enjoy erotica in your stories then this is not the book for you as it goes far beyond what we've seen from the Anita Blake series. However, if you enjoy a good romp and some sexually generated heat then you'll love Merry and her band of characters. My only question is when do we get the next one?
on October 7, 2000
I found "A Kiss of Shadows" the most exhilarating and liberating book I'd read in a long time. LKH's themes and references are complex and sophisticated, and the use of the word "ribald" was an excellent choice by one professional reviewer.
Meredith Gentry is compassionate and warm, clever and vulnerable. This is a quest story, with the narrator seeking to survive politics and find her life path.
The reviews here at Amazon are informative, in that they seem to be by readers who are angry. Either angry that LKH verged into a new series instead of writing Anita Blake books more-better-faster. Or the readers are dismayed at LKH's frankness and Meredith's pleasure in sexuality.
Of course, we don't see reviews at Amazon (or too many other places, since Amie is not a message board) complaining that the violence and action sequences, the crime scenes and the magic, and the blood in the Anita Blake:Vampire Hunter are grotesque and perverse and that reader is never buying another book from the author.
As LKH has said several times in print: "There isn't that much sex in this book."
She is correct. But unsophisticated readers will only notice the erotic elements. (And these are really, really, good.) They might miss the fascinating magic that occurs (entirely different from the Anitaverse), the strong family and loyalty bonds that fill Merry's life, the wit, the Celtic lore that has played out with the Fey living in the USA, the sense of the team at the Grey Detective Agency in LA, the range of diverse characters (not all male) at the Unseelie Court and throughout the novel, plus the Queen of Air and Darkness who is terrifying.
This is an adult book. I mean, it is for anyone who brings their mature, inquiring mind to a novel of speculative fiction. What if everyone around you is immortal? How do they spend eternity? And how precious is life to you (Meredith) as a mortal in their midst?
What would it mean for you if physical pleasure, the life of the senses, a bond with nature, and a search for a mate to awaken your personal magic and link to your fertility were key in your life as a woman?
I highly recommend this book. It is extremely unusual.
on May 15, 2004
Laurell K. Hamilton starts a new series here with the fairies that got a passing mention in Bloody Bones. You neither need to be familiar with that book or the Anita Blake series to start here. But do start here instead of jumping in anywhere or you'll be completely lost.
(Apologies in advance if I keep comparing the 2 series here. I figure most people found this book from the Anita Blake series but certainly not all.)
Merry Gentry (nee NicEssus) is part fey but has been hiding her true identity for 3 years among the humans. She's really a royal princess from a seriously dysfunctional fairy family. Her Aunt is the head of the Unseelie court and wanted Merry dead. For the past 3 years, her family and the tabliod press have been seeking her out. She's been hiding with the aid of glamour spells and making a living at a supernatural detective agency not entirely unlike Anita's Animators Inc.
The story begins much like an Anita story. Some clients come for help, Merry reluctantly assists with the prodding of her boss. A big bad appears, there's a fight, then there's some sex. Then however the story takes an unexpected turn which I won't spoil for you.
As a character, Merry is distinct from Anita Blake and that's a good thing. She's neither as tough nor as sociopathic. She can, however, hold her own as she discovers she's more powerful that she ever suspected. Much like Anita, all men want Meredith but since she's part supernatural being and an heir to the throne this facet of the story doesn't come across as obnoxiously as it does in the Anitaverse. Hamilton also finds a rather clever way to explain why all this lust is essential to the story-again no spoilers. Also, even though Merry is less human than Anita I found her far more accessible. This book is as sexually charged as the latter entries in the Anita series so take that as a caveat emptor if this really, really turned you off. I didn't find it as squirm-worthy though (is that a word?), probably for the reasons I've already described. The pain element and the goblin (don't ask) did however catch me a bit off guard.
Hamilton is still a genius with blending her magical world with ours but the first entry in the series is largely about fey interactions exclusively. The writing is fast-paced and enjoyable. Hamilton is no Steinbeck but she knows how to keep you involved. If you shun fantasy because you feel silly reading about unicorns and elves, this series will definitely appeal. I'm not sure if Hamilton created fantasy noir but she is it's most visible purveyor. I've already got book two which I plan to begin-whaddaya know-as soon as I end this review.
on September 30, 2000
* As an avid fan of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series, I was excited to hear that she was beginning a new series. In reading "A Kiss of Shadows", I have found that Hamilton has once again captured that unique flavor that crosses the genres. A fantasy book set in a modern day United States, it also contains elements of political intrigue, suspense, elemental magic, private investigation, and sexual elements that push the envelope. As readers we are given a glimpse into the social and political world of the faerie court. In much the same way as vampires and lycanthropes are common to the world of Anita Blake, so to are magic and the faerie courts to the world of Meredith 'Merry' NicEssus. * In the person of Meredith, we are presented a woman of strong will, who walks the fine line between human and something else. As we come to discover the environment in which Merry grew up, we can begin to understand what motivates her. Whether it is her interaction with her aunt (Queen of the Unseelie Court), her aunt's personal guard, her cousin Cel, or those around her in Los Angeles, we find that her reactions adjust to the situation around her. * The aspect of "A Kiss of Shadows" that intrigued me the most, was the manner in which it approaches the good/evil aspects of society. What humanity might think of as evil in human society, Merry might view as necessary to have survived her years in the Unseelie Court. Meredith's views on sex are also rather unique. Because of her upbringing, she lacks a certain sense of modesty that extends itself further into her relationship views. * Never to be outdone; Hamilton breathes life and personality into every character in her books. From the heroine to the supporting characters, and in the case of this book, even things and places like 'The Black Coach" and the mounds of the Unseelie Court. Even the diverse races have their own unique feel. * As you enjoy the rollercoaster ride of emotions "A Kiss of Shadows" takes you on, you arrive at the end with an insatiable hunger for more. If I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of this book, I find I can hardly wait for the next book in the series. * Despite all of the enjoyment I got from reading/experiencing "A Kiss of Shadows", I was left with one unanswered question. Does this book take place in the same world as the Anita Blake series, or are the similarities merely cosmetic? Additionally, if both characters (Anita and Meredith) do live in the same world, might we some day have them meeting to overcome a common foe?
on April 1, 2002
I read this book before reading any of Ms. Hamilton's other novels. I wasn't disappointed. It was a bit slow to get into, but once involved, it didn't let me go, and I ended up reading the entire book in one sitting. Merry Gentry is another strong independent heroine, but much more feminine (but no less deadly) than the Anita Blake, the heroine of Ms. Hamilton's hit series. Merry is a sidhe princess in hiding who is forced to come back to her childhood home in order to hear the proposition that her aunt, the queen of the Unseelie court has for her. This series is also much more political than Anita Blake's (yes, there are vampire politics and were politics, but not to this extent). This series is more of a "fairy-tale" than Anita's is, and is therefore, not nearly as dark as Anita's story. Will Merry beat out her cousin Cel for the throne? For if she fails, she will undoubtedly be killed, and all those that are loyal to her as well. This story is a great beginning and I am eagerly awaiting the next installments.
on April 28, 2001
Merry, Merry, quite contrary, How does your new court grow? With silver, black, green, and blue, Lovers lined all in a row!
A Kiss of Shadows is the first book of a really cool, really erotic, really breath-taking series! LKH's unique writing style is quite evident throughout this book. Merry is a lot like Anita: short, pretty, tough, intelligent, possessing some powers that have yet to be discovered. But of course, Merry has a MUCH more interesting sex life than Anita.
Merry Gentry is an awesome character, working at the Grey Detective Agency in Los Angeles: Supernatural Problems, Magical Solutions. However, Princess Meredith NicEssus leads an ABSOLUTELY captivating lifestyle at the Unseelie Court. Especially when Merry's Aunt Andais, Queen of Air of Darkness, wants Merry, and Merry alone, to sleep with the beautiful royal Guards and produce an heir to the Unseelie throne. Now THAT is an extremely interesting proposition. I really like all the hot sidhe characters that LKH introduces, especially Doyle (the Queen's Darkness) and Frost (Killing Frost). Screw the other males in the book (I know Meredith will probably do each of them sooner or later).
MY favorite male in the book is definitely Cel, Andais's son and Meredith's cousin, Prince of the Unseelie Court, heir to the throne (or at least he was before Meredith returned to court) Sure he's cruel, evil, and sadistic, but what can I say? I have a weakness for gorgeous bad guys in black. I would just love to see Cel plotting to kill Meredith again (or bed her). Something tells me that we'll see him many more times to come in the series.
I just totally love this series! Now I don't know which series is better: Anita Blake or Meredith Gentry? Which world is more interesting: vampires or faeries? Who is more powerful: Anita or Merry? Which series has the sexiest men: Jean-Claude (my fave), Asher, Damian, Edward, Richard (hate him), etc, or Cel, Doyle, Frost, Rhys, Galen, etc?
Parallel worlds, parallel characters:
Anita=Merry; Jean-Claude=Doyle; Richard=Roane; Asher=Galen; Bert=Jeremy; Edward=Frost; Jason=Rhys; Gabriel=Cel; Marcus=Barinthus; Raina=Andais; Larry=Kitto; Ronnie=Lucy; Cassandra=Rozenwyn; Catherine=Keelin; Marianne=Teresa; Olaf=Sholto
A Kiss of Shadows is perhaps my favorite book of all time now, knocking out The Killing Dance from the #1 place. I am so so glad that I bought this book, expensive as it may be. Laurell K. Hamilton, you are simply the best!!!
on May 26, 1999
A Kiss of Shadows is Ms. Hamilton's new series. On her web sites they call it the Fey series. The next Anita Blake book will be Obsidian Butterfly, and it is due out in 2000. If you want more info on The Anita Blake books and the Fey books go to it's called the Alpha's Lair and it has a news and rumors page.
on November 3, 2000
I thought the Anita Blake series was damn good, but the Merry Gentry series looks to give it a run for its money!
Merry is actually Princess Meredith NicEssus, the black sheep of the Unseelie court because she is not full-blooded sidhe. Her aunt is the Queen of Air and Darkness and her son is heir, with Meredith next in line. After enduring duel after duel at court, Merry has decided to escape and has spent 3 years in Los Angeles as a detective, with her guard always up against her vile relatives.
Now, however, her cover is blown, and her aunt has sent her men to take Merry back home. Who Merry can trust and who will kill her without a second thought is a very dangerous guessing game, and often, loyalties change in a second.
This is a very gory, very explicit book. If multiple partners bug you, or sex without love bugs you, or if you're squeamish, it may not be for you. If you like tender romance or action without too much gore, there are plenty of other books, but for me, this was one heck of a read. It's powerful and filled with imagination.
The rules of the Unseelie Court can always be bent, usually to the Queen's benefit, but Merry is no fool, and I will certainly be awaiting the next installment in this fabulous series.
on March 15, 2001
Merry Gentry is more than just a beautiful private detective - she's actually the Princess Meredith NicEssus, a mortal faerie half-breed, more famous than Elvis, hiding out in LA, living each day in fear of the wrath of her aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness. Only her "glamour" - the ability to mask her true appearance - keeps her from the threat of immediate abduction to the realm of the fey (a wide variety of magical beings, not the least of which are the immortal sidhe), which lies in the heartland of North America.
Sounds crazy? If you make it even fifteen pages into this book, you'll be hooked. Laurell K. Hamilton (best known for her Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels) has created a whole new world - an alternative modern-day America where humans live in an uneasy coexistence with a baffling array of mystical and powerful creatures. We encounter fascinating and fully-realized characters as complex as any from the Greek pantheon - ruled by their passions, tortured by their weaknesses, and each with his or her own special set of gifts and curses.
Ms. Hamilton's writing is compelling and erotic; her story is well-plotted and filled with believable yet completely inhuman characters. The press releases indicate that A Kiss of Shadows is the first in a new fantasy series, but it's hard to imagine any sequel being as hypnotic and gripping as this debut.
I heartily recommend this book for fans of science fiction who find fantasy "too fakey," as well as for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien who are tired of obvious rip-offs. Once you start reading A Kiss of Shadows, you'll find it hard to put down.
on April 3, 2002
After reading the Anita Blake: Vapire Hunter novels I was somewhat skeptical when the subject material shifted from the Undead to the new topic of faeries. Granted, vampires, werewolves, etc. tend to have the same relative credibility, but faeries are typically given a stigma as being somewhat lighter, diluted content by comparison. My fears were thankfully unfounded. The characters whom Hamilton introduces are complex, three-dimensional, and bursting with conflict. As I had hoped, Hamilton delved into the mythology and fantastical history of the Sidhe legends of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England and achieved a depth of drama and intrigue which matched accordingly. As I said, the characters are complex and the specific court politics, racial prejudices, customs, and perspectives present an even more impressive facet for readers to enjoy. Add to that the constant action, riveting interpersonal relationships, magical phenomena, and the rich fictional history that Hamilton creates -such as the mass exodus from Europe to America by the allowance of Jefferson- and the novel is highly enjoyable. I recommend this book to anyone who has read and enjoyed any of Hamilton's previous works, or even for a first-time Hamilton reader. Her style is unique, intimate, and possessed of stylistic elegeance that is never detracted from by the occassional, um......roughness of her characters. If supernatural thrillers with dashes of vibrant, romantic -and quite frequently borderline erotic- encounters are your cup of tea, curl up with this book; you will not be left wanting.