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Top customer reviews
There are others like her who can see the shadows when she used to think she was the only one. The people who take her in know about the shadows' weaknesses. There is a way to fight, trap, and even kill them. And where the shadows originate from and their goals in regards to humans are quite interesting.
This horror-paranormal novel is fast-paced, dark, and compelling. I've read the authors' other works, which are milder, so the level of darkness in this novel was a nice surprise. The shadow creatures are super creepy, while Leah is a character you want to cheer for. I wanted her and her friends to make it out okay in their battle.
We start with Leah, or rather, Leah's family, who has just been murdered. And if that weren't enough, Leah knows what did it - the Shadows.
She's seen these things since she was a little girl, and they terrify her. But no one believes her; including her now deceased parents. So she runs, sure that she'll probably be blamed for her parents' deaths.
It's never quite explained (or maybe I missed it) if Leah's parents were targeted specifically, or whether they got caught in the crossfire of the Shadows trying to kill Leah. She's Special, in that she can see the creatures (again, not explained why or how, but chalked up to her Special-ness). Through happenstance or Fate or some otherworldly influence, she ends up with the family of Manuel, a like-minded individual who can also see the Shadows.
There she meets hunky Adam who has been working with Manuel to try and kill the sonsofbitches. His little sister Emily was driven crazy by them, and Manuel's family was also killed by them. Even his mother, Nana, can see them, but chooses not to. So they become a little crew of demon hunters, though it was different to see no one having answers and everyone fumbling their way through. No Giles in this motley crew.
Unfortunately, the big monster reveal turned out to be a little...meh for me, and I think it's more because I expected everything to be supernatural, that the fact they were (SPOILER ALERT) aliens kind of felt like a let-down? And when they started teaming up with the good aliens to defeat the bad aliens, it took it out of the breathless suspense and into the bright light. Kind of like in Signs, where you were freaking out the whole movie about these god-damned aliens, but when you saw them, they weren't so bad.
I think that's more a testament to Houston's incredible writing chops than anything. The first part of the book was just so on point that just a "well done" back half seemed missing that suspense. And the HEA that happened at the end needed more to it. There was so much damage in the wake of the final battle, and I felt like we needed more time to spend on it.
What I can't say enough about is Houston's voice. I just LOOOOOOOOOVED her voice, it resonated with me, it made me laugh and root for our protagonist. And - most importantly - it made me so super stoked that I have all of her other books on my to-read list. I may have to add her to my ABFF list of people I stalk am friends with.
Highly recommend An Absence of Light to all my YA science fiction fan. Four stars.
Leah’s extraordinary gifts are not enough to save her family. Nor are they enough to keep her from being implicated in their deaths, and ultimately driven towards a fateful confrontation that will determine the destiny of the entire human race.
What she sees—what she senses, can even talk to—are “Shadows.”
They live among us, but they are not native. They know all about Leah, and her gifts. They do not wish to kill her—not yet, anyway. Because they need answers, too.
This is the stage upon which AN ABSENCE OF LIGHT, by Meradeth Houston, is set. To give away any more secrets (as the cliché goes) would be a crime. Suffice it to say, O Reader, when you crack back the cover and unveil the first page, you’d better be ready to GO—because you’ve just embarked upon a science fiction-horror novel that hits the pavement like a stolen BMW with back tires squealing, leaving blackened, shadowy tread marks over your unsuspecting brain and heart.
Keeping the “secrets” sacred, however, I will tell you this: You will accompany Leah to a sanctuary, in the form of a gas station, where she will make new friends—and something like family—even as she learns how to battle the evils that ruined her earlier life. Here, she may even fall in love again, if only for a moment.
And you’ll fall in love with Leah, but not because she is perfect. Far from it, she’s actually moody, often snippy, and at times indecisive. But people confide in her, and she never betrays—even when it might be in her best interests to do so. She tells the truth, at least as she sees it. In a word, she’s decent, and the reader roots for her.
This book is rife with desperate action. Just when you feel like you might get a break from it—after an especially tender scene, for instance, or even following the book’s essential set-piece climax—a new complication arises. Yet, there is a resolution. AN ABSENCE OF LIGHT is a story unto itself, while at the same time leaving the possibility that there may be more of this story for Ms. Houston to tell.
If so, Houston, we don’t have a problem.