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Delia's Shadow Hardcover – September 17, 2013
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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“Moyer creates a hauntingly real San Francisco, full of characters you can't wait to get to know better. Delia's Shadow is an engaging debut novel, one that cost me a good night's sleep.” ―Jim C. Hines, author of Libriomancer
“Like fog creeping in from the Bay, this ghostly, romantic tale of San Francisco past made the outside world disappear and sent shivery tendrils into my soul. A gorgeous and haunting book.” ―Rae Carson, author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns
“Haunting and sweet, Delia's Shadow pulls off the rare feat of combining a thrilling ghost story with a gentle romance.” ―S. C. Butler, author of Reiffen's Choice
About the Author
JAIME LEE MOYER's Delia's Shadow won the 2009 Columbus Literary Award for Fiction. Moyer has sold short fiction to Lone Star Stories, Daily Science Fiction, and to the Triangulations: End of the Rainbow, and Triangulations: Last Contact anthologies, and edited the 2010 Rhysling Award Anthology for the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Moyer lives in San Antonio with writer Marshall Payne, three cats, three guitars, and a growing collection of books and music.
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Also pursuing the case of the serial killer is Police Lieutenant Gabe Ryan who is trying to solve the case his father couldn't solve 30 years earlier. Gabe and Delia meet because his Sargent Jack is engaged to her best friend and foster sister Sadie.
Delia has also returned home because Sadie's mother - the woman who became her guardian when her parents died in the San Francisco earthquake and fire - is dying and she wants to support her friend.
I loved the San Francisco setting. I thought the way the relationship grew between Delia and Gabe was nicely done. I thought the mystery was nicely intriguing. I found both the serial killer and the various ghosts nicely creepy.
This is the first book of a trilogy and I intend to read the rest.
So while I enjoyed reading the book, I wish it was a bit less death centered.
My other problem was me not being sure how authentic the portrait of the historical period was. I’m not saying it not accurate, but I have little experience with books about this time.
Mostly it felt like modern novel. Set in 1916 for the costumes and mediums sake. But maybe I’m wrong.
What I liked about the books was 2 main characters. Both Delia and Gabe are sweet souls. Nice and dedicated. The romance between two was nicely natural.
I don’t understand why the author chose to use 1st person POV for Delia and the 3rd for Gabe, but I got used to it quickly enough; so I wasn’t bothered by it.
I will continue with the series, I think. Just not too soon.
Jaime Lee Moyer's experience in poetry gives her an excellent grasp of how words interact with each other on large scale. Her descriptions and word flow are among the best I've seen in a debut novel, though there are spots that could have used just a little more tweaking; in a sea of strong linguistics, any small blemish can make a horribly big deal of itself, sticking out on the page like a fleck of poop on otherwise lovely China.
Beyond the bare basics, Moyer's characters are wonderfully deep and real. Most of them are likable and sympathetic, and perhaps most satisfying, they care about manners. Not being an avid reader of historical fiction I'm not sure how big a role that plays, but it's so refreshing to see characters who have some social standards and care about how they affect other people, even if it's people they don't care for.
Most of the conflict outside of the police investigation is personal and too subtle to create the suspense necessary to drive the story along. The plot is well-paced, but thin, with very little really going wrong, and feels like it drags on more than it really does. The characters should always, always come first in a story, but when the majority of the plot conflict depends on their emotions, you can have an unbalanced book that's hard to get through. I'm normally a quick reader and it would embarrass me to admit how long it took me to read this one.
Having said that, it was enjoyable enough that I would recommend it to those who like ghost stories and plots focused mostly on the emotional lives of the characters. It almost seems in Delia's Shadow that the investigation of a brutal serial killer is an accident. Luckily, Moyer's writing is not heavy-handed, so the realization that so little is really happening dawns on the reader more slowly.
Moyer says on her blog that she's currently working on more novels. My hope is that she puts more effort into having things go wrong in the plot. (I think she might suffer from the same problem I and many inexperienced novelists have -- it can be very difficult to force bad things to happen to your beloved characters.) If she can learn to balance her excellent characters and descriptive powers with a truly suspenseful plot, she has the potential to be a superb novelist.
The plotting and the pace are perfect, and the historical aspects so evocative that I almost felt I lived in San Francisco a few years after the earthquake...
But the strongest aspect is the characters. Not only are the POV characters complex, sympathetic, and interesting, but so are all the other ones; they all come to life, even ones that are only briefly mentioned.
I like that it did not have pat answers for things like- what sparked the serial killer's murderous rampages? and how, exactly, do the ghosts fit in? For both, there are suggestions made, but no definitive answers, and I think that's appropriate.
While there is definitely some violence, most of it is in the background, and the overall feel is more creepy than anything else.
Very much recommended!
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