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The Scent of Shadows (Sign of the Zodiac, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – February 27, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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“...Read at your own risk —it’ll keep you up past your bedtime.” (Charlaine Harris)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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!
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.