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Through Shade and Shadow (Shades and Shadows Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 241 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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The violence in Through Shade and Shadow was the result of bigotry and intolerance, after a mass murderer was identified as a Shade. Shades were previously considered a mythical species with supernatural healing capabilities, so the hatred that erupted was from a fear of those who are different. To reinforce that idea, the author had the persecution extend well beyond the Shades and the other fantasy species (Shadows, Shifters, Sages) to many other groups and organizations. Over the course of the story, blacks, immigrants, synagogues, gays, Planned Parenthood, and others were attacked, often with horrific results. While the use of these examples brings to mind real world events, the breadth of the persecution seemed generally unrealistic. Even the story’s references to extreme religious close-mindedness, hatemongering on the political front, and violent military stereotypes did little to make these events seem more than a listing of historical intolerance.
The book spends some considerable time developing the lifestyle and gifts of the two primary characters, Mason Jerah, a Shade, and Alaric Lambrecht, who is a Shadow. Both are being thrust into roles much greater than anything they had experienced before and it is easy to feel their growing pains. Beyond these two individuals, the author expounds on a variety of other fantasy species and their gifts – the ability to feel another’s emotions, to see another’s thoughts, to plant thoughts, to create false appearances, to control fire, to control light, and so on. While variety may generally add interest to a story, when so many supernatural capabilities are available in a fantasy world, creating obstacles becomes a matter of explaining why a gift doesn’t work and eliminating problems just takes the right gift at the right time. The creation of tension and its resolution starts to feel artificial, subject completely to the stage of the story.
So, while the plight described in Through Shade and Shadow will, unfortunately, bring to mind many real-world events, the breadth of the persecution and the lack of boundaries on supernatural gifts tends to render the story somewhat strained.
Case paints both a multi-faceted and interesting picture here. There are two protagonists in which we get to follow closely, and both story-lines are engaging and fast-paced, which I really appreciated. The pacing was always well done, even with the switching between them, and I found myself invested in both of the situations. I wished at times that I had more information about the background of the supernatural beings in total - where they came from, their histories, and the full extent of their individual abilities. A lot of this could be excused because of Mason's isolation growing up, though parts of that rang a bit strange. Not really enough to throw me out, but a few times I raised an eyebrow; he read a book about his people's healing power, and had kissed girls before, but had only gone into town once a month since he was around ten years old, and had no formal education? Bits of that were jarring, but not enough to spoil anything, just odd.
I found myself really thankful that there was so little romance shoe-horned into this, because honestly, it just didn't fit. Both protagonists had too much on their plate and too much going on to ever be focusing on anything like that - survival had to come first. I was very happy the author largely stayed away from this (what bit there was felt forced, but it was so short that I could move past it quickly). It was amazing how much I wanted the two to finally meet each other, and though I felt cheated by the ending (because I wanted more!), Case has set up a really interesting, serious, and complex situation going into book 2. I'll definitely be reading on, as this was a fun, quick-reading ride!