Shadow Blade (Shadowchasers #1) by Seressia Glass
Shadow Blade is yet another book in Dark Faerie Tales’ debut urban fantasy challenge. (I’ve had to step up my reading to try to finish the challenge by the end of the year and so there may be less diversity in the types of books I write about for the next couple months.)
In the world that Seressia Glass has created, there is the side of Light and the side of Shadows. Kira Solomon fights for the Light, and the Gilead Commission, as a Shadowchaser, using her training and her extrasense – the ability to read objects and drain energy with her touch – to fight back against the Fallen, who bring disorder and chaos. When not fighting crime, Kira works as an antiquities expert. One day, her mentor, Bernie Comstock, brings her a 4,000-year-old dagger to examine – a dagger with incredible power that is being chased by its original owner, Khefar, an ancient Nubian warrior, as well as one of the Fallen. This leads to the usual mistrust and attraction, followed by some teaming up to fight the bad guy.
There are some great characters in this book. Both Kira and Khefar have depth and you can really identify with them. Seressia Glass does a great job of revealing bits of their past over the course of the novel, letting the reader get to know them in ways that also advance the plot. Nansee, Khefar’s travelling companion (or sidekick, depending on who you’re talking to), is a nice mixture of comic relief and sage adviser. Kira’s friends Zoo and Wynne are excellent supporting characters, despite their odd names.
I also thought the storyline was quite interesting. There aren’t that many twists and turns but those that are there are surprising. I’ve read the blurb for the second book, Shadow Chase, and it sounds just as good as Shadow Blade, if not better. The mythology in the series is also great, since this is a new spin on an old theme. I especially enjoyed the incorporation of Egyptian deities, which is something you don’t often see, at least not to the degree in which they matter in the Shadowchasers series. The only thing I didn’t love: how long it took me to adjust to Seressia Glass calling Khefar “the Nubian” throughout the novel. I realize it’s a good way to keep from repeating “Khefar” over and over again in the text but she doesn’t call Kira “the Shadowchaser” unless someone else is referring to her as such (at least not that I noticed) and I found the asymmetry a little jarring at first.
Another aspect of this book (and series) that I also really liked may be something of a hot button topic so, before I continue, I would like to say that I am approaching this from the most respectful, appreciative place possible. I love that the two protagonists in this book are black. Urban fantasy tends to be filled with white, or mostly white, protagonists; this is a nice change. I can only think of one other author – L.A. Banks – who routinely features black characters as series leads (or half-black, in the case of her Crimson Moon books), though other authors, like Patricia Briggs (and others I’ve forgotten to mention here), do have main characters who are not white. I mention this partially because I love diversity in books, and also because, after all of the controversy over whitewashing covers (see this post from The Book Smugglers for a great discussion of the topic), it’s great to see cover art that accurately represents the lead character, even though she doesn’t have her trademark braids.
I’m really looking forward to Shadow Chase. I can’t wait to find a copy. 🙂
Almost heading down the homestretch with this reading challenge!