Author: Sam Blood
Series: Shadows #1
Griffin has spent most of his life trying to forget the non-human friend he had when he was little. Before the accident. Before he lost his mom and his brother turned into a stranger. But a moment of rebellion sends him straight through a portal into another world—a monstrous world where none of the occupants are humans, but they have a mysterious connection to humans. Just what is the relationship between Shadows and humans? Why do so many want to kill over it? And what will become of Griffin, who has inadvertently stepped in the middle of all of this?
This was amazing. First, I just love the concept behind the Shadow world. Every occupant is nonhuman, and they range from familiar mythological creatures like satyrs and phoenixes to more unusual creatures like the half-parrot/half-dragon Cirrus. These all come together in a civilized society very like ours, with some adjustments for things like aerial traffic. And that’s before the story even gets into what, exactly, the Shadows are and why that matters.
I like how this book handles soulmates. Too often it’s a solely romantic relationship, or one free of the most serious problems. Griffin and Cirrus have a soul-deep connection, but it’s one that freaks both of them out, and as much as they both want it at some level, they’re also running from it. Watching their friendship blossom was one of the best parts of the book.
The humor is also extremely good. It felt like every few paragraphs I’d stumble over something else that cracked me up.
“I don’t want to die. And if you died, I’d probably feel like, slightly bad about that too.”
“That was awesome! I thought you were as uncoordinated as I am.”
“Lots of laser force practice. You know, a shooting game back home.”
“You played this with your friends?”
“I was a bit of a loner. I just turned up and shot strangers.”
“This explains so much,” Cirrus says.
I seriously need to reread this and pull all my favorite quotes.
The characters are another strong point. Griffin is an interesting choice of protagonist, because he’s not a hero. He sort of wants to be. He deludes himself into thinking he will be. But in the end, he’s a single person contributing to both sides of a conflict that’s much bigger than himself, and his decisions, good and bad, hurt both sides. In other words, he’s a normal kid in way over his head.
Cirrus, of course, is just awesome. Awkward teenage boy, even if he is a different species. I love his snarky conversations with Griffin, and the way he’s struggling to handle his own heart. He wants his best friend back, but what happened ten years ago impacted more than just Griffin, and now Cirrus is unsure how to approach Griffin.
Hanna is another interesting addition. She’s lust at first sight for Griffin, but even he has to admit she’s got some issues that could seriously complicate their relationship.
“My Mum used to tell me something,” Cirrus says grimly. “She said be careful when trying to put a broken person back together, in case you cut yourself on the pieces.”
Which is why I liked how it worked out in the end.
Overall this was a lot of fun, and I’ve already bought the sequel. Highly Recommended.
(And one more quote, which contains small spoilers)
“Oh, and for the record: high-jacking the laboratory filled with my life’s work and trying to crash it into my place of residence: not appreciated.”