PURCHASE:Amazon | Book Depository
It's been almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant. It doesn't help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn. And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who's been appearing in Gaby's dreams, he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense. Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth - and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares. Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly - who can she trust?
As my first review on The Social Potato, I will be a wee bit patriotic and promote an Australian title. The Rephaim series recently concluded, with Burn released in June 2015 — but I’m only hopping on the bandwagon now. Angel Books + Me = #It’sComplicated. I want to love them, I do, but I never muster up enough enthusiasm. Shadows fared better than other angel-related titles I’ve read in the past, featuring darkness, grit, and a totally swoonworthy love interest.
‘Tell me again how he died.’
My chest constricts. ‘In the accident.’
‘Outside Melbourne. We’d just arrived in Aust—’
‘He was driving?’ I nod, swallowing. ‘But you were backpacking, weren’t you? Where did the car come from? How did he get a licence?’
I blink. I know the answer to this, but it’s somewhere in the fog. ‘I…I can’t remember.’
The story begins with Gaby, still grieving after an automobile accident that left her brother dead and her memory scattered. She dreams of demons, angels, and unspeakable chaos and violence – I knew I would like Gaby as soon as it was revealed she wrote her dreams into stories and publicised them online. Come to me, bookish soul.
Arrival of mysterious beautiful strangers in town starts unraveling her world apart and hints a terrible secret lies in her lost memory. The cover of the book pretty much gives away the game here, so I’m going to go come out and admit that she’s a Rephaim – daughter of a Fallen angel. Someone has wiped her memory clean, made she think she’s human, and plopped her in the middle of Australia so that no one can find her (we’re THAT far away from the rest of the world). The thing I enjoyed the most about the plot was the mystery element, with Gaby having to slowly connect the story of her past and reconcile it with her false memory. I loved the uncertainty and darkness that it brought to the plot. We still don’t have all of the answers by the end of the novel, leaving me yearning for the next book.
More tears fall, and I don’t have the strength to stop them. I don’t care anymore. Jude is gone. And the brother I’m mourning is a lie. A memory someone else has given me. I have a whole other lifetime with him I don’t remember.
For a character that’s lost an essential part of her memory, Gaby is thankfully still a full, complex character instead of a blank slate. I dislike having to suffer through Jane Doe type protagonist who are devoided of personality. I like her fire, her snarkiness, and her vulnerabilities. Gaby has a multitude of characters turning up and telling her who she should be: Gabe, the indomitable and fearsome fighter of The Rephaim. However, despite her struggles and self doubt, she still manages to maintain her identity as Gaby, a girl who misses her brother and trying her best to navigate life – even while hell hounds are literally on her tail.
I also really enjoyed the other side characters in this novel, who are all given their own lives and stories outside of Gaby’s struggles. There’s Maggie, her best friend, who thankfully was not discarded by the plot once she was done playing damsel-in-disstress. Her friendship with Gaby was highlighted numerous times in the novel, and it made me do a happy dance. There’s also Jason, Maggie’s boyfriend with his own secrets. We don’t quite meet any flat out antagonist in this novel, there’s just a whole bunch of very shady people who swears they have Gaby, and the Rephaim’s best interest at heart. Due to Gaby’s own inability to fully differentiate friend from foe, the book was able to leave a lot of characters in the gray area i.e. THE GREATEST AREA.
‘The mark of the Rephaim. It’s a crescent moon. We all got branded during conception.’
I’m still stroking his skin with my thumb. I stop. He turns around and I slip back to my corner of the couch. ‘So I should have one?’
‘You did. Right where your scar is.’
I reach up under my hair. ‘Convenient.’
‘The only way we can be killed is decapitation, and the blow has to sever the mark. It makes perfect sense that someone wanting to kill you would try to take your head.’
Something that leaves me cold in most fallen angel type books is the frustrating lack of mythology. You tend to get a couple of ‘bad boys’ with wings and not many other elements (I am looking at you, Hush, Hush). However, I was delighted with how the author invested a lot of the books into exploring the different angel lores. Not only that, these fallen angels are tied together with death, violence and destruction – all the while they’re trying to look for salvation and acceptance in a Heaven they have never seen. I look forward to seeing more aspects of this explored in the future books.
There are also a lot of demonic presence in this book, I enjoyed seeing the different factions of heaven and hell coming out of the woodworks in Shadows. With three more books planned, there’s loads more room for expansion.
‘Oh, he’s got it all happening, all right. I just think you might want to ease yourself back into the dating pool. Not throw yourself in the shark tank.’
Arguably the most important thing for me in Urban Fantasy is a romantic interest I can become invested in? What? I’m a fangirl! Rafa is definitely that guy, his chemistry with Gaby is insane – this book is definitely not intended for younger readers because their scenes are rife with sexual tension.
Rafa is literally a the guy of Gaby’s dreams, but I’m glad the book didn’t take the predictable route with them. There’s a lot of forgotten history between the two (they used to be fighting buddy, awesome? Awesome), along with their mutual grief for Jude, that prevents things from escalating. All we have is UST to get us by for now, but thankfully that’s just the way I like it.
There’s also a hint of a love triangle in this book, but I think we pretty much all know who I have my money on. I am glad, because I dislike love triangles where the the parties are truly torn, just make up your mind, people!
Dark, mysterious, complex, this is definitely a book to get behind if you’re looking for a slightly more mature urban fantasy.
So have you read it? What did you think of the series? No spoilers, please!
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