Review: Shadows by Paula Weston

Review: Shadows by Paula Weston
Shadows
The Rephaim #1
by Paula Weston

Genres: Urban Fantasy, Angels, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication date: 10 September 2013
by Tundra Books

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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.

Shadows-Writing

 

‘Tell me again how he died.’
My chest constricts. ‘In the accident.’
‘Where?’
‘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.

Shadows-Character

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.

Shadows-Mythology

‘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.

Shadows-Ships

‘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!

Shadows-Conclusion

 

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!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
World-building
Romance
Impact
Opening
Climax
Ending
Overall: 3.7
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Aentee

Aentee

I'm Aentee, a 20-something lover of books and shiny things. By day, I attempt to prescribe books to all the patients in my optometry clinic. By night, I read books, watch TV, and spend way too much time on twitter.

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    • AenteeAentee says

      If you love Urban Fantasy I think you’ll really enjoy this one, it has all the best elements of it, but still enough surprises to keep it fresh. Plus, it’s sexy, the MOST important feature of an Urban Fantasy :D

      Thanks for commenting <3

    • AenteeAentee says

      It is definitely a bit more mature than the usual YA fares, so if you’re looking for something a bit darker in tone, I would recommend this wholeheartedly :D

  1. says

    Wohoo, Aentee! I’m so happy you enjoyed this one. I’m with you on angel books. The only series that work for me are this one and Susan Ee’s Angelfall books.
    I loved how complex the characters were in this one as well and I’m with you on the mythology being well-written. And of course, the romance was amazing! I still have the last 2 books to read in this series and I’m excited to get to them.
    I hope the series continues to get better for you, Aentee! :)
    Lovely review!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : Everything, Everything by Nicola YoonMy Profile

    • AenteeAentee says

      Oooo I also loved Susan Ee’s Angelfall trilogy, you have great taste, dear Nick <3

      I liked that there's such a complexity to both relationships and to the interactions between demons and angels in this one. Really looking forward to see how it's fleshed out in future books. Jeann traded me Burn the other day, so I need to finish collecting the series :D

    • AenteeAentee says

      Ooo, I now seriously have to read the second book as your comment has me intrigued. World building is one of my favourite parts in an Urban Fantasy so I’m glad to hear it gets more development.

  2. says

    I think for some of these fallen angel books, we’re expected to fall back on the age old Nephilim mythology. Although it would be great to have it either verified or have the author attempt to spin it a different way. Mythology is an impt for me when it comes to fantasy books like this. I don’t want to guess or be kept wanting.
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…Loved It: Melting Point by Kate MeaderMy Profile

    • AenteeAentee says

      I agree, well realised world building is so important in fantasy fiction, and I wished so many authors wouldn’t just assume knowledge on the part of the readers when they use a familiar mythology such as angel lore and Greek myths. It feels a lot like laziness!

  3. says

    Why haven’t I started this series? I’ve been seeing it EVERYWHERE. As much as I love stories with the main character having amnesia, that’s usually my problem too, I’d still like to feel a personality there, so so glad that isn’t a problem in here! AND YAY. Co-characters who actually have their own back story and thing going on? That’s usually my problem with side characters, when they just feel there and nothing else. This is sounding amazing already. I didn’t get into Hush, Hush enough to even know there wasn’t anything else to it. I think I got to like, page 10 and gave up. So another point to Shadows, it’s actually explored. Uhm, you had me at sexual tension with the romance. THE BEST.
    Kirsty-Marie Jones recently posted…I HAVE NO MORE FEELINGSMy Profile

    • AenteeAentee says

      The characters are some of the best part about this book, the teens in this book are also unabashed about their horniness, their love for curse words, their thirst for a bit of violence and danger. I highly recommend it, Gaby is not a blank slate at all and I think most readers would enjoy her!

    • AenteeAentee says

      I think I’m usually so disappointed by angel books because I really want to love them! This one definitely hits the spot though, so I hope you’ll get a chance to check it out one day :D

  4. says

    I love this series. LOOOOOVE IT! It brings me back to the days when Urban Fantasy was fresh and authors weren’t afraid to mix it up and blur the lines between good and evil when it came to their characters. And Rafa, ohhh RAFA! That boy is smoking hot. I don’t mind the occasional love triangle, but thankfully this really wasn’t one at all. There’s the hint of a few characters who share a history, but thankfully Gaby remembers none of it and is strong enough not to entertain the idea. This is one of those series that I can’t wait to read all over again. Brilliant review Aentee and so glad you loved this one too <3
    Kelly recently posted…Demon Road by Derek Landy… On the Highway to HELLMy Profile

    • AenteeAentee says

      I read it because of you and your wonderful coverage on the series, Kelly! Thanks so much for putting out the words on how awesome the series is. I agree, I love it because of how complex the characters are, I love my morally ambiguous type. Plus Rafa and Gaby has insane chemistry, I feel like I should leave them to it whenever I read their scenes haha. The intensity is amazing!

    • says

      Seriously- you don’t need to worry! It’s not really a love triangle. A guy Gabi used to date appears but it’s not really a thing! Definitely give the series a go! I couldn’t put it down.

    • AenteeAentee says

      I agree with KJ, there’s not really a love triangle, more like a relationship with some dude hanging on the sideline being ignored. I highly recommend it, Sophia!

  5. says

    I first heard about this series thanks to Kelly from Diva Booknerd! She had me hooked with her review, and ended up gifting me all 4 books in the series! Your review completely has me wanting to drop every freaking arc I have to read to pick this up, (sadly I can’t) but oh boy, I’m so excited to start! This will actually be my FIRST book of ” Angel Mythology ” or whatever it’s called lol, so I’m a bit nervous, but so intrigued at the same time!
    Tika recently posted…Mini Review Mash-Up — The Blood Guard & The Glass GauntletMy Profile

    • AenteeAentee says

      Tika! I know you are ready for some worthy swooning, lady, so you NEED to get this books into your hands. Kelly and I would never lead you astray, the romance in this is OFF THE CHARTS hotness. Forget those ARCs for a couple of hours *the devil*

    • Aentee says

      I think if you like action mixed with a bit of romance, you can’t go wrong here. Hope you’ll get a chance to read it soon, Mishma!

  6. says

    I bet Rashika is jumping up and down that you loved this! She adores the series and I think I broke her heart when I didn’t LOL ;)

    I do totally agree about the angel lore, that was such a well done and developed point. Really, I think what sullied it for me a little was that I wasn’t invested in the characters. I don’t know . . . maybe I just read it on a bad day? Or maybe I just hadn’t eaten enough chocolate that day
    Allie @ Little Birdie recently posted…Is Your Own Company is Good Enough? {The Birdie Musings}My Profile

    • AenteeAentee says

      She has been recommending me so many books, some of them EVEN MAKES ME CRY. She is an evil person but I do love her.

      Aw sorry to hear that the characters didn’t work for you, maybe you can reread it if the TBR ever clears up?

  7. says

    Congrats on your review! I liked it a lot ^^ I have been trying to get into reading Angel books lately as well but it hasn’t been working out too well for me. Maybe this is the one I need to try to cut me out of my angelic-like slump? I do love it when the main character and the secondary ones are done incredibly well as well, like this one. Especially how we don’t have them worrying about who they are, even after a bout of forgetfulness.
    Olivia Roach recently posted…Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon Sign Up!My Profile

    • AenteeAentee says

      Yes, this is one of those rare, satisfying, complex angel books. I usually dislike them because the main guys are jerks or there’s not enough lore involved. This book got it right in all counts!

  8. says

    I am so glad you enjoyed it! Having recently read it, I have to say it’s been one of the best angel-themed books I’ve had the chance to read and review – which is saying something. I can’t wait to meet the characters again in the next books and I’m hoping you’ll be reading them too :)
    Ola recently posted…Book Review: Shadows – Paula WestonMy Profile

    • AenteeAentee says

      I am so glad to hear you liked it! I will definitely be finishing up the series over the coming months, I hope that we will both continue to love it!

  9. says

    I have complicated relationship with Angel Books too. The only series that I considered to read are The Rephaim series and Angelfall by Susan Ee. Since I have a hard time with cliffhangers I decided to wait until the whole series would be released. Wonderful review, Aentee, I’m looking forward what you come up next. And I love complex characters in the gray area, too.
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