The Scent of Shadows: The First Sign of the Zodiac Mass Market Paperback – Feb 27 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Despite its romance pedigree (Kim Harrison and Charlaine Harris contribute advance praise), this moody, fast-paced debut falls into the growing "dark fantasy" category, which blends fantasy, comic book superheroism and paranormal romance, but holds no promise of a happily-ever-after. The book's heroine, Joanna Archer, has spent the years following a brutal attack learning martial arts and trolling Sin City, Nev., for trouble. On the eve of her 25th birthday, she finds it in the form of a peculiar date who looks like a gaunt banker one moment and like hell spawn the next. Joanna fights her way out of his grasp, but her close encounter is only the beginning. Before long, she finds herself caught up in a world where a superhuman few—the Light—fight evil from the Shadow realm, a world in which she's recognized as the "Kairos," a prophesied warrior made up of both Shadow and Light who's destined to help Light prevail. Pettersson centers her story around the signs of the Zodiac, putting an imaginative spin on a familiar setup. Though graphic scenes (in which tongues are severed, heads ripped off, etc.) will repel some readers, others will embrace Pettersson's enduring, tough-as-nails heroine and anticipate gleefully the next volume, due in April. (Mar.)
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“The Scent of Shadows came out of nowhere and slapped me silly. … You’re going to love this.” (Kim Harrison)
“...Read at your own risk —it’ll keep you up past your bedtime.” (Charlaine Harris)
Top Customer Reviews
Joanna and Olivia Archer maybe sisters, but they seemed to be complete opposites. Olivia is the socialite and favorite of their father, Xavier Archer. Xavier owns the casino-hotel Valhalla in Las Vegas. He represents the city's finest in business. Joanna's life has been rougher. Since she was attacked as a teen and left for dead, Joanna has turned to photography and the art of dirty street fighting. But everything changes on Joanna's twenty-fifth birthday. She dies.
The next day, Joanna learns that there is another world beyond the glamour of Sin City. Warriors of the Light and of the Shadow battle in an immortal war. The good news is that Joanna is The One, the first real sign of the zodiac. She is half Light and half Shadow. She may very well be the city's greatest warrior. The bad part is that she wants nothing to do with any of it.
***** Paranormal Romance gets no better than this! Author Vicki Pettersson actually gives life to her characters! My heart ached whenever Joanna grieved and I even gave out a loud "YES!" as she fought the Shadow Warriors. I was pulled into the story without even realizing it. I can hardly wait for the next installment of this bright new series! *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The story isn't exactly fresh and original. If you've read urban fantasy you have seen the underlying themes explored in this book dozens of times. But the execution of the book, the writing and storytelling are well-done and engaging. If not exactly a new take on urban fantasy as a genre, it's at least an excellent example of it. You have your standard kick-ass heroine with super-powers, big baddies who are her nemeses, a world that exists alongside but hidden from the real world, and lots of angst. I really enjoyed the book and felt engaged enough to pay to read the continuing series, and I feel that is a glowing recommendation in itself.
The world-building didn't work terribly well for me. The story is told first-person from the heroine's point of view, and since she is thrust all unaware into the world of the Zodiac the reader is as well. Joanna has no idea what is going on half the time and information is doled out to her (and the reader) in dribs and drabs. I can't think of a good way for the author to avoid this other than an info-dump due to the constraints of the narration being from Joanna's point of view. Perhaps it is intentional, a way to build suspense and keep the reader guessing along with Joanna as to exactly what's up with the Zodiac and how it works.
The dialog felt natural and the characterizations felt real. Though it is an ongoing series, this book has a satisfying ending that doesn't force you to continue reading the series unless, like me, you really enjoyed it and wanted to continue reading about The Archer's adventures.
Kindle formatting was good.
This book is much more than that, much more ambitious. While the ideas are big, if a little on the hackneyed side, the writing is so-so. I've read romances, and am not hostile to them; I've read fantasy, sci-fi, dark fiction, and this was a mix of all but not enough of any. The romance bits felt uncomfortable and stiff, the fantasy felt like a retread, and there were some chick-lit moments that made me wonder why I was still reading.
And that's it. I was still reading, even though I could see the flaws. In spite of what feels like an overwritten first novel, the ideas and characters were intriguing enough that I still wanted to finish. And I did, in one day, sitting in the bath. Even as I huffed and muttered I needed to know what happened next.
Best book ever? No. But a good book for the bath or beach or when you want a relatively easy read with dark undertones. I haven't decided if I'll read the next one yet.
While there are aspects of romance, Joanna faces more heartache than happiness. Pettersson weaves several elements from different genres: urban fantasy, violence, intrigue, superheroes, and myth. Pettersson has created an incredibly fun character in Joanna with many facets and layers to her personality.
This dark and edgy superhero story was a long novel at 464 pages. But I read it amazingly fast, as I literally couldn't put it down. I'm itching to get my hands on the next in the series that, thankfully, comes out in just a little over a month!
By the way, this has the distinction of being the only book that I've ever given up on with only 30 pages to go. I just couldn't make myself care enough to finish.
Except for the protagonist, there wasn't a lot of character development but since it was written in the first person by her that is understandable.
All in all it was an enjoyable tale and now I am off to buy the second in the series.
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