Jennifer Fales,
Shadows & Fire
(Outskirts, 2011)

In Shadows & Fire, author Jennifer Fales almost abruptly drops the reader into an alternate version of our world, in a future where humans genetically engineered human-animal hybrids, the experiment got out of hand and the result was two separate societies and cultures: humans, led by the church and its often-psychic clergy, and the supernaturals, who live in six giant city-hives, clustered together.

During the struggle that resulted in this detente-like situation, another experiment resulted in a human woman, Regina, being killed, but her twin children surviving. Now the children are young adults and are trying to reunite. Laydon, who can kill with shadows of darkness, is captive within one of the hives. His sister Lilith, who can be just as lethal but in other ways, is living among the humans. Both Laydon and Lilith find allies in both communities and move toward finding one another. There will be consequences, though.

After I was done, I was hungry for more. That is both good and bad. The good is that I would jump to obtain a sequel. The bad is that I felt that I had read an early draft, and the editor would say, "Great start, now just flesh it out." The two-page preface throws the entire history of this world at you, leaving the reader feeling overwhelmed and a bit lost. That preface had enough possible or potential material for 50 pages of introduction. The whole book was but 110 pages, and had enough story for 300. The author, in my view, needs to slow down and do justice to this great premise and story.

book review by
Chris McCallister

25 February 2012

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