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A Kiss of Shadows (Meredith Gentry, Book 1) Hardcover – October 1, 2000
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Three years ago, Princess Meredith fled the court of her cruel Aunt Andais, the Queen of Air and Darkness, leaving that garden of decadent delights and backstabbing intrigues for the comparative calm of Los Angeles. Using her magic to pass for human, Meredith began a new life as a private investigator specializing in supernatural crime. But now Doyle, the Queen's chief bodyguard and assassin, has been dispatched to fetch her back--whether she likes it or not.
The product of a marriage designed to cement peace between the rival Seelie and Unseelie courts, Meredith has always been scorned by both factions in spite of her royal blood. But that blood is behind the Unseelie Queen's surprisingly urgent summons.
For ever since the fey's exile from Europe to America, their power and purity have been fading. Desperate to renew her race, Queen Andais now pins her hopes on a contest between Meredith and her own son, the sadistic Prince Cel. The first to produce a child will win the throne.
The loser's reward will be death . . .
Laurell K. Hamilton's bestselling series of novels featuring Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, established her as one of the hottest new writers of dark fantasy and erotic horror. Now, in a thrilling adventure of unbridled imagination, Hamilton turns her talents to the glittering, myth-drenched lands of Faerie and brings them brilliantly into the postmodern age. Enter a thrilling, sensual world as threatening as it is beautiful, replete with the titanic passions of immortal beings once worshipped as gods or demons. Full of earthly pleasures and dazzling magic, Laurell K. Hamilton's A Kiss of Shadows will hold you under its hypnotic spell.
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Despite the selkies, brownies, goblins, and ogres in this book, it's not for children. The fey are "creatures of the senses"--and in the Unseelie court, sex and pain go together. Merry is sexually adventurous and surrounded by gorgeous, powerful males, most of whom want her badly. She's politically savvy and no coward, though she's not the warrior Anita is. Hamilton fans and readers of adult fairy tales like Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy will want to give Merry a look. --Nona Vero
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Publisher : Del Rey; 1st edition (October 1, 2000)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 448 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0345423399
- ISBN-13 : 978-0345423399
- Item Weight : 15.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.25 x 9.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #268,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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~| THE REHASH |~
Merry is half fairy, half human. People in the Unseelie court were trying to kill her for some reason, so she ran off to live a normal life in LA three years ago and is now working as a paranormal detective. She works a case that reveals her location to the Unseelie queen (who’s her aunt) and gets dragged back to court. The queen reveals that she wants Merry to inherit the Unseelie throne—apparently for no reason at all—despite the fact that the queen is an immortal who will out live Merry by centuries. LOGIC. The only problem is the Queen’s son Cel who’s a complete bonehead that has just as much right to the throne as Merry (probably more since he’s her son??). In the end, it’s a race to see who can make a baby first and continue the bloodline. Whoever makes a baby first will be crowned king or queen.
That is literally the entire plot. Half-human girl lives in LA. Half-human girl gets dragged away to make babies.
~| THE UGLY |~
Oh my god, where do I even start? FIRST OF ALL, I thought this was terribly written. I’d say a middle schooler wrote this if the subject matter weren’t so incredibly screwed up. The following is my interpretation of her writing style:
I live in Los Angeles. There’s smog everywhere. I don’t know how the fey can stand living here. This isn’t where I’m from, but I can’t go home because I’d be killed. Jeremy is my boss. We flirt a lot, but don’t worry, it’s just how fairies are. He dresses in nice clothes. My skirt today is really short. I have to wear high heels to make my legs look longer. Now I’ll spend five paragraphs describing the color of my red hair.
AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! *Throws book out a window*
Hamilton also spends next to NO time explaining the universe she’s created and I was so confused THE ENTIRE TIME. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW INFURIATING THIS WAS. I already had a very basic knowledge of fairies going into this, so I could kinda follow along, but I had so many questions. She uses the word “Sidhe” every other sentence, but never get a solid definition of what it even means. And does the general populace know about the paranormal stuff going on?? Merry casually references a few government laws that pertain to magic and they even recruit the police to help with certain cases. There’s practically a whole chapter about how Hitler tried to recruit the fey to his side of WWII. I mean, the Unseelie court has a publicist! Merry even spends the last half of the book running away from an angry mob of journalists. But then they have to glamour themselves all the time when they’re out in public?? And at one point Merry goes into a description of fey hunters who are people that lurk around the gate of the Unseelie court to try and “catch a glimpse” of them. WHAT DO YOU MEAN?!?! Aren’t there fey all over the media if so many journalists are after Merry?? Can’t humans just open a newspaper to “catch a glimpse” of the fairies??? Or walk around outside?? Do normal humans know or not?!?!? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!?!
Eh, whatever, it doesn’t matter right??? Instead, here’s two pages describing how amazing Merry looks in this push-up bra! WHY ARE YOU OVER-EXPLAINING THINGS THAT DON’T MATTER? GIVE ME ANSWERS.
And for a plot that was centered around having sex, this book was shockingly devoid of it. There’s one confusingly weird scene in the beginning and one lame scene at the very end, but the middle is nothing but heavy flirting and some weird foreplay that never goes anywhere. Whatever, I don’t need sex in my books. It would have been fine if the plot weren’t filled with gaping holes and could carry the story on it’s own, but it couldn’t. Instead I found myself annoyingly bored, reading scene after scene of Merry doing mundane things like flying on an airplane and talking to her grandma. I waited ten chapters for Merry’s confrontation with the queen. TEN. And the payoff was sooooo not worth it. We wait the whole book for Merry to get the queen’s permission to get freaky with these hunky fey guards AND THEN NOTHING HAPPENS. The last chapter is a terrible rush job that just made me wanna light this book on fire.
Also, Merry is sooo narcissistic and I really don’t understand why everyone fawns over her as much as they do. All the men she speaks to are like OMG, YOU’RE SO HOT. HOW CAN I POSSIBLE RESIST YOU?! And she’s all, I KNOW RIGHT?!?! Merry spends the entire book making off-hand comments on the different ways she’s better than everyone else. My hair is beautiful, by body look great, my eyes are amazing, my clothes are awesome, blah blah blah. I think I was suppose to see her as a strong, independent woman, but to me she was just annoyingly egotistical. At one point, her boss Jeremy says something like “She really doesn’t know how beautiful she is does she?” I LITERALLY laughed out loud. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Are we talking about the same person?!
~| THE GOOD |~
I liked most of the secondary characters that we glimpse in the beginning. Uther is amazing AND DESERVED BETTER. I mean, did Uther ever find a lady friend to fill his lonely nights?? I’M VERY CONCERNED.
Oh, I also liked when it ended.
~| FINAL WORD |~
Note that not all of the MG books involve a murder mystery in the plot; much of the series revolves around the dangerous and uncertain politics of the Faerie courts that Merry must maneuver through. This book lays out her reasons for fleeing Faerie, but her position as a Royal means there is no permanent escape. She is dragged back into that dangerous world of intrigue, even as she tries to balance it with her human-world job as a private agency detective.
The MG series shows off Ms. Hamilton's writing at her best. You really feel Merry's fear and anxieties as she tries to be part of two worlds: the human world she knows well, having actually attended college and graduated with a degree, versus the beautiful but deadly courts of immortal Faerie, the place Merry almost died, growing up as a despised half-human but who could not be ignored because of her Royal blood. This tension of being between two worlds is gripping, and how Merry matures through the series is realistically handled.
There are multiple sex partners - a given with Ms. Hamilton - but the number is much more manageable in the MG books. Readers will find it easier to not only remember the names of her lovers, but their personalities and appearances. This is in sharp contrast to the Anita Blake series, which has gone on much too long and become overly complex, with so many sex partners for Anita it's almost impossible to keep them all straight, let alone care much about the last two dozen or so.
No so with the Merry Gentry series. Ms. Hamilton introduces the main characters and they will remain the focus through all the books, giving this series a much stronger storyline. Come along for the ride, it's an exciting and addictive read!
The plot was actually mostly interesting, the characters were decently fleshed out (hehe), and I found that I didn't mind the actual writing. What came as an utter shock to me was that I apparently liked it enough to finish it in two days. Do I actually care about whether Meredith becomes the next queen? Absolutely not. Do I care if Cel survives his punishment? Still nope. Do I want to find out however if she finally sleeps with my favorite of the guards Doyle? Uhh...YES.
I did struggle a little bit with the beginning of this book. I felt like there were things introduced, like the mention of Sidhe worship (which is forbidden), that was never really touched upon again. When it's first brought up it's made a huge deal that something like that is happening but once you reach the ending all of a sudden it's resolved with only one sentence and not mentioned elsewhere.
Would I have read this book on my own because of the synopsis? Nope. I honestly probably would have never taken a second glance at this. Am I glad that someone picked this for book club and I was basically forced to read it? Absolutely, and I will probably wind up picking up the next book so I can see if Doyle finally gets a turn.
Top reviews from other countries
Once it got going the story is well written and captures your attention and imagination. The character are clever and believable. Merry is a good protagonist, likeable, nice without being weak or naive. The other far characters all are different enough to stand out in the mind. The action, mainly combat or political manoeuvring is well timed and we'll written. All in all I really enjoyed this, once I got into it.
I don't think i'll carrying this series on, but i still think Hamilton is a genius writer... Anita Blake is the best book series i've ever read and that will never change for me!