________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 2. . . .September 13, 2013


Shadows. (The Rephaim Series, Book I).

Paula Weston.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2013.
394 pp., hardcover & ebook, $19.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-7704-9547-0 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-7704-9549-4 (ebook).

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Joan Marshall.

**** /4



“What do you want?” I ask Malachi. “You made an offer to Daniel.” He waits for me to nod that I understand. “He’s accepted your terms.”

My heart stutters.

“That was before the cage.”

“Wait,” Rafa says. “What offer?”

I ignore him, my eyes locked on Malachi.

“How else do you think the lovely Maggie is coming home?” he says.

“No more torture,” I say. As if I’ll have any say in it once I’m back at the Sanctuary. “And I want Mags back here before tomorrow. I’m not going anywhere until I see she’s okay.” My voice shakes.

Rafa is beside me. “What offer?”

“I’ll explain later.” I’m not game to look at him.

Malachi nods. “I’ll be back before sunset to give you a place and time for the exchange. Be home.” He looks past me. Simon must be out of sight because he shifts, right there, in the sunlight.

Rafa grabs me by the arm, rougher than he’s ever been with me. “What have you done?”

Ordinary 19-year-old Gaby Winters works at the local public library in a small Australian coastal town while she tries to accept the death of her twin brother Jude in a horrendous car accident and she allows time to heal her body while she copes with shadowy, terrifying nightmares. One day, a handsome stranger named Rafael comes to town, claiming to be a friend of Jude’s, wondering if Gaby remembers anything about what she and Jude were searching for when he died. Although Gaby remembers nothing, Rafa fills in the blanks for her, starting with her genealogy: Gaby is, like him, one of the Rephaim (the children of human women and Fallen angels) spending time on earth searching for the Fallen. Their leader on earth is the angel Nathaniel. Daniel is one of the Council of Five who rule with Nathaniel. Jude and Rafa had split from the Rephaim. Someone has implanted false memories in Gaby’s head. Everyone had assumed that Gaby and Jude had died. But now everyone is searching for Gaby to find out if she and Jude had found the Fallen.

     Nathaniel kidnaps Gaby’s housemate Maggie, her best friend, and Daniel takes Gaby to the Sanctuary, the home of the Rephaim in the Italian Alps, on the pretext that Maggie is there. While Rafa had used seduction to try to jog Gaby’s memories, Nathaniel and Daniel torture Gaby and keep her in a cage to fight a hellion, hoping her memory will kick back in. Rescued by Rafa, Gaby plots to find Maggie with help from both Jason, Maggie’s boyfriend, and Simon, the local barkeep. At a remote forest cabin, all the factions collide in a vicious battle until the demons show up, forcing the angels to work together despite their differences. Safe with Rafa once more and convinced Jude might still be alive somewhere, Gaby returns to her home to plan how she will find him. Stay tuned for the second book in the Rephaim series.

     This powerful fantasy will draw older teen readers, both boys and girls, like a magnet. The characters are rich and diverse, the setting oozes charm, and the plot, although convoluted, rushes along at breakneck speed, supported by humorous, witty dialogue.

     Gaby is a sympathetic heroine, mourning her brother’s death and just trying to get by. As the story progresses, she gradually reclaims some of her previous personality, alluded to by all the angels: she was a powerful warrior, a steadfast sister, a good friend, and a sharp thinker. She also is open to Rafa’s charms and feels the stirrings of lust. Rafa is a strong fighter, an honest, loyal friend with an attitude and an eye for women. Nathaniel and Daniel are the political leaders, the ones who will twist the truth to achieve their aims. The other women angels, the vicious, revengeful Taya and the compassionate Daisy, are portrayed as the equal of any of the men. The angels’ ability to shift, to move instantly from place to place by controlling energy, proves advantageous to the plot and creates much of the humorous undertone. Their emotional drama is so human, and this is what will keep the doubters reading.

      The Australian rainforest and easygoing bar-fuelled beach town life will fascinate Canadian readers. The real strength of this book, though, is the dialogue which both reveals character and advances the plot while entertaining the reader with many sharp, amusing comebacks. Back story is revealed through conversations between the characters. There is no telling here, just sheer entertainment.

     Think you can’t face such a suspension of disbelief? It won’t matter whether or not you believe in angels. By the end of this book, you’ll be cheering for Gaby and her associates, dying to read book two to find out how she succeeds.

Highly Recommended.

Joan Marshall is a Winnipeg, MB, bookseller.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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