A dark past.
A femme fatale.
A deadly secret...
Chapters: 21 (Plus a prologue and epilogue.)
Book Links: Goodreads
Lady of the Shades is one of the best books I have ever read.
It's a hard one to describe, to review, with so much merging together inside. I guess it's not really something that can be explained; it has to be experienced. You're definitely in for a journey, one with a powerful story, emotionally intense characters, and beautiful, smooth writing that's perhaps some of the author's best.
Mr Shan's adult work, in my opinion, should be required reading. Everywhere.
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
Edward Sieveking, American author, sees ghosts.
At least, he hopes he does, otherwise he's completely crazy.
In London, searching for information, Ed meets a beautiful woman.
Before he knows it, he's wrapped up in an affair with a powerful gangster's wife.
Haunted by his ever-approaching history, Ed's dark past mixes with his tenuous present.
And if he wasn't crazy before, the future might destroy him...
Plot - 5/5 Stars
It's difficult to accurately describe the plot. There are so many themes and genres perfectly merged together to create a tapestry of colour.
Lady of the Shades is a love story; a tragedy; an action-packed assassin-orientated mystery; a questionably supernatural tale; a suspenseful thriller. You'd think so many things would conflict, confuse, but Shan manoeuvres with ease as he weaves them all together.
The beginning is one his best starts to any of his fantastic novels. It's exciting elements only multiply as time passes (or the pages turn). We're treated to a slow-burning period that builds the foundations for what's to come, and they're solid foundations.
If you're looking for a book with gut-punching twists, then look no further. When the shocking turns mix with the action and the suspense and the thrills... Whoa, I still can't properly wrap my mind around it. There are a plethora of twists you just cannot see coming, but work wonders; and some more guessable twists that the author happily leads you to.
Only to rip the rug from under your feet!
On the whole it's utter genius, but you might find a few instances where confusion sets in for a small period of time. The amount of times we're told the 'truth', only to find out it isn't, are numerous, so persevere, the ending more than makes up for it.
And the end... It's bittersweet, in a way. Shan flexes his more realistic and morbid muscles for when the curtain drops. It's not happy, but then again, after everything that happens, I'm not sure it ever could be, while still being believable. The end note, is the right note.
Pace - 4.5/5 Stars
A little slow to begin with, but the meat of the story kicks in quite quickly, leaving you racing along with the various threads of the story, desperate to find their end.
It's a novel that fully immerses the reader, with a remarkable execution.
Characters - 5/5 Stars
Another almost impossible category to describe!
We have assassins, writers, gangsters, mediums, ghosts etc. etc. You name it, and Lady of the Shades has it. The cast is a cast to beat all casts! The dynamics, revelations, chemistry... Ahhhhh, it's so hard to gush and be understandable at the same time!
Ed, our main, is a complex and engaging character. Uncovering his layers and history, peeling them back to reveal his dark past, could honestly be a hooking novel all on its own. The ghosts he sees add a morbid, supernaturally charged air to the story and his character. Shan's structure connects us to the protagonist in a way that makes us feel. I thought I was going crazy while reading this. The emotions Ed experiences transfer to the reader undiluted.
Deleena, or Andeanna, or... You'll just have to pick the book up to find out about this illustrious and complicated woman. She's just as hooking as Ed, and I'm doing my best not to give anything too spoilery away.
Damn! Please, read Lady of the Shades. It has a cast that defies explanation.
Writing - 5/5 Stars
Beautiful, smooth and elegant.
Some of the author's best work, and that's saying something, considering I'm yet to find one of Shan's works that isn't a blessing from the book gods.
Overall - 5/5 Stars
Lady of the Shades is an experience like none other. Probably the best book I've read this year.
For more Darren Shan reviews: Index
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