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Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan
Cover Artist: Gene Mollica
Review by Pamela Millar
Ace Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441019250
Date: 31 August 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Miranda has a strange talent: the ability to read and influence other people's emotions. Unfortunately, her inability to control this talent is ruining her life. After she is brutally attacked, she finds herself in the care of David Solomon, a handsome man who just happens to be the Prime of the southern vampires. As Miranda tries to pick up the pieces of her life, a rebellion against David comes to a head, and Miranda discovers that fate might have more in store for her than just being a musician.

By the end of Queen of Shadows, I appreciated the story and enjoyed it. However, the first half of the book is very slow. There was a lot of setting up, in terms of the world, the vampires' society, and Miranda and her powers. On one hand, I can understand that these things needed to be explained before the story could really start moving. On the other hand, I was unfortunately bored while all of that setting up was going on. The second half of the book moves much more quickly and is quite exciting, so if you can hold on through the setup, you're in for a great climax and a nice setup for a series.

I feel I need to include a warning: the brutal attack scene at the beginning of the book might trigger some readers. It is understandably unpleasant to read, and it made me extremely uncomfortable. That's the purpose of the scene, of course, but it is definitely a scene that might trigger readers sensitive to the nature of the scene.

I'm originally from Texas, though you'd never know it to hear me talk, and so I especially appreciated the fact that the novel is set in Austin. So many urban fantasies these days seem to be set either in the Deep South—often Atlanta—or in the Pacific Northwest, so it was a refreshing change. Sylvan is an Austin local and that definitely comes through in how she describes the city. It's vibrant and real, and it made me want to go exploring the city and the Hill Country.

Of all the characters, I found David Solomon to be the most interesting. I'm a sucker for well-crafted vampires, and Sylvan's vampire hierarchy is original and intriguing. I'm definitely interested to see more of this world in the future. Miranda, on the other hand, was a bit blurry around the edges; I never felt like I got to know her and didn't sympathize with her as much as I wish I had. I can't exactly put my finger on why I couldn't get into her head, and I'd love to hear other readers' opinions on her. She's a likable character, and I get the feeling she's going to be much more developed in the next book of the series.

While not without problems, Queen of Shadows is a promising start to a series, and I'm looking forward to reading more.

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