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4.1 out of 5 stars67
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 28 May 2001
A KISS OF SHADOWS is the first book in Laurell K. Hamilton's new series on the fey. It features Princess Meredith NicEssus, aka Merry Gentry, a politically-savvy, kick a** heroine. Merry, a mixed-blood, has been hiding in Los Angeles for three years, from her wicked Aunt Andais, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After botching up a case at the Grey Detective Agency where she works, Merry is discovered and forced to go back to the Unseelie court at Cahokia, Illinois, accompanied by Andais's personal Darkness, Doyle. There, Merry discovers that times have changed at the court. The fey grows weak, and the Queen wants Merry to bed some of the most gorgeous sidhe men in the world. In a race for the throne against her sadistic cousin, Cel, Merry has to produce a child within three years. The loser will die...
I think that this book was even better than LKH's Anita Blake series. Why? Well, Ms. Hamilton introduces a bunch of gorgeous sidhe males, like Doyle, Frost, Rhys, Barinthus, Galen, etc. Most of the Ravens (Queen's Guards) lust after Merry badly, since the cruel Queen makes all of them celibate. My personal fave is Prince Cel, Andais's darkly handsome, evil son. I just LUV bad guys in black! However, this book is NOT for kiddies. Meredith seems to have sex or sexual activities with almost every male in the book. All in all, it is definitely much more erotic, much more sensual than the Anita Blake books. Merry is 33, and not shy at all with men in sexual matters, whereas Anita had been initially uncomfortable with her sexual status. Throughout this book, readers get a sense of Merry's growing powers, as the Princess of Flesh (just as Anita's power had grown). I can't wait to read CARESS OF TWILIGHT, the 2nd book in this fascinating series!!!
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on 21 October 2001
This is the first book by the author I've read. I intend to get as many more as possible. It's a thriller, part fantasy, but grounded in the world as we know it. It is extremely well plotted, in fact it has so many sub-plots going on you occassionally have to turn back a page, to make sure you haven't missed something. It also explores sex and sexuality and its politics and, refreshingly touches on some of the sides of sex that are generally not talked about.
Ms Hamilton also creates really great characters. Given she's already written a series, I do hope she feels another series coming on. Don't miss it.
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on 10 October 2001
If you like your sex hot and the characters to linger then this is definately worth reading. LKH excelled with the Anita Blake series but with A Kiss of Shadows she takes the familiar gives it a twist and a whole new avenue of adventure and magic appears. LKHs' dark side really comes to the fore with the characters of Merry, Frost, Doyle and Andais. In the Anita Blake series she flirts with the dark side of sex and control but she really goes all out here. The storey line is a little weak but IF (and I really hope it is)this is the first in a new series from LKH then she has done a really good job of creating a whole new set of characters to build on, they connect and stay with you for hours after you have finished reading, with Anita Blake that didn't happen for me until I was well into the second book.
I loved it and I really want to read more of these characters - this book is definately going on my bookshelf as a keeper!!
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on 14 December 2001
I couldn't put this book down from the moment I started it. I am a massive Anita Blake fan and LKH has now introduced us to a different world and a whole new set of characters in this book. The world is as enthralling as in the Anita Blake series and the characters just as strong. However, this book was obviously just an introduction, and the ending has left me screaming to read the next one....immensly frustrating and unsatisfying as the story only just seems to have started. Also, the book is very focused on sex, sex and yet more sex....something a little different from time to time might have been appreciated, but even so a cracking read.
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on 19 July 2001
I was trying to hold out for the paperback, but since it was taking an age, I eventually succumbed to temptation and I wasn't disappointed (although waiting wouldn't have done me any harm!). In Merry Gentry, Hamilton has created a character similar enough to Anita Blake to satisfy existing fans but with enough of a difference to maintain your interest and not think that she's cashing in. It's hard to avoid the feeling that she was frustrated by Anita's hang ups about sex so decided to create a character that would get naked more frequently much earlier on, which is a shame. Although it makes perfect sense in terms of the storyline and world created, Hamilton does seem to be moving more towards light erotica because sex sells than concentrating more on where her strengths really lie - creating powerful, intriguing plots (having expected this to be another mystery in the same vein as Anita Blake, it was surprising to find the one case dealt with very quickly and the world of the fey taking centre stage) and independent, intelligent women who don't just scream and faint at the first time of trouble.
I'd be tempted to rate this slightly lower, but given that I was compelled to read this in one go to find out what happens (only to be frustrated by its open ending), it has to mean that, once again, Hamilton has come up trumps.
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I wonder what I would have thought of "A Kiss of Shadows" if I had not read Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake novels. Of course, for anybody who has read any of the ten novels about the Vampire Hunter and her complicated love life the similarities are blatantly obvious. We are presented again with a diminutive young woman with a strong sense of personal honor who discovers she has come into powers she never suspected she had, told in first person by our heroine so we always know everything she is thinking, including why she selects her clothing and how she hides her weapons. So Hamilton's fans will surely have the feeling they have been here before, and will be denied the perspective of fresh eyes when reading this first novel in Hamilton's new series (the next of which appears in March 2002).
This time Hamilton's heroine is an insider to the tumultuous political intrigue, third in line to the throne of her people. The Princess Meredith NicEssus fled from the courts of Faeire, knowing that because of her mortality she would not survive another duel as she was unwillingly drawn into a power struggle over the question of succession. For three years she has lived among the humans, working as Merry Gentry for the Grey Detective Agency ("Supernatural Problems, Magical Solutions"), while sighting of the missing elfin princess became as popular as Elvis sightings in the tabloid press. Once again we are presented with a world "in media res," where the back-story on the heroine's circumstances are doled out during the narrative (along with some interesting references to what the fey did to Eva Braun with Hitler ticked them off). We assume this is the same alternative reality as the Anita Blake books since she has encountered the fey. But while part of "A Kiss of Shadows" takes place in the St. Louis area, there is never any mention of vampires, werewolves or animators. Early in the novel Meredith is "outted" by circumstances, and is stunned to find that things have changed at the high court and that apparently her aunt, the Queen of the Air and Darkness, no longer wants her dead. Or is this simply intrigue wrapped up in intrigue after intrigue?
Yes, the sexuality of these characters is prominent throughout the novel, as has increasingly been the case in the Anita Blake novels, although here it is tempered somewhat by the idea that sex has political implications to the fey. Certainly Princess Meredith embraces the joys of sex, as well as the prices it demands at times, more willingly than Anita has for the most part. But then Hamilton, who has created some of the most intense scenes in contemporary horror literature, has been writing for mature readers almost from the start. There is growing concern about the sex in her books, but the violence has almost always been more excessive and ultimately more compelling. The main difference between this and the Anita Blake books is that here there is a definite story arc, having to do with whether Princess Meredith will be able to stop her cousin, Prince Cel, from inheriting the throne. As the mists of uncertainty are swept away, what is revealed is a much more black and white world, where the battle lines are clearly drawn. Certainly there are a lot of recognizable features to this new beginning, but Hamilton has always been an engaging writer and I will be interested to see what happens next.
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on 3 December 2001
A book I could hardly put down this is an adult foray into an alternative universe of humans who live alongside the faerie races. The characterisations (of which there are many) and descriptions are brilliantly written and the material and story is well paced and kept my interest throughout.
Yes, it has erotic and sexual overtones throughout but this is more than in keeping with the way that the faerie races (both the Seelie and Unseelie courts and much more) have been melded with the world as we know it. The way the other races attitudes differ from the human ones to sex, privacy, torture, suitable punishments and acceptable behaviour in general is creatively written and adds a real spice to the story.
The story is, sadly, the only reason I gave 4 stars instead of 5 - it seems to lack a real 'ending' and as such is obviously a preparatory book for the forthcoming series. All the characters play enough of a part to get a good idea of their motivations and the action and tension is excellent throughout ... so it's a great shame the book seems to just drift rather than end. Still, at 4 stars it's certainly worth reading and I for one can't wait for the next in the series.
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on 12 February 2010
I started the series as read previous L.Hamilton's books about Anita Blake. WAs hoping this will be something different. It is OK to read,entertaining in places, but again, the author puts too much attention to sex, bed etc instead of on some action. Some chapters drag endlessly and are only there so the author could describe the sex scenes again and again. Boring. The heroine has to have sex with everyone, almost every man, fay, goblin.... I thought it was supposed to be a detective story, more like Anita Blake,the beginning suggests athrilling story only to turn into little sex manual for faeries. Im not convinced I want to read teh rest of the series, I might give a try to another book about Meredith, but don't really expect a great deal......
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on 24 June 2006
My Nan bought me this book, believing it to be a story about happy, helpful little fairies flitting from flower to flower - oh, how wrong she was! On reading the blurb, I realised her mistake but thought I might as well read it even though it isn't the type of book I would usually go for. And to tell you the truth, it isn't that bad. Yes, the characters are a bit two-dimensional and the sex scenes slightly excessive and just plain baffling at times but, despite all that, i found myself unable to put this book down. In fact, I have even bought the other two books in the series and eagerly await the next installment. Why? I honestly couldn't tell you. The writing does occasionally suck ("my skin glowed like i'd swallowed the moon" is included countless times) but the imaginary world that Hamilton has created is vast and intriguing and somehow leaves you wanting more. So I guess I'm recommending this book...sort of...
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on 24 October 2001
I have read and enjoyed all the Anita Blake books. But sadly these have been steadily degenerating as an increasing amount of sexual fantasy has overtaken at the expense of other qualities (eg plot, suspense, humour).This latest book is a perfect example of this trend. Here a new heroine finds herself the only woman who can have sex with a whole string of males of various species. These males naturally have all been forced to abstain from sex and therefore are absolutely gagging for it. Lucky girl? Yes, and I do enjoy a good dose of sex in my reading, but the detail on the world of fairies is poor, the plot is non-existant, the suspense is feeble, and the homour directly apes that of Anita Blake. I did not enjoy it. The author is capable of far better. She needs to restore the balance in the content of her writing.
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