Shade Fright (Valerie Stevens 1) Paperback – 1 Mar 2010
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"Canadians will never look at a $50 dollar bill the same way again..." "Shade Fright delivers a uniquely Canadian urban fantasy experience with universal appeal." "Move over Chicago - Calgary's Valerie Stevens is Canada's answer to Harry Dresden." --"Funny, action-packed and takes no prisoners. An urban fantasy thriller with a terrific cast of supernatural characters." "Entertaining from first to last page. Shade Fright is an urban fantasy delight. - "Shade Fright is playful and preternatural, fresh and funny. Valerie Stevens is a new northern, kick-ass heroine with smarts and style."
About the Author
Sean Cummings is a comic book geek, superhero junkie, zombie fan and a total nerd. (He's also a gold mine of completely useless information about films made prior to 1960. Don't get him started on 'Arsenic and Old Lace' because he won't shut up about it. ) He's been writing since 1978 (as a means of liberating his 'inner nerd'). His interests include science fiction, the borg, cats with extra toes, east Indian cuisine and quality sci-fi movies/television. He's a Barclay's Premier League fan with a soft spot for Blackburn, Norwich City FC and Tottenham Hotspur. (Though the latter consistently break his heart more often than not.) When he's not collecting comic books or attending the latest science fiction convention, he can be found in his home office, writing away like a man possessed. Sean's published works include Shade Fright (Snowbooks 2010) Funeral Pallor (Snowbooks 2010) and Unseen World (Snowbooks 2011).
Top Customer Reviews
The heroine of the piece is Valerie Stevens who works for a Canadian government department set up to investigate and control paranormal activity. She has the usual sidekicks: Dave, her opera-singing dump-truck driving boyfriend; the ghost of former Prime Minister William MacKenzie; and an ex-attorney Zombie named Caroline. There's also Valerie's mentor and tutor, a 400- year old Dwarf Mage known only as D.T. And the story? Things are dying. Trees, birds, you name it. Some evil creature is working its way up the food chain toward the humans and Valerie in particular... read on. The plot has many twists and a zillion characters.
This is a fun book; it romped along at a furious pace. It's the first in what appears to be an intended series. One thing that struck me was that it did feel at times as if this were the second, or even third, book, as a great deal of history for the central characters went unexplained. I don't expect entire histories -- that becomes boring -- but there were apparently significant points alluded to that were never fully explained. As a result the one character that stood out as a `real' person was not Valerie Stevens but the gun-wielding zombie, Caroline. Now she has some mileage as a character in future adventures.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Along with Valerie, we get to meet her Zombie friend Catherine, A ghost named Bill, her human boyfriend, Dave and more. People that are a part of her life and that help her deal with the craziness that is going on.
I have to say that it took me a while to get into this book. It's fair to say that I wasn't in the best of reading moods when I started it and I had to take a break of about a month before I could go back and actually finish it. I feel like the story took a while to pick up and for things to start to happen, so I got distracted a lot.
However, when I got back to reading Shade Fright, I quite enjoyed it. I did really like the characters, specially the cast of secondary ones that make up Valerie's life. I did feel that some of the references went over my head, because I don't know a lot about Canada, but the book was enjoyable nonetheless.
Valerie is a great Urban Fantasy heroine, if a bit different from the rest. I loved her quirky relationship with Dave and I am definitely looking forward to reading more of her adventures!
Originally Posted at Welcome to Larissa's Bookish Life
But Valerie's job isn't all peaches and cream. There are plenty of supernatural beings who refuse to negotiate and are determined to cause trouble. That's when Valerie rolls up her sleeves and gets stuff done to keep us normal people safe. Only a handful of people know what Valerie actually does for the government, so her job isn't exactly glamorous. And there are plenty of times her job's downright dangerous, but it still sounds like a pretty cool job to have.
Oh yes, the plot! I should mention that. Okay, so we get a little introduction to Valerie, what she does, and her boyfriend Dave who drives a dump truck. Pretty cool. We follow our intrepid heroine out to an Alberta farm where a grain bin has disappeared into thin air and has been replaced by a three hundred foot hole in the ground. Also the grass and trees located around the grain bin have mysteriously died. Valerie rightly suspects something supernatural is running amok and begins to investigate in earnest. Soon Valerie discovers the missing grain bin is just a warning sign of a greater and more nefarious plot that endangers not only Canada, but perhaps the world. Fortunately, Valerie's got plenty of help: the ghost of a former Canadian prime minister, her best friend who's been turned into a zombie...kind of sort of (it's complicated), and her magical mentor a dwarf troll who looks a little like Yoda.
I have to admit, I was personally very interested in this book. There were a few parts in the middle I shook my head at, but it's only because I'm a stickler for using thou and thee. (Yes, there are rules to it.) The characters are interesting, the plot engaging, and the writing enjoyable. For the first of a series of books it's a very promising start and I hope to hear more about Valerie Stevens in the future. Fortunately there is a sequel, Funeral Pallor, which I should hopefully get to soonish. Oh, a final note on the good things: I liked the story took place in Calgary, Alberta. Not that I'm a super fan of Canada or anything, but it was refreshing to read a story somewhere different.
Canada is a welcome setting from the glut of American cities that overpopulate the urban fantasy scene. (Nothing personal against the USA; I just need more variety of countries.) Together, Val and Caroline make the best dynamic duo in adult UF since Mark Henry's Amanda Feral and Wendy, only Sean Cummings's ladies are a lot more likable. And the Ukrainian sentences have me wondering who the author's source is - do tell!
The story starts off great, but soon it becomes more fantasy than urban, requiring the reader to spend more effort suspending disbelief. The troll mentor was too much, and his really annoying choice of words. Mind you, it doesn't take much to give me the irrits, but still...
But the novel is in serious need of a good copyeditor. I don't blame the author or the editor, because they've read the book so many times that their eyes are no longer fresh. Snowbooks is an independent press that may not be able to afford a professional copyeditor, but there are so many things that stood out here that it really reflects badly on the publisher. For example, the first chapter of the next book in the series is excerpted, and I counted at least five errors in that alone, post-midnight when my brain is not at its sharpest. But the most unintentionally hilarious typo in SHADE FRIGHT is when Bogdan's name appears as "Bogan" on one page ;-)
Still, the pure awesomeness of Val, Caroline and Canada is so appealing that I'll definitely show up for round two. Let's just hope a good copyeditor shows up, too.