Title: Shadows (Rephaim, #1)
Author: Paula Weston
Rating: 4/5 Stars
When it comes to Australian Literature, no one ever has to tell me twice to pick up a novel. I truly believe that there is something down in
Australia or some magical trick professors are teaching their writing students because no Australian novel, to date, has ever failed to keep me thoroughly entertained, captivated, and in awe. I am happy to report that Shadows by Paula Weston is no different. While its cover is not one of my favorites, its characters, dialogue, and rather unique plot definitely is.
Ever since Gaby’s twin brother, Jude, died in a car crash, she’s been having strange nightmares of battling demons with a beautiful boy. When Rafa, the gorgeous guy of her dreams, hunts her down from the short story website where she submitted the imaginary tale she believed her nightmares were, her world is turned upside down. Not only does Gaby learn that she was supposed to be dead along with her brother, she is told that she is a half-angel. Yet, most shocking of all, is that her past memories, which have evidently been replaced by a normal human childhood memories, are all false and in reality, she is stuck between two sides of a dangerous conflict between the Rephaim, the new name the half-angels, or Nephilim, have taken for themselves. When Gaby’s best friend is kidnapped, Gaby has no choice but to embrace her fate and come to terms with who she is, who she can trust, and just what lies in the world beyond her.
I apologize for the rather long-winded and confusing synopsis, but this novel has a lot going on. Yet, it is all explained in an extremely well-paced manner and I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of paragraphs of information-dumping. Instead, the details and world-building are evenly spaced out and have a very smooth and flowing transition. Furthermore, while the plot of this novel isn’t entirely original, I enjoyed Weston’s spin on it and her take on angel lore was easy to understand, made a tremendous amount of sense, and wasn’t filled with superfluous facts. Yet, what truly made Shadows stand-out from other angel fiction was its characters.
I suppose we should start with Gaby – I loved her. Her narration was sarcastic, witty, intelligent, and simply refreshing. Unlike most protagonists, I thought she handled the new information dumped upon her in a very mature manner and while she has her flaws, she remained a strong and courageous character throughout. Perhaps what I loved best about her was her friendship with Maggie, her best friend who later gets kidnapped. I’m a huge fan of strong friendships and their relationship left me wanting my own best friend by my side as it was truly heart-touching. Plus, Gaby’s love and grief for her twin brother was sharp and easy to understand and I loved the manner in which it shaped her character.
In addition to Gaby, secondary characters such as the members of the Rephaim and Jason, Maggie’s latest boyfriend, were all very interesting and brought forth a lot of humor and bad-assery to the novel. Yet, Rafa by far stole the show. Not only is Rafa hot, he knows he’s immensely good-looking, which often makes him cocky. However, beneath all that, Rafa is trustworthy and as Jude’s best friend, he truly cares about Gaby. While I’m still a little confused and curious about the mysterious (and rocky) past that Rafa and Gaby shared, I ate up the sexual tension between them and am very curious to see where their relationship leads them. It was definitely rather unique and their character personalities themselves are quite original too, which brought in a nice change to their love story.
I think my only qualm with this novel was that I was left rather bereft and lost by the end of it. Shadows does very little to answer the swirling questions in the readers – and Gaby’s – mind and I felt as if there was just too much we didn’t know yet. While I do find this to be realistic and am glad that Gaby doesn’t simply hit her head on the wall and regain all her kick-ass Kate Daniels skills that she lost, I do wish the ending had a tad bit more closure and wasn’t nearly as abrupt as it was. Nevertheless, Shadows was still a remarkable story. While it isn’t on par with novels such as Angelfall or even Daughter of Smoke and Bone in my opinion, it was an enjoyable read with plenty of action, interesting characters, and unique plot twists. In all honesty, could you ask for anything more? Plus, it’s written by an Australian and Rafa takes swoon-worthy to a whole new level, so I think that should be motivation enough to pick up this fantastic tale! ;)