The Barnes & Noble Review
Bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton steps outside her highly addictive Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter books to introduce readers to a new series of intrigue. A Kiss of Shadows is a sensual novel of dark fantasy that will both entertain and unsettle. In a manner reminiscent of Roger Zelazny's Amber series, Hamilton draws the reader into the adventures of two violent worlds: one a perilous mortal realm, the other a place of disturbing and often deadly magic.
In this alternate reality, the mystical Fey have always existed side by side with mankind, though not always calling attention to themselves. Many nations of the mortal realm closed their borders to the Fey, but the founding fathers of the United States sympathized with the magical beings and so opened America to high levels of immigration. Situated in Illinois, the Fey lands are a main tourist attraction and exist as a kind of "reservation" of sorcery.
Beautiful Princess Meredith of the Fey has been on the run from the Unseelie Court for several years, having taken the human identity of Meredith (Merry) Gentry and working as a private eye who handles cases with a supernatural bent. During a case involving a bizarre cult and Faerie artifacts, Meredith is forced to use her magic. She is immediately noticed by her aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness, who resolves to have Meredith brought back to the Court.
The Queen sends her bodyguards to do the dirty work, but Meredith agrees to return home without a fight. The Queen seeks to find an heir to the throne because she feels her resentful and sadistic son, Prince Cel, isn't suitable to rule. She devises a strange contest between Meredith and Cel, decreeing that the first to bear a child shall have the crown -- and the loser will be put to death. Thus begins a violent struggle between the rivals that involves unbridled passions, malicious attacks, and bitter betrayals.
Hamilton has researched Celtic folklore in creating the Fey, but she has imbued these folk with a variety of personalities, from benevolent to psychopathic. This is an edgy, high-octane thriller filled with adventure and action; it's a deftly plotted tale that speeds from one imaginative story twist to another. Meredith is a unique and powerful protagonist whose humor and wit never hamper the strength of her resolve, moral fiber, and determination. With A Kiss of Shadows, Laurell K. Hamilton achieves new heights of stylish erotic fantasy with which to captivate and enchant her readers. (Tom Piccirilli)
Tom Piccirilli is the author of eight novels, including Hexes and Shards, and his Felicity Grove mystery series, consisting of The Dead Past and Sorrow's Crown. He has sold more than 100 stories to the anthologies Future Crimes, Bad News, The Conspiracy Files, and Best of the American West II. An omnibus collection of 40 stories titled Deep into That Darkness Peering is also available. Tom divides his time between New York City and Estes Park, Colorado.
Despite its modern setting, A Kiss of Shadows has all the elements of a traditional dark fantasy book: a throne to win, an evil prince to defeat and a generous smattering of enchanted objects with cool names. Its darker aspects include powers that turn the flesh inside out, various members of the Host, and one of the guards has a few extra surprises. The Unseelie Court is simply not a place that gives you the warm fuzzies. Overall, A Kiss of Shadows proves Ms. Hamilton as an exceedingly imaginative story-teller who does her job well in setting the stage for her new series.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Erotica is fantasy, but it rarely gets as fantastic as this. After nine novels featuring Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter (Obsidian Butterfly, etc.), Hamilton launches a sizzling new series that blends supernatural fantasy with detective adventure and hot sex. Here, the world is populated with various magical faerie races along with humans. The most supreme of the fey are the immortal sidhe, so beautiful and powerful they were once worshiped as gods. The fey are not only lusty but incredibly accomplished lovers; those of the royal sidhe bloodline are literally addictively sexy. Full-blooded fey are, for the most part, intolerant of cities, metal and technology. They seldom live for long among humans. Mixed-blood Princess Meredith NicEssus, however, has fled the faerie world to pass for three years as Merry Gentry, a human with some fey blood who works in Los Angeles with a detective agency that specializes in supernatural problems and magical solutions. Suddenly outed as the missing princess and fearing that her aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness, will kill her, she makes a desperate run aided by her detective pals. The queen does want her, but not in the way Merry expects. Ultimately, Meredith must fulfill the queen's designs for the future of her court, even if it means having to bed the most beautiful studs in the universe. Through constant danger and adventure, Meredith finds herself in a variety of sexual encounters that make it easy to see why her ancestors were so worthy of worship. As wild as the novel's premise is, memorable characters and wicked wit make it all delicious, ribald fun. 8-city author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
This is a new dark fantasy from Hamilton, author of the popular "Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter" series (e.g., Obsidian Butterfly). For three years, Meredith Gentry has been hiding in Los Angeles from her aunt, the wicked Queen of Air and Darkness. Part human, part sidhe (fairy), Meredith is abruptly summoned back to the Faerie Court with the captain of the Queen's guard as her escort and personal bodyguard. What does her aunt want from her? Forging alliances with powerful, immortal men and exploring her newfound magical powers just might keep Meredith alive long enough to figure it all out. Hers is an edgy story of sex, violence, and magic that manages to be both disturbing and entertaining. Highly recommended for all public libraries.--Laurel Bliss, Sterling Memorial Lib., New Haven, CT Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
An intriguing start to a new series, if even more of a guilty pleasure than Hamilton's previous series.
The stylish creator of nine Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, novels (Obsidian Butterfly, 1999, etc.) launches a charmbearing new series in erotic dark fantasy.
From the Publisher
Praise for Laurell K. Hamilton and A Kiss of Shadows
“One of the most inventive and exciting writers in the paranormal field.”—Charlaine Harris
“Sexy . . . Merry’s adventures are engaging and keep the reader turning the pages.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Stunning . . . steamy . . . an exciting and original world.”—San Jose Mercury News
“I’ve never read a writer with a more fertile imagination.”—Diana Gabaldon
Read an Excerpt
TWENTY-THREE STORIES UP AND ALL I COULD SEE OUT THE WINDOWS was grey smog. They could call it the City of Angels if they wanted to, but if there were angels out there, they had to be flying blind.
Los Angeles is a place where people, those with wings and without, come to hide. Hide from others, hide from themselves. I'd come to hide and I'd succeeded, but staring out at the thick, dirty air, I wanted to go home. Home where the air was blue most of the time and you didn't have to water the ground to get grass to grow. Home was Cahokia, Illinois, but I couldn't go back because they'd kill me if I did, my relatives and their allies. Everyone wants to grow up to be a faerie princess. Trust me. It's overrated.
There was a knock on the office door. It opened before I could say anything. My boss, Jeremy Grey, stood framed in the doorway. He was a short, grey man, four feet eleven inches, an inch shorter than me. He was grey from his dark Armani suit to his button-up shirt and silk tie. Only his shoes were black and shiny. Even his skin was a pale uniform grey. Not from illness or age. No, he was a trow in the prime of life, just a little over four hundred. There were some lines around his eyes, along the thin mouth, that made him appear mature, but he'd never be old. Without the aid of mortal blood and pretty serious spell, Jeremy might live forever. Theoretically. Scientists say that in about five billion years the sun will expand and engulf the Earth. The fey won't survive that. They will die. Does five billion years count as forever? I don't think so. Though it's close enough to make the rest of us envious.
I leaned my back against the windows and the thick, hanging smog. The day was as grey as my boss, but his color was a cool, crisp grey, like clouds before a spring rain. What lay outside the window felt heavy and thick like something you would try to swallow, but you'd never get it down. It was a day to choke on, or maybe it was just my mood.
"You look gloomy, Merry," Jeremy said. "What's wrong?" He closed the door behind him, making sure it shut. Privacy, he was giving us privacy. Maybe it was for my benefit, but somehow I didn't think so. There was a tightness around his eyes, a set to his thin, well-tailored shoulders that said I wasn't the only one in a bad mood today. Maybe it was the weather or the lack of it. A good rain shower or even a good wind would have cleared out the smog and let the city breathe again.
"Homesick," I said. "What's wrong, Jeremy?"
He gave a small smile. "Can't fool you, can I, Merry?"
"No," I said.
"Nice outfit," he said.
I knew I looked hot when Jeremy complimented my clothes. He always looked impeccable even in jeans and T-shirt, which he only wore if he absolutely had to be undercover. I'd seen Jeremy do a three-minute mile in Gucci loafers once, chasing a suspect. Of course, it helped that his dexterity and speed were more than human. When I thought I might have to actually chase someone, a rare occasion, I got out the jogging shoes and left the high heels at home.
Jeremy put into his eyes that look a man gives you when he's appreciating the view. It wasn't personal, but among the fey it's an insult to ignore someone who's obviously trying to be attractive, a slap in the face telling them that they'd failed. Apparently, I hadn't failed. I'd woken up to the smog and dressed brighter than normal to try and cheer myself up. Royal blue suit jacket, double-breasted, silver buttons, a matching blue pleated skirt that was so short, it was only a fringe across my thighs underneath the jacket. The outfit was short enough that if I crossed my legs wrong, I'd flash the tops of my black thigh-highs. Two-inch patent leather high heels helped show off the legs. When you're as short as I am, you've got to do something to make your legs look long. Most days the heels were three inches.
My hair was a deep rich red in the reflections of the mirrors. A color more red than auburn, a color that had black highlights instead of the usual brown that most redheads had. It was as if someone had taken dark red rubies and spun them out into hair. It was a very popular color this year. Blood auburn it was called in the high court of the fey royalty. Faeroe Red, Sidhe Scarlet, if you went to a good salon. It was actually my natural color. Until it became popular this year and they finally got the shade right, I'd had to hide my true color. I'd gone for black, because it looked more natural than human red with my skin tone. A lot of people getting the dye job made the mistake of thinking that Sidhe Scarlet compliments a natural redhead's coloring. It doesn't. It's the only true red color I know of that matches a pale, pure white skin tone. It's the red hair for someone who looks great in black, true reds, royal blues.