The Scent of Shadows (Signs of the Zodiac Series #1)

The Scent of Shadows (Signs of the Zodiac Series #1)

3.9 186
by Vicki Pettersson
     
 

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When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert.

By rights, she should be dead.

Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset—a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow—seeking answers to whom or what she really is . . . and revenge for the horrors she was

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Overview

When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert.

By rights, she should be dead.

Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset—a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow—seeking answers to whom or what she really is . . . and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.

But the nightmare is just beginning—for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful shadows want her for their own . . .

Editorial Reviews

Kim Harrison
“The Scent of Shadows came out of nowhere and slapped me silly. … You’re going to love this.”
Charlaine Harris
“...Read at your own risk —it’ll keep you up past your bedtime.”
Publishers Weekly

Despite its romance pedigree (Kim Harrison and Charlaine Harris contribute advance praise), this moody, fast-paced debut falls into the growing "dark fantasy" category, which blends fantasy, comic book superheroism and paranormal romance, but holds no promise of a happily-ever-after. The book's heroine, Joanna Archer, has spent the years following a brutal attack learning martial arts and trolling Sin City, Nev., for trouble. On the eve of her 25th birthday, she finds it in the form of a peculiar date who looks like a gaunt banker one moment and like hell spawn the next. Joanna fights her way out of his grasp, but her close encounter is only the beginning. Before long, she finds herself caught up in a world where a superhuman few—the Light—fight evil from the Shadow realm, a world in which she's recognized as the "Kairos," a prophesied warrior made up of both Shadow and Light who's destined to help Light prevail. Pettersson centers her story around the signs of the Zodiac, putting an imaginative spin on a familiar setup. Though graphic scenes (in which tongues are severed, heads ripped off, etc.) will repel some readers, others will embrace Pettersson's enduring, tough-as-nails heroine and anticipate gleefully the next volume, due in April. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060898915
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/27/2007
Series:
Signs of the Zodiac Series, #1
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
622,667
Product dimensions:
4.50(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Scent of Shadows

The First Sign of the Zodiac
By Vicki Pettersson

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Vicki Pettersson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060898915

Chapter One

He didn't look dangerous, not at first glance. Still, a girl can never be too careful on a blind date, and that's why I'd insisted Mr. Sand meet me in a popular steak-house nestled in a casino dead center on the Las Vegas Strip. It was, I'd thought, the most public of all public places. Yet now, watching the way shadows from the muted lighting sought out the unhealthy hollows beneath his eyes and cheeks, and the way he toyed with his blue cheese and endive appetizer, I decided the most ominous thing about Mr. Sand was a deeply embedded issue with self-control, and the only thing I was in danger of dying from was boredom. Of course, that was before I really knew him. And before my death the very next day.

At the time I had no way of knowing Mr. Sand's true intentions, not like now. Besides, who knew homicidal maniacs came wrapped in horse-faced packages with little to no fashion sense? Beyond that, he was so skinny his Adam's apple bobbed like a buoy above the opening of his pressed shirt, while knobby bones protruded at both knuckles and wrists. Ichabod Crane in a poorly fitted suit. Not exactly intimidating.

Looks aside, the next mark against him was his first name.

"Ajax?" I repeated as our soups arrived, notquite sure I'd heard right.

He nodded, lifting his spoon, though I noted he didn't actually use it. "Ajax."

"Like the cleaner?"

His smile was tight. "Like the Greek warrior."

I mean, really.

Cursing my sister for setting me up on yet another blind date—and myself for letting her—I nevertheless tried to plant my feet firmly on the bright side of things. At least this one could walk without dragging his knuckles on the ground. And even if the woman in me had recoiled at first sight, the photographer in me had something to do.

I tried to picture Ajax in a bank, as he'd already told me how the world's financial industry would fall flat on its ass without him, but I couldn't quite imagine him languishing behind a desk. There was too much movement, too much latent energy in those snaking limbs for that. His fingers twined and untwined, his bony elbows rose to rest on the table only to drop a second later, and his eyes darted around the dining room, taking in everything but never fully settling. I'd like to still those relentless limbs with my camera, I decided. Take time to study those shifting eyes. See just who Mr. Sand became when seen in two dimensions instead of three.

He looked at me like he knew what I was thinking.

And it was that look, those eyes, that sent up the first red flag. I don't mean the color, a blue so light it was nearly transparent, but more the way they tried to own me. I licked my lips, and his eyes dropped to watch my tongue dart out. I ran a hand through my bobbed hair, and felt him following the movement so that my fingers fisted there. I exhaled deeply, forcing myself to relax, and for some reason that made him smile.

I was jumpy, I confess, but I recognized that hungry look. I'd seen it once before, long before I'd ever started dating. I'd hoped never to see it again.

"So, what do you do for a living?" Ajax asked, finally breaking the silence. "I mean, you don't just live off Daddy's money, do you?" This was followed by a shallow "just joking" guffaw, one belied by how carefully he continued to watch me.

I ran my fingers over the stem of my wineglass, wondering just how long it would take Ajax to notice that mine weren't the hands of a debutante, but those of a fighter. "I take photographs."

"Like weddings or models or something?"

"Like people. Shapes. Shadows. Usually night shots using natural lighting and gritty settings. Reality."

"So . . ." he said, drawing the word out, "you don't make money at it?"

"Not yet."

He looked at me like I should apologize. He probably was a fucking banker after all.

"Sounds like a waste of time," he said, then turned away from my stare.

His little jab stung more than it should have. Normally I don't care what people think, but lately, looking at the world through a refracted lens, viewing the worth of places and people and objects in terms of light and shadow, black and white, wasn't as satisfying as it used to be. Restless, I had recently begun taking more self-portraits than anything else; zeroing in on singular things like my knuckles, constantly red and callused from nylon punching bags, or my eyes—right or left, rarely both—which were tawny and earth-colored during the day, but blackened like a clouded lake in the dark, or when I was extremely angry.

Instead of looking for enemies in the faces of strangers, I'd begun turning the camera on myself, and I didn't need Freud or even Dr. Phil to tell me I was searching for something. Question was, would I like what I eventually found?

"Banking, on the other hand," I began sweetly, once the server had delivered our entrées, "sounds absolutely captivating. Please don't skip one fascinating little detail."

Ajax's mouth creased even thinner than his hairline. "God, I should have known by looking that you're nothing like your sister."

I didn't really consider it an insult, but I was sure my eyes had gone black as tar. "And how, exactly, do you know what my sister's like?"

"I read her profile in Playboy," he said nastily, and shoved some saffron potatoes into his mouth.

In turn, I settled my own fork on the side of my plate. So that was it.

Though similar in build, Olivia and I had taken vastly different approaches to both our sexuality and our lives. The issue Ajax was referring to had come out three months earlier, and while I didn't approve of Olivia's overt approach to sexuality, I understood the reason behind it. Ironically enough, it stemmed from the same origin as my own.



Continues...

Excerpted from The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson Copyright © 2007 by Vicki Pettersson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

Kim Harrison
“The Scent of Shadows came out of nowhere and slapped me silly. … You’re going to love this.”
Charlaine Harris
“...Read at your own risk —it’ll keep you up past your bedtime.”

Meet the Author

Vicki Pettersson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sign of the Zodiac novels, a six-book urban fantasy series set in her hometown of Las Vegas. Though she'll always consider that glittering dust bowl home, she now divides her time between Vegas and Dallas, where she's learning to like good Tex-Mex (easy) and the Dallas Cowboys (easier than you'd think).

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Las Vegas, Nevada
Place of Birth:
Las Vegas, Nevada
Education:
B.A. in English, University of Las Vegas, 1994
Website:
http://www.vickipettersson.com

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