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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Vegas showgirl-turned-novelist Vicki Pettersson's debut novel is sure to be an instant hit with readers who enjoy authors like Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison,and Charlaine Harris. Blending dark fantasy and hard-boiled mystery with elements of romance and apocalyptic thriller, The Scent of Shadows -- the first installment of the Signs of the Zodiac saga -- is set amid the neon-lit glitziness of Sin City and features Joanna Archer, one of the most intriguing and unfathomably deep heroines to grace the pages of a supernatural fantasy in ages.
Sexually assaulted when she was a teenager, Archer has grown into a woman marked by contradictions; she's one of the richest heiresses on the planet but she spends all of her free time roaming the back alleys of Vegas at night, photographing the city's forgotten -- the homeless, drug addicts, runaways, et al. The camera is a shield of sorts for Archer, who enjoys seeing the gaudy world around her in stark black-and-white. This dichotomy takes on new meaning when her egomaniacal dad informs her that he is not her biological father and promptly disinherits her. When her sister Olivia is brutally murdered shortly thereafter by a supernatural assassin, Joanna's world is turned upside down, and she is thrust into the middle of an ongoing spiritual war between Light and Shadow. Following in her wayward mother's footsteps, Joanna becomes the Archer, a crime-fighting member of a much-depleted troop whose mission it is to defeat their astrological opposites, the Shadow Zodiac. But Joanna is much more than she seems; and if she can survive long enough to unravel the mystery surrounding her lineage, she just might be able to shed some much needed Light into the growing darkness….
The Scent of Shadows succeeds in large part for two reasons: Pettersson's masterful ability to create realistic and emotionally compelling characters and her witty and caustic narrative voice make for not only a darkly humorous but also wildly entertaining reading experience. Paul Goat Allen