Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shadows Before the Sun by Kelly Gay

Shadows Before the Sun
(Charlie Madigan #4)
Kelly Gay
Release: July 31, 2012
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The electrifying sequel to the acclaimed urban fantasies The Better Part of Darkness, The Darkest Edge of Dawn, and The Hour of Dust and Ashes!
After filling out mountains of paperwork, Detective Charlie Madigan sets out for a death-defying trip into heavenly Elysia to rescue her partner Hank and bring the siren home. Of course, she doesn’t expect to leave behind an all out siren revolution or return home to find that jinn crime boss, Grigori Tennin, has begun a massive search for the divine being, Ahkneri. Tennin’s tactics set off a chain reaction that puts Charlie in the crosshairs of the shadowy creature known as Death and awakens Ahkneri from her long sleep. And when Vengeance rises, Atlanta will never be the same.  

Hank deserves more than you falling down now, Charlie. Stand and fight.

The Charlie Madigan series continues to impress and entertain me with this fourth installment, Shadows Before the Sun.

First of all, let me tell you that the above synopsis really does nothing to tell you what this book is about. In fact, the part of Tennin and Akneri isn't even exactly correct. But have no fear, I will help you out. At the end of the previous book Hank was carted off, back to his home of Elysia. This book starts with Charlie getting ready to leave for Elysia, embarking on a rescue mission to bring Hank back. No one knows if Hank if dead or alive, or perhaps something even worse than dead. At the airport she meets a traveling partner she didn't realize she was going to have - Alessandra, the Oracle. Alessandra and Charlie have a spotty history - they're both strong and stubborn women, and throw in Alessandra's mysteriousness and they don't really get along.

Charlie and Alessandra are quite the pair and I really loved that Gay finally let us learn a little more about the Oracle. I enjoyed watching the two grow closer as they worked together to con the Elysian royalty and find Hank. It turns out that Alessandra is a complicated character, even more mysterious than previously thought. Her actions and reasoning are intriguing and I grew to love her character in this one.

We get to read several short scenes from Hank's point of view and it was a nice change to see things through his eyes. It also confirms what we readers suspect, Hank is indeed alive but not exactly doing well.
Sometimes he dreamt. . . Mostly they were nightmares, repetition of his torture, of his tired soul being pulled back in his broken body. But some were relished, like those of death, blood, and vengeance against the Circe. And some were more painful than others. The good ones were the worst.
But here is part of the reason this book gets four stars instead of five: Hank is missing for 3/4 of the book. No, I'm not kidding. And these brief scenes where we see Hank's situation from his point of view do nothing to fill the void felt by his absence. I just felt like the whole trip to Elysia took way too long and took us too far from Charlie's world. Everyone is missing in this one: Rex, Emma, and Brim are only in the story briefly, Charlie's sister Bryn and the mage are never seen at all, and Gregoi Tennin is completely out of the picture.

Perhaps this whole part of the story could have been shorter? I'm not sure how but goodness it was like  reading a whole different story. Since Gay's diverse group of amazingly written characters are one of my favorite things about this series, and with the way things were left between Charlie and Hank, I wasn't ready for them to all be missing or barely around in this book.

That doesn't mean this isn't a great story, because it certainly is. There are a lot of twists and turns that I didn't expect. And like I said previously, I really did like Alessandra taking a step to the forefront. I also loved the world building Gay gave us with Elysia. She managed to create an entirely different world from Earth and Charbydon. Her famous world building is a major strength in this series.

And when that 3/4 of the book is over and everyone has found their way back to Earth? The story moves right along at a fast pace. Some wonderful things that I've been waiting for finally take place and the book's ending battle is amazing and well constructed.
God, he was beautiful.

And there was so much more to him than just the beauty. It was everything I'd learned, everything on the inside, everything he had endured that added to the picture standing there all hard and lean, a fallen angel with a tormented soul and a devil's attitude.
The introduction of a new and perplexing character, named Leander, while in Elysia carries over to the story on Earth and leaves us wondering where his story will go in future books. Charlie's connection to the Ancient Akneri is explored further and we finally get to find out more about the Ancients and Akneri herself. Questions also finally get answered about Death, the mysterious smoke-like creature who comes to Charlie every time she uses her powers and tries to kill her.

It almost feels like Gay is cramming as many story line closures as she can into this last quarter of the book. I hope this doesn't mean this series is in danger of not continuing, because I adore this series and even though this one is my least favorite so far, the series as a whole is one of my all time favorite urban fantasies. I believe Kelly Gay has stated somewhere online that the series is indeed continuing, but I still have concerns.

My hope for the next book is that we get to explore Hank and Charlie's continuingly awkward yet chemistry-filled relationship, we get to see Emma and Brim work their magic together, Bryn and the mage reappear, and we get more REX!

Recommended for fans of: urban fantasy, unique fantasy elements, strong heroines who have realistically clumsy or embarrassing moments, and sexy sirens.

This review is based on an early finished copy provided by the publisher.


Reviews for previous books in the series:


  1. It is a shame that this one which I was most eagerly anticipated is a bit of a disappointment. I will still read it though. Just not now.

  2. I appreciate your opinion of Shadows Before the Sun, it was a thoughtful review. I will be reading the book because I love this series, I hope I'm not disappointed, but I don't think I will be.

  3. This looks awesome! I have never heard of this series before, but I think I'm going to check it out and start from book one!

    Thank you for sharing!


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