Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Kate Kane, paranormal investigator, has been hired by a former hook up to find the woman’s missing brother. It seems straightforward, until it becomes clear he walked out of the hospital perfectly healthy after a recently broken leg. Too bad that is only the tip of the iceberg for what is really going wrong.
It appears someone has woken up a crazy, 5000-year-old vampire who is now amassing a giant vampire army. Kate is having weird dreams that seem to involve this vampire and signify Kate’s possible death. Soon the vampires and the wolves are fighting for the right to take on the vampire, at least two of Kate’s ex girlfriends are somehow involved in the situation, and the woman who killed Kate’s partner is in the middle of it all as well.
On top of all that, a few months ago, in attempt to save her girlfriend’s life and prevent general mass destruction, Kate killed one of London’s vampire princes. And now the rest of the Council isn’t so happy with her. Ideally, dating an 800-year-old vampire prince should help Kate, but Julian needs to stay out of this situation directly or else it will get much worse. Now Kate is being brought up on murder charges and if the Council decides against her, she is dead.
With her usual lack of planning and general disregard for her own safety, Kate plunges herself right in the middle of things. First she must convince the Council not to kill her for the murder of the prince. Then she must figure out who woke up the ancient crazy vampire and why. As usual, most roads seem to lead to mass death and destruction, and Kate must figure it all out before everything falls apart.
Shadows & Dreams is the second in Alexis Hall’s Kate Kane series, and once again he has created a fabulous paranormal thriller. One of the best part’s about this series for me is the amazing world building. Hall has put together this wonderful paranormal world of vampires, witches, shifters, and faeries. Everything is so detailed and well developed, from the politics, to the powers, to the way all these beings interact with each other. There are so many wonderful elements and even the craziest things that happen seem totally rooted in the reality of the world he has created.
The other thing I love about this series is the fabulous action and suspense. Once again, the story builds from a simple private investigation into full scale chaos as the scope of the problem just magnifies along the way. Before we know it, we have vampires and werewolves and witches all battling, crazy power hungry paranormals out to destroy the world, and Kate is in the middle of it all. The action is amazing, the story is exciting and suspenseful, and I was totally captivated as things just took off toward the end of the book.
I also continue to really like Kate. She is tough and snarky and kick ass. Kate often seems to just be floundering, but somehow she always manages to figure things out and come out on top. I enjoyed the addition of Elise as her not-quite-human sidekick and really liked their interplay. We don’t see much of Julian in this book, which I kind of missed. Julian is a “motherfucking vampire prince” and pretty much all kinds of awesome. But she is largely absent from the book, dropping by occasionally to have sex with Kate and then disappearing again. Although the two are still dating and having sex, the story is much more investigation/thriller than romance this time around.
My biggest issue here is that with all the fabulous world building and details, I found myself lost quite a bit with regard to all the characters. The first portion of the book picks up with the issue of the murder from Iron & Velvet, and we are knee deep in various vampires and Council representatives. There are a lot of politics involved — who is on Kate’s side and who is not, as well as the introduction (or reintroduction) of a huge number of characters. Honestly, there were times I was quite lost keeping track of everyone and everything. Hall does do a nice job of recapping events from first book and reintroducing us to the key players, but it was still overwhelming at times. The guys all have very formal names (the Prince of Cups, the Guardian of the Watchtower of the North), along with common names, and keeping track of who is who and what side they are on was tough for me. A lot of the time I felt like I was just gleaning bits and pieces of the story but not fully following the details. There are characters who appear often, yet I still don’t understand exactly who they are at the end of the book.
After the story shifts away from the murder trial toward the investigation into the vampire reawakening, things were much easier to follow and moved at a much faster pace. I still don’t feel like I fully remembered everything from the past book, or was keeping up with all the details, but it became less important as the plot shifted to more action. I read these books about 8 months apart, so perhaps less time between them would have helped. Though as I said, Hall does recap really nicely. I think I just couldn’t keep everyone straight, nor keep track of the details of events that had already happened. Honestly, I think this is mostly a case of too much of a good thing. The world building is so fabulous and detailed, that there is just a lot to absorb and keep straight.
Despite these issues, I continue to be really excited by what Hall is doing with this series. It is so well developed, so thrilling and suspenseful. I love Kate, I love the crazy adventures she gets into, and I love the world Hall has created. So I am definitely enjoying this series and encourage you to give it a try.