Review: A Sliver of Shadow by Allison Pang

A Sliver of Shadow
I read this book and found myself rather stunned by my reaction to it. I didn’t like it. The end had some good action scenes and interesting developments, which brought my enjoyment up, but I still wasn’t very pleased. How did this happen? I loved the first book. At first I thought my lack of enjoyment might have been due to the fact that Abby’s with another man—I get attached and have a hard time letting go—but nope. I had too many other problems for that to be the reason. (Although that did bug me)

Abby found herself in one bad situation after another in the first book, but a lot of that was due to her ignorance of the world she was living in. Who could expect her to stay out of trouble, or realize when she’s being manipulated, when no one bothered to teach her the rules? But she was wise to it by the end of the book. So it was pretty surprising (and disappointing) to see her still getting the shaft in this book. I have no problem with her taking a stand and being willing to fight for it, but she was once again willing to let herself be used left and right. Brystion was right to question why she cared so much. She was shafted so many times that by the end of the book I didn’t understand why she even liked those people. Her worth always boiled down to how useful she could be to them. She was always the one to sacrifice.

Okay, to be fair, I know why she cared in the beginning. She couldn’t stand the thought of sitting by and doing nothing while people she knew started dying around her. Not when there was a possibility she could help. I get it and I don’t blame her for that, but as more and more crap piled on her, it was hard to understand why she continued to care. I think I would have respected her more if she gave all of them the finger and valued herself more than them for once. Especially after she was shown time and time again that she didn’t matter. She learned some things about her past that cast a harsh light on her whole life and yet she still sacrificed. I pitied her by the end. She really deserves a better group of people surrounding her.

I thought that the charm of the first book was missing in this one. The humor was subdued and I missed the levity that it would have provided during the grim moments. Abby seemed beaten down and that brought the tone of the whole book down. Or maybe that was just me getting more and more angry with her so-called friends? 😉 I liked the overall plot, though. So many details about the events going on were a mystery that it drove me a bit nuts, but I also kind of liked it. The treachery kept deepening and twisting, and involving more people with separate motives. I liked getting to see the faery court and getting to see the uncertain politics ruling the land, although it did eventually cement my dislike of them as a whole.

One of my biggest disappointments in the book was the development of a new love interest for Abby. I really, really liked the connection between her and Brystion in the first book and was looking forward to seeing them work through their issues and find a way to be together. Imagine my surprise to find that it has been around six months since the last book, and they are the same point we left them. Brystion has, unfortunately, had to turn to other women. Such is the life of an incubus. I wasn’t thrilled by that, but I can’t fault a guy for surviving. But they both still have strong feelings for each other and can’t seem to give up on each other.

Abby becomes determined to move on and hooks up with another man. I can’t really fault her, because fair’s fair, but I did not enjoy being stuck reading about it—and I found the eventual reveal about their connection together kind of creepy. I had the silly idea that Abby moving on might be the catalyst for her and Brystion getting back together, but nope. Her relationship with the new guy just keeps on going. It’s not a love triangle in the normal sense, but it does eventually get weird. We don’t see Brystion for most of the book and when he does eventually show up, Abby finds herself conflicted. A really weird dynamic develops and I started to wonder if we were headed toward threesome territory. I found the whole kind of strange, to be honest. And I felt a bit jerked around. What was the point of having me become invested in Brystion in the first book if he was going to be replaced?

The end started to pick up and I found myself more engaged than I had been by the rest of the book. I enjoyed what developed, even though it was more of the same in regards to Abby’s lot in life. It was interesting to get more information on some of her friends’ pasts and to see how they related to their present situation. I am reluctantly curious to see what impact the end events will have and how they’ll fix it. I read the excerpt for the next book at the end and now found myself wavering on whether or not I’ll continue this series. I didn’t think I would, but the excerpt has me curious. I’m just not sure. I guess I’ll know for sure by the time the next book is released.

Favorite Quote:

On sudden impulse, I reached out to stroke the perfect seashell point of his ear. He stilled, silent except for a sudden intake of breath, his eye becoming languid and half lidded. The pulse at his neck jumped, ruining the effect.

“You do realize that’s the elvish equivalent of cupping my balls, right?”

I jerked my hand away. I hadn’t meant to be quite that forward.

Rating: C-
A Sliver of Shadow by Allison Pang
February 28th 2012 by Pocket
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  1. says

    Great review, Catherine. I can’t say I was that enamoured with the first book (6/10) and I was back and forth about whether to give book 2 a go as everyone seems to rave about the series. Now having read your review, I think I would just find it all a bit annoying LOL So you’ve helped me make a decision – I think I’ll stay away from this one…

    • says

      If you weren’t as impressed with the first book, I think there’s a good chance you’d like this one even less. It’s probably for the best that you skip it.

  2. sara says

    I was afraid this would happen. I found myself loving book #1, but mostly because of the author’s voice. I actually found the plot a bit convoluted and at the same time predictable, but all of that was easily overlooked because it was such a smooth, funny read. I’ve been hesitant to pick up book #2 since I wasn’t sure that the great voice was enough to carry two plots.

    Actually, I felt this way about a whole lot of UF debuts last year. I have this suspicion that the market is getting so crowded that publishers and agents are looking for that ‘special something different’ and taking chances on great voices at the expense of books with solid plots and character development all the way through. When I think about the series that debuted 5-10 years ago, few were as out-right charming as A Brush of Darkness, but I had a lot more confidence in making them auto-buys.

    Or my suspicion might be total BS and I just haven’t read enough UF last year.

    • says

      You’re right about the issues you mentioned with the first book. They were there, but the book as a whole was so pleasing that it was easy (for me) to disregard.

      No, I think you’re right. They weren’t all like that, but enough of them were to frustrate me. Every UF out there seems to be part of a series, but I’ve found that even if I enjoy one book, that’s no guarantee that I’ll enjoy the series. It’s like the book is solid instead of the series itself being solid. Does that make sense?

  3. Heather says

    I’m so depressed after reading your review! Brush of Darkness was one of my favorite reads from last year, and I was so looking forward to this book. I love Brystion and Abby! I don’t want a whole book about some other guy…that’s just so disappointing. I guess I’ll read it for Phin and skim the rest.

  4. says

    I haven’t started this series yet, but to read that the heroine is kind of a wimp is not endearing it to me. Sorry you are so disappointed with it.

    • says

      I honestly don’t know. That’s what I find irritating about having so many series running around these days. Even if I get frustrated and don’t want to follow the characters anymore, in the back of my head I always wonder about how loose ends in the plot will be resolved or how things will develop as a whole. My inability to easily let go is irritating.