Title: Shadow Kin
Author: M J Scott
May Contain Spoilers
On one side, the Night World, rules by the Blood Lords and the Beast Kind. On the other, the elusive Fae and the humans, protected by their steadfast mages…
Born a wraith, Lily is a shadow who slips between worlds. Brought up by a Blood Lord and raised to be his assassin, she is little more than a slave. But when Lily meets her match in target Simon DuCaine, the unlikely bond that develops between them threatens to disrupt an already stretched peace in a city on the verge of being torn apart…
Once I picked up Shadow Kin, I could not put it down. I loved the grim, dangerous world that Lily lived in, which is populated by the Fae, Beasts, and Vampires. Humans are the odd species out there, weaker and more vulnerable than the other beings they co-exist with. Peace is a shaky proposition, and safety is certainly not assured. With a power-hungry vampire fortifying his position in the city, a continued peace seems ever more doubtful.
Lily is a wraith; her mother is Fae, and she has no idea who her father is. Given to Lucius as an infant, the scariest vampire of them all, Lily has been trained to be an assassin, killing at her master’s whims. With the ability to become a shadow, Lily can slip undetected just about anywhere, as long as there is darkness. Her fatal flaw is a compelling one – she can’t use her powers when there’s sunlight. Her weakness is also her strength, though, because her vampire master can’t endure the sun. Lucius is trapped in darkness, while Lily can move between both the worlds of light and dark.
I felt so bad for Lily. Everyone treats this girl so poorly, all for reasons that she has no control over. She’s no better than a slave, really, and Lucius is a demanding taskmaster. When she fails a mission, the Blood Lord is furious, and he doesn’t hesitate to humiliate her in front of his entire court. He also never pulls his punches when his punishments become fits of rage. Having been beaten into submission from the time she was a child, Lily’s attitude toward her lot in life is convincing, as well as compelling. The few kindnesses that she has received have been few and far between, so her suspicion of Simon and his friends is logical and understandable.
When Lily is sent to murder Simon, a sun mage, her entire world is turned upside down. Instead of killing her, Simon is remorseful when his magic causes her discomfort. At first I didn’t buy into Simon’s chivalrous behavior, but he did act in a consistent manner, at least until near the end of the book. He’s a healer, and he takes his duties to save lives seriously. He will treat anyone who is sick or injured, which gets him on Lucius’ hit list. Even his brother, a holy knight, can’t understand his reasoning when Simon heals everyone he encounters. He’s on a mission to save everyone, and sometimes that even grated on my nerves, but with a personality like that, it’s easy to believe that he would be drawn to Lily, a seasoned killer in the service of a bloodthirsty vampire. Simon is wired to save, and if anyone needs saving, it’s Lily.
Against her will, Lily is drawn to Simon. He is very charismatic, and his killer looks don’t hurt, either. In order to accept that Lily would turn on Lucius, the attraction between Simon and Lily had to flash like a solar flare. It did. Even though Lily is bound to Lucius by his blood and all of the sensual pleasures, as well as humiliations, that go with it, she is still fascinated by Simon. He’s the first person to actually care about her and not hold what she is against her. The back and forth pull between Simon and Lucius had me wondering which of them would win the tug of war for her. Lucius wants only to possess her and take advantage of her powers, while Simon’s interest, though not totally selfless, was at least based on compassion and a desire to see her in better hands.
There’s a lot of action and some intense fight scenes to heighten the sense of danger for Lily. She’s a consummate fighter, and she doesn’t shirk away from a confrontation. I loved the magic and world-building in Shadow Kin, and all of the races that populate it. I liked the characters, and was surprised to feel a flicker of compassion for Lucius, who doesn’t deserve an iota of anyone’s pity! Despite wanting to reach into the pages and throttle Simon near the end, this was a tense, exciting read. I am looking forward to more from MJ Scott.
Review copy provided by publisher