Title: Shadow Hunter
Author: Kait Ballenger
Part of the After Dark Anthology
May Contain Spoilers
When the author approached me to review this novella, I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t had the chance to read a PNR in a while, and there’s something about a group of people who are brave enough to face down slavering monsters that I find appealing. This is the introduction to the Execution Underground series, and it’s also the romance between Damon Brock and Tiffany Solow. While Shadow Hunter didn’t work for me completely, it did serve to get me interested in the series. But, yeah, that non-ending. Oh, how I don’t like those, so make sure you have Twilight Hunter near at hand (or at least on pre-order), because you are going to want it!
Damon is suffering from guilt and remorse after the death of his best friend and partner, Mark. Mark was killed in a raid on a vampire nest, and Damon hasn’t forgiven himself for allowing his friend to die. Worse, he has to live with the guilt that he left Mark’s sister, Tiffany, with no family. Damon and Tiffany had been exchanging letters for years at the urging of the higher ups in the Execution Underground because he was having trouble dealing with his emotions and stress. So, it was either write to someone, or pour his guts out to a shrink. Damon’s correspondence with Tiffany begins with one sentence, and grows into something deep and meaningful to him over the years. Tiffany doesn’t hesitate to pour her feelings into her letters. and before long, they have fallen for the other. They never acknowledge these feelings before Mark’s death, however, and after, Tiffany is too busy being angry and resentful that Mark was killed, to feel anything but rage and betrayal. She blames Damon for abandoning her brother to vampire killers.
Damon has sworn to get revenge on Caius, a very old and powerful vampire, so he moves to Rochester, New York with every intention of tracking him down and killing him. He is dismayed to discover that Tiffany has the same goal in mind. When she tries to capture him and turn him over to Caius in a bid to prove how loyal she is, they both get a rude awakening. After a tense standoff, Damon and Tiffany are reluctantly forced to work together. There is something not right going on in Rochester, and they are going to have to join forces if they hope to put a stop to Caius and his nefarious plot to destroy the vampire hunters.
Shadow Hunter featured one of my favorite tropes – younger sister falling in love with her older brother’s friend. I loved the twist here – after falling in love through the letters, Tiffany blames Damon for causing Mark’s death so he could bask in the glory killing an ancient vampire. Wow! Though the fireworks started exploding before she realized who he was, Damon still had to do some fancy footwork to get her to trust him again.
I enjoyed the world building and am looking forward to revisiting this paranormal version of Rochester. While I found a majority of the book a quick and exciting read, I felt that it lost steam when Damon was choosing his team, the heroes of future installments of Execution Underground. I also didn’t like the ending, which is to say, there was no ending. Shadow Hunter stops with a complete cliffhanger, something I am not fond of at all. So, while I felt letdown when I hit the last page, I am looking forward to Twilight Hunter, which will be in stores in August.
Review copy provided by author