In my search to find new and interesting books to read, I came across The Darkness of Shadows by Chris Little. Talk about unusual and yet familiar. This urban fantasy shows its roots without pandering to or stealing from other similar series.
Chris Little gives nods to the Anita Blake series and to Kim Harrison's day walking demon, Rachel, by choosing to write urban fantasy, but that is where the similarities end. Little sets his first novel in what is obviously a series in New Jersey and writes a completely new history of witchcraft, necromancers, vampires, and supernatural demons and angels. There are also new protocols for the world Little builds and it is a doozy.
There are the usual villains, but not who or what one expects. Child abuse is the focal point of novel and the driving force throughout the story. Natalie as used by her parents as nothing more than a tool and she still has not gotten over it. That abuse and the scars left behind color her view of the world, but they have not hampered her ability to make a life for herself and find strength. What she does not know will hurt her, but Natalie is a survivor and she is more, so much more.
Most urban fantasies follow a formula that has gotten old -- at least to me. The Darkness of Shadows surprised me in so many ways, not the least of which was how quickly it moves. Little's writing seems simple at first glance, but there is more to the writing as well. Little makes it look easy, but there is hard work shown in the intricacies of the plot and the way information is doled out at just the right time and pace.
Though the central focus on the description of the book is on revenge, werewolves, ancient magic, and vampires, there are few vampires or werewolves seen. They are mentioned in passing and will likely fuel the continuing series. Revenge and ancient magic are more prevalent, but Little imbues the more fantastical elements of the story with a strong, beating heart that drives the action. Protectors and Healers bond and are stronger together, but secrets hold them back. Youth, with all of its ambition and passion, are central to The Darkness of Shadows, but so is love: the love of family, of friends, of life.
The Darkness of Shadows stands alone on its own merits, but I definitely want more of this dynamic and exciting new urban fantasy. And so will you.