Note: This review contains spoilers for Shadow Bound, the first book in this series.
Readers of Shadow Bound may recall the death of the hero’s friend, Custo Santovari. This novel takes up two years later. Custo is now an angel, but not finding Heaven quite to his liking. He died learning that his best friend (Adam Thorne – hero of Book one) had a traitor among his ranks, and he wants to get back to warn him. He manages to get back to Earth, where he finds himself once more caught up in the war against the wraiths. The wraiths are soul-stealers who can literally suck people’s souls out of them.
This book deals with wraiths and death, and spends a fair amount of time exploring the boundaries between this world and the next. In that sense, it can often have a dark, eerie feel to it. The world Kellison creates is intriguing and in this installment, she gives readers an action-packed read.
Soon after coming to Earth, Custo meets ballet dancer Annabella. He immediately feels protective of her and almost as quickly falls for her. While instalove seems to feature in many paranormals, rarely does it work for me as it did here. Custo and Annabella have chemistry right off the bat and even though there is insta-attraction there, romance develops a little more slowly. That pacing not only keeps the reader hooked, but also made the love story feel more immediate and real.
In addition, Custo and Annabella have a lot of their plates and don’t exactly have time for slowburn attraction or lots of introspection. Annabella is being stalked by a Wolf from the Shadowlands. Custo, having come from that side, understands this this is a serious and bad development. He is determined to protect Annabella and equally determined to help Adam deal with the traitor at his Segue Institute, an entity dedicated to fighting the wraiths.
Annabella is young (early twenties) and appears to be a rising superstar in the dance world. In that respect, she might at first blush come off as a Special Snowflake Heroine. However, the author makes it clear that Annabella has gotten to where she is by putting in lots of hard work and sacrifice. Enough of the little details of character get filled in that the major characters in this story feel like people rather than simply character types.
While the action and the romance in this book kept me flying through the pages and I generally enjoyed myself, I would be remiss as a reviewer if I did not mention a few things. First of all, readers should be aware that the romance in this book take a bit of a back seat to the paranormal action plot. This worked for me and it very much fit the story, but for those who want the romance front and center at all times, I did want to point that out.
On a more serious note, as I noted in the content warnings, there are some references that may be upsetting for some. Custo and his friend, Adam Thorne, are both very alpha heroes and very protective of their love interests. Both in this book and the one which preceded it, this tends to show itself more positively than negatively, but I did still find it a bit overwhelmingly possessive at times.
More disturbing, some of the actions by the Wolf and other villainous sorts in this book felt very uncomfortably rapey and/or sexual. There is a scene in which an ill woman is possessed by one of the evil creatures, and there are also some very sexual gestures and references made by the Wolf. In the context of the story, these things made sense but some readers will still likely find them triggering so I wanted to make mention of them.
In Shadow Fall, Kellison returns readers to the compelling world she created in Shadow Bound. While this book could be read on its own, the reading experience is much richer if you also read the first in the series. Each is a good read, so why not both?
CW: Rape, references to sexual assault.