Thursday, 8 May 2003

Laurell K. Hamilton: A Kiss of Shadows (2000)

Edition: Bantam, 2001
Review number: 1156

I have for some time been a slightly guilty fan of Hamilton's Anita Blake series (the guilt from the feeling that I shouldn't enjoy something as violent where the violence is quite sexual and the sex quite violent as much as I do). Kiss of Shadows is rather more serious as a fantasy novel, while it has similarities to Hamilton's earlier work.

The setting of Kiss of Shadows is basically the modern world, except that Celtic folk myth is true, and so there really are creatures such as brownies and pixies, but, most importantly, the Sidhe are real. The main focus of the novel is on their politics and relationship with humanity, to whom they are glamourous and dangerous. The central character and narrator is a Sidhe princess, not particularly gifted with magic by her people's standards, who has deserted the court to avoid her cousin's assassination attempts, and who is working secretly as a private detective in Los Angeles (a place where the amount of steel around in skyscrapers makes it difficult to track her down magically).

I tend to rather like books which marry magic and technology; here, because of its current setting, the technology is basically taken for granted. (The main aspects of modern culture which affect Meredith are things like paparazzi interest in Sidhe royalty.) There are obvious similarities with the background of the Anita Black novels, which is also the modern world plus magical elements, there vampires, werewolves and zombies; and it is likely that a fan of these books will enjoy Kiss of Shadows as well. (There are other similarities, including aspects of the characters and the tone used by the narrators.) Hamilton is adept at blending her two worlds, and while perhaps not the most significant piece of fantasy, Kiss of Shadows is exciting and enjoyable.

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