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A Kiss of Shadows
Laurell K. Hamilton
Bantam, 521 pages

A Kiss of Shadows
Laurell K. Hamilton
Laurell K. Hamilton is the author of two New York Times Best Seller series that mix mystery, fantasy, magic, horror and romance. Her Vampire Hunter novels from Ace books, featuring necromancer and crime investigator Anita Blake, began with Guilty Pleasures and continues with Incubus Dreams. Her other is about Fey princess, Merry Gentry, who is also a private investigator and began with Kiss of Shadows. She lives in St. Louis County Missouri with her husband, daughter, two pug and two part pug dogs and an ever-fluctuating number of fish.

Laurell K. Hamilton Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: A Stroke of Midnight
SF Site Review: Incubus Dreams
SF Site Interview: Laurell K. Hamilton
SF Site Review: Seduced by Moonlight
SF Site Review: A Caress of Twilight
SF Site Review: Narcissus In Chains
SF Site Review: Blue Moon
SF Site Review: Burnt Offerings
SF Site Review: Nightseer
Laurell K. Hamilton Tribute Site
Laurell K. Hamilton Tribute Site
Laurell K. Hamilton Tribute Site
Laurell K. Hamilton Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil


'The memory of his body nude and shining was burned on the inside of my head, and closing my eyes didn't help. It had been too dear a memory for too long. I opened my eyes and watched his copper-red hair glow as if it had thin metallic wire running through it. The thick, large waves in his hair crackled and moved with his power.'
A Kiss Of Shadows deals with magical beings, originally from Irish legend. The Sidhe now have a murky coexistence with the modern world, based in North America. A nation within a nation, they are in some ways similar to Native Americans. But, the Sidhe operate according to their own rules, with human laws applying only when they're active within human society. The central character, and narrator, is Meredith Gentry, a runaway from the Unselie Court. Merry as she is known to her friends, has been in hiding for three years, establishing herself as a glamour shrouded member of The Grey Detective Agency, a firm specialising in cases involving magic. Merry was formerly known as Princess Meredith NicEssus. Although not immortal, she does have greater than human strength, and other magical talents which manifest as the story progresses. There are also fascinating if teasing bits of Sidhe history, thrown into the mix as plot seasoning. We learn about Hitler wanting to add the Fey to the genetic mix of his master race, and how the Sidhe moved from Europe to the USA, turfing out the supernatural critters already present in the areas they were allocated.

Laurell K. Hamilton has an easy style, which rattles along like a 21st century Dashiell Hammett, but with more emphasis on sex. A lot more. Princess Meredith is a very sexual, amoral creature, not bound by human standards. Sometimes this comes across as juvenile fantasy, but Meredith also shows a deeper understanding of women's power over men. In particular the power of sex when used as a lure, a reward and a weapon. Use and abuse are neatly excused by Meredith's fey ancestry and cultural upbringing. The sex is not overly explicit, but is such a central issue to the plot that it does raise some questions. Moral issues aside, is a woman indulging in frequent sex with multiple partners just as sad as a man who chooses to be shallow? The impression I got was that the instant sex was like instant coffee; okay for a quick fix but nowhere near as good as what you get from a percolator. Meredith acting like a slapper does, in fairness, have a purpose vital to the plot. But by taking this route, Hamilton purposely misses the opportunity for discreetness, and all its subtle shades. One character, for example, is punished by having his private parts eaten by carnivorous butterflies. Many readers will revel in this, but personally I'd have preferred an even balance between the history of the Sidhe, court politics, and Meredith's adventures in lust.

Princess Meredith is another strong woman, in the mould of Anita Blake, Hamilton's more famous creation, but minus the testosterone poisoning. Her supporting characters include Doyle a.k.a the Queen's Darkness, who looks like Wesley Snipes much bigger brother, and the impossibly handsome Killing Frost. We also meet Galen, not a monkey but another immortal who is an old friend to Meredith, Barinthus, a former sea god, and Rhys, who used to be worshipped as a death god. Then there's my favourite, Kitto, a rather intimate Goblin, and Cel the homicidal son of the deliciously depraved Andais, Queen of Air and Darkness. Hamilton's faerie is very much an Americanised version. Sidhe lite, if compared to the deeper understanding and alien portrayal of author's such as Greg Bear. Because of this, the cast often struggle to achieve a sense of profundity. It's as if they're actors, playing the parts of ancient beings. Luckily, Meredith's story is sufficiently enjoyable, and told with such enthusiasm, that it has no trouble holding attention all the way to the last page.

Copyright © 2005 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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