Early Review: Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla

December 3, 2011 Review 14

Early Review: Shaedes of Gray by Amanda BonillaShaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla
Series: Shaede Assassin #1
Published by Penguin on December 6th 2011
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Fiction, Romantic
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Sexual Content: One moderately graphic sex scene.
Reviewed by: Abigail
2 Stars

In the shadows of the night, Darian has lived alone for almost a century. Made and abandoned by her former love, Darian is the last of her kind-an immortal Shaede who can slip into darkness as easily as breathing. With no one else to rely on, she has taught herself how to survive, using her unique skills to become a deadly assassin.When Darian's next mark turns out to be Xander Peck, King of the Shaede Nation, her whole worldview is thrown into question. Darian begins to wonder if she's taken on more than her conscience will allow. But a good assassin never leaves a job unfinished...

Assassin for hire is becoming a popular job for urban fantasy heroines.  We’ve already got Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series from Pocket Books, going strong at five books with the sixth due out in early 2012.  And this month we meet a new assassin in SHAEDES OF GRAY, the first book in Amanda Bonilla’s new Shaede Assassin series from Signet Eclipse.

Since comparisons between the two are inevitable, lets get those out of the way first.  Like Estep’s Gin, Bonilla’s Darian is more than human.  She’s a Shaede, a being of immense strength and speed capable of disappearing in shadows.  Both share a similar code of ethics where killing is concerned: only bad guys are allowed.  Both are also aggressive loners, but where Gin has no problem picking up guys when the mood strikes, Darian has certain self imposed rules about falling in love.  She’s been burned before and doesn’t intend to ever let it happen again.

Which brings me to the first, of unfortunately many, gripe with this book.  Darian is deliberately prickly and very cool towards her main love interest, Tyler…yet he pants after her like a puppy. I didn’t get it.  And when certain revelations about his devotion are explained, it made even less sense that he would choose her.  Tyler, apart from his misplaced affection, was at least likeable, the other love interest was anything but.  Xander, the Shaede King, is in a twisted round-about-way related to Darian.  They both know it.  It’s super creepy.  And yet, he pursues her and she has to struggle with her desire for him.  Every scene where they were touching each other I literally cringed while reading.  I had other problems with the small feeling scope of the world, the lack of explanation where the potentially interesting mythology was concerned, and general averageness of the writing.

Judging by some of the other early reviews floating around for SHAEDES OF GRAY, I appear to be in the minority, but I just did not connect with this book.  I found the protagonist to be too hard, one love interest inexplicable devoted, and the other way left of my ick factor line since he was basically her grandfather/father-in-law, and the writing—especially the dialogue—to be a little forced and even verging on cheesy in places. Do check out some other reviews before you make your decision about this book and the second book in the Shaede Assassin series entitled BLOOD BEFORE SUNRISE which will be published on July 3, 2012, but this just wasn’t for me.

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14 Responses to “Early Review: Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla”

  1. magikkalme2

    I actually obtained an ARC for this book and really enjoyed it. The perceived "ick" factor regarding Darian and Xander's relationship is way off. They are in no way blood related. Yes, Azriel is Xander's son and Darian believed that Azriel was her creator, but they are no more related than a Vampire and his or her turned children.
    Also, Tyler may come off as being over zealous in his pursuit of Darian but he's a very selfless character. His desire to protect her out ways his need to dominate and be an Alpha male.
    All in all, I think Shaedes is an excellent start of a new series. It introduces the key players, explains the world they live in and leaves the characters with plenty of room to grow as the series progresses.

  2. Cassy

    Yikes!!! What an UGLY review! Then I got to the line: "Xander, the Shaede King, is in a twisted round-about-way related to Darian." I realized you weren't even paying attention. Darian is in no way related to Xander. I wonder what else you missed? I've read Shaedes of Gray and I loved it! I understand that people's taste vary and that this book may not be your cup of tea. What I don't like is that you could write such an ugly review after not really reading the book. I've read "average" writing and I whole-heartedly disagree that Amanda Bonilla is an average writer. I urge your followers to check out other reviews of Shaedes. There is a reason you are in the minority.

  3. Abigail

    Magikkalme2 – Some of my favorite blogger friends enjoyed this book a lot, which is why I chose to link to two 5/5 reviews. I deliberately chose the words 'in a round-about-way related' as opposed to blood related when I described the relationship connections between Darian and Xander. I understand the vampire/sire relationship, but this was explained a little differently and that's why it triggered my ick factor. We can debate the grandfather link, but the father-in-law relationship is there.

    I did say that Tyler was likable and I would actually describe him as being more of an Alpha male than a beta, but given the stage of their relationship when the book started, I really didn't see why he was so devoted to Darian. He made a huge commitment to her and my impression was that it was unwarranted. You are absolutely right that he was selfless, I just question whether or not Darian was deserving of that selflessness. I am glad that you enjoyed the book so much, I really wish I could say the same.

    Cassy – Wow, I always strive to be fair and avoid inflammatory remarks in my reviews even when I review a book that didn't work for me. I did clearly explain the aspects of this book that I didn't enjoy as well as pointing out the fact that many other reviewers disagreed with me. I deliberately included two of the most positive reviews that I could find for my readers so that they could compare my review with others and even went so far as to encourage them to read them.

    As you said, people's taste levels vary and not every book is going to be everyone's cup of tea, a fact that I acknowledged freely in my review, I personally love reading both positive & negative reviews (as long as they are well thought out and explained without bashing) and while I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, I will always give my honest opinion about the books I review here. I understand that your reading experience was vastly different from mine, but as my review is limited to my experience only, I stand by it.

    I assure you I did read this book in its entirety, and if anything, I pay more attention to books that aren't working for me so that I can more clearly explain that in my review (you can read my comment above if you want to see my thoughts on the relationship dynamic between Darian and Xander). I'm not sure what parts of my review you are referring to when you repeatedly use the word 'ugly' but I would ask you to refrain form resorting to ad hominem attacks because you disagree with my opinion in any future comments you leave on my blog.

  4. WickedLilPixie

    Good review Abigail, thanks for referring to our review as well. Sorry to hear you didn't like it.

    Cassy – Now this isn't my blog, but my review is linked as one of those who loved the book. Thus I got the update that you commented.

    First off, you're comment is UGLY. There's this thing we all have and it's called an opinion. There was ZERO reason for you to get nasty, NONE. Did you write the book? No.

    Second, Abigail is right in a weird way Darien IS related to Xander. Same ultimate creator.

    Unless you were in the house with her, you have zero proof that she "didn't" read the book. I can't figure out what you are trying to do with your comment make her re-read it so she can say she loves it too just to fit in??

    She didn't like the book, so what? Unless you wrote it, don't take other peoples opinions so freaking seriously.

  5. Cassy

    Whooaaa, hold on a sec! I wasn't trying to get nasty! By 'ugly' I meant it sure seemed like the blogger was uncharacteristically going out of her way to be mean to the writer. So she didn't like the book-that's fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion and interpretation. I apologize that I interpreted your review as anything other than simply your review on a book.

  6. Abigail

    Cassy – That couldn't be further from the truth. I felt physically ill writing this review because that author has been sooo nice and a great supporter of book bloggers in general. I would never, ever be mean to an author, least of all someone as nice and friendly as this author.

  7. Marg @ Clockwork Reverie

    What the frak? How was Abigail being mean to the author? She pointed out what she felt were shortcomings of the book in a well-thought out and fairly polite manner. None of her statements were offensive or malicious.

    A negative review doesn't automatically equate to being mean, and it is no less valuable or valid than a positive review. People who can't help but get their panties in a bunch over negative reviews should maybe consider not reading them.

    And btw, the reason this is one of my favorite and most often visited blogs is because I know that the reviews on here are well-written and HONEST without bullshitting or sugar-coating (unlike some other blogs out there). Also, I don't always agree with the reviews, but I always find them informative.

    @Abigail – Thanks for the review! I actually just received a copy of this book from the author and am now starting to read it. I'm curious to see how my opinions will compare to yours. 🙂

  8. Stephie

    I was surprised when I saw that you only gave it two stars when the other reviews I read had been so positive. But after actually reading your review I can understand why.

    It is a little weird how being romantic with a vampire sire is considered norm but the grand sire is icky. I have to agree though. Did it remind you of Friends when Monica makes that joke about saying 'that's not how your Dad does it.' So gross!

    I read the excerpt on the authors site and I thought that this was going to be one of those books where the main character and her obvious love interest get together really early in the book but you get the feeling of back story between them so its not the instalust that can too easily make the love interests seem shallow.

    I was a bit worried about the King thing as a romance anyway because when one is so dominant and the other is an outcast only just discovering things about herself it felt a bit like an unhealthy power imbalance. Although having said that I haven't read it yet so this is all speculation.

    I don't like her creator ex boyfriends chapies name though so I hope he doesn't come up too often.

    How long is the sex scene?

  9. Abigail

    Marg – I'd love to see your review when you post it…leave a link when it's up 🙂

    Stephie – I totally did think of Monica dating Richard's son on Friends! It's an interesting point about why the vampire sire romance idea is considered norm…different readers are going to have different reactions to the relationships in this book, and some are probably going to gloss right over the implications, I just couldn't. I don't want to spoil anything in the comments, but if you liked the excerpt, give it a shot…the sex scene didn't trike me as overly long.

  10. Arai

    It's too bad this book didn't work out. I know that I've had it on my tbr pile since about September, right about the same time I put "Shadow Kin" by M. J. Scott on there. The latter book proved to be such a disappointment to me that I was really holding out hope for this one.

    Needless to say, I'll still read it, just in case (crossing fingers), but thanks for your thoughts!

  11. Abigail

    Arai – Oh no, you didn't like SHADOW KIN? I've been trying to carve out some time to read it…love the cover & description.

  12. Arai

    Abigail- I started reading "Shadow Kin" and liked the world well enough, but it just didn't hook me in. I got about halfway through, got frustrated, and put it aside to try again later. I'm still holding out hope it turns out to be one of those secret books that blows you away in the second half.

  13. Katie Clapsadl

    Abigail, I enjoyed Shaedes of Gray, but I do agree that there was a certain ick factor involved. I mean yeah, there was no blood relation per se, but Xander was not only her "grandsire" in vampiric type terms, but also kinda like her father-in-law. I didn't really think about it too much before. Yeah, I hope that whole thing gets wiped out of a possibility in the next book.

  14. Abigail

    Aria – I'll keep my expectations in check when I read it. Thanks for the info.

    Katie – Agreed. Based on how this one ended, I think that's probably likely…