Early Review: A Sliver of Shadow by Allison Pang

February 20, 2012 Review 4

Early Review: A Sliver of Shadow by Allison PangA Sliver of Shadow by Allison Pang
Series: Abby Sinclair #2
Published by Pocket Books on February 28, 2012
Genres: Adult, Romantic, Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher
Sexual Content: Scenes of sexuality. One graphic sex scene
Reviewed by: Abigail
3 Stars

Just when her new life as a TouchStone — a mortal bound to help OtherFolk cross between Faery and human worlds — seems to be settling down, Abby Sinclair is left in charge when the Protectorate, Moira, leaves for the Faery Court. And when the Protectorate’s away…let’s just say things spiral out of control when a spell on Abby backfires and the Faery Queen declares the Doors between their worlds officially closed.

The results are disastrous for both sides: OtherFolk trapped in the mortal world are beginning to fade, while Faerie is on the brink of war with the daemons of Hell. Along with her brooding elven prince Talivar and sexy incubus Brystion, Abby ventures to the CrossRoads in an attempt to override the Queen’s magic. But nothing in this beautiful, dangerous realm will compare to the discoveries she’s making about her past, her destiny, and what she will sacrifice for those she loves.

One of the real strengths of the Abby Sinclair series is the fresh and innovative mythology and worldbuilding. The supernatural species may be familiar (fae, angels, unicorns etc.), but the rules for this world are anything but.  Creative, yes, but unfortunately, it’s a little confusing too.  Pang has really infused the kind of meticulous and nuanced worldbuilding that I’m more accustomed to reading in epic fantasy series. Most of the terminology is unique to this series, along with the etiquette, politics, and history of the varied creatures that populate this series.  As much as I enjoy all the layers and new ideas, it is a little tricky to try and keep everything straight while reading.  I had hoped that I’d have a better grasp of things since this is my second visit to this series, but I would have killed for a glossary even just after the first few chapters.

A SLIVER OF SHADOW gets a lot less urban and a lot more fantasy when Abby and her group cross over into faerie at about the halfway mark. Lots of corsets, horseback, and sword fights. For my taste, I could have done with a shorter visit to faerie, but the action and romance picked up considerably once we got there. Unfortunately, those weren’t the only things that picked up.  There is just a ton of stuff going on.  A messy love triangle, half angel/half fae babies, deamonic armies, botched spells, crazy queens,  fading fae, shocking family revelations, and on and on.  The plot got more complicated as the story progressed, and by the end, I was kind of overwhelmed and not a little confused.

Those complaints aside, there is enough good stuff in this book to make it worth picking up.  Abby is a great UF heroine.  Tough even when she is scared, gutsy even when the odds aren’t in her favor (and they never are).   The best thing by far is Phin, the cat sized unicorn who sleeps in Abby’s underwear drawer.  He was even more bawdy and hilarious in A SLIVER OF SHADOW than I remembered from the debut.  Lots of urban fantasy series have sidekick type characters, but I’d be hard pressed to find one as flat out entertaining as Phin. I’ll be looking forward to more Phin and Abby (and hopefully a glossary) when the third book in the Abby Sinclair urban fantasy series called A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT is published probably early in 2013.

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4 Responses to “Early Review: A Sliver of Shadow by Allison Pang”

  1. sara

    I've been noticing more and more with UF that there is a tendency for new series to be very strong in terms of the author's voice, but perhaps weaker in plotting… There's a few series I started last year that I thoroughly enjoyed (this one, Jenn Bennett's Kindling the Moon), but I'm really doubting whether I'll pick up #2 because I'm not convinced the authors really have a second story in them so much as a a great group of characters that they want to keep writing about. I wonder if that's because the UF market is becoming so flooded that agents and editors are looking for unique at the expense of old-fashioned story telling.

    I'm still on the fence with this one after this review. I think Pang is hilarious and I liked Abby (Phin… well, my expectations got set so high that I was rather disappointed when I read him and found him a bit of a one-note character), but I'm not sure the story itself is compelling enough to spend my money on it.

  2. Abigail

    I hear you. I've noticed the trend myself (although I did really like KINDLING THE MOON & will be reviewing the sequel here soon). I don't know if I'd describe it as weaker in plotting and it is over plotting. Throwing so much into a story to keep the tension high that the end result is a bit chaotic. I still really respond to the authors who can plot well over a series, draw out certain story lines.

  3. sara

    I did really love Kindling the Moon, too, but for me the ending was predictable from page 1 and I had trouble with a few plot based inconsistencies. Like the protag's life being on the line with a short countdown to solve the mystery, yet having time to go to the drive in movie theatre? Still, I'm absolutely in love with the characters she created and I really loved the reading experience, but I can't help but wonder if I feel like I'll like the second in the series. I guess I'm just biased toward some of the older UFs out there where the plotting seemed so meticulous (Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Ilona Andrews, etc.) that I never hesitate to autobuy.

  4. Abigail

    It wasn't flawless, and I did figure out the end too, but I agree that characters were fantastic. I'm hopeful about the sequel. I'm with you on your auto-buy authors. A few newer UF authors who have completely hooked me are Jess Haines, Stacia Kane, Kelly Gay, Diana Rowland, and Carolyn Crane.