The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson (2016 Review)

The Scent of Shadows (Signs of the Zodiac, #1)The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At sixteen, Joanna Archer experienced an extreme act of violence, something that stole her innocence and destroyed her youth. As an adult, she seeks solace in her photographs whilst stalking the streets of Las Vegas, using the darkness to hunt for the monsters that cause pain. Nothing will prepare her for what is about to happen however, as nothing can prepare anyone for their death.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I was at first very unsure whether or not I wanted to grant this a higher rating – yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it in some instances, but was it enough to justify a four star review and therefore dismiss the obvious issues? After much consideration, I finally made the difficult decision; I couldn’t completely disregard the things that irked me. They ranged from little annoyances to what I believed to be more obvious faults, but I’ll get to those in a moment. I just feel the need to state how much I love urban fantasy and starting a new series; it’ll always remain one of my all time favourite pastimes. There’s something about the genre that I adore, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Joanna Archer was a decent protagonist yet not overly likeable. Indeed, she experienced a horrific ordeal as a teenager, but at times it appeared she held an air of superiority because of it; continuously mentioning her own personal strength and her sister’s “innocent” weakness, it got a little repetitive. The fact she also turned to violence as an answer was in itself questionable and no doubt self destructive; definitely not the ideal role model, yet whilst these obvious flaws bothered me, I also appreciated their presence. No character, in any book, should be perfect, as no person in the real world is perfect.

I found the plot largely improved in the second half (the first half being somewhat dull), when Joanna’s identity was altered and she joined the Zodiac team. Yes, she turned out to be some all-powerful figure of prophecy, but that didn’t bother me. There was a lot of focus on the “superhero” aspect and the battle between Light and Dark, which interested me even though some of the dialogue forced me to cringe. The group dynamics really sucked me in however; I liked that she was looked upon with suspicion and that she struggled to gain their trust. I suppose I just favour conflict amongst relationships, it serves as entertainment. It can get a bit too much when the heroines of the genre are instantly liked way too much by everyone, and desired by every male.

Saying that, I didn’t particularly like the implied love triangle that’s obviously going to play a role in further instalments. Hunter seemed like an interesting character, but I hope it won’t turn out to be a Hunter/Ben dilemma – I find triangles infuriating more often that not, as the females usually spend most of their time dwelling over both men rather than focusing on the vital matters. Another thing that got to me greatly, was the comic book store scene. I just really do hate the stereotypical portrayal of such stores, and those who read comics. The other characters however were written well – even Chandra – as they all displayed individual traits and differing demeanours. Warren was probably my favourite overall; who doesn’t like a bit of insanity?

In conclusion: The very obvious possibility of a love triangle didn’t appeal, and the main heroine seemed to be selfish – though that certainly gives room for growth. Regardless of what I favoured and those aspects I didn’t care for, I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Notable Scene:

He was bereft of all his senses now, as helpless before me as Olivia had been in his arms, but instead of killing him, I lowered myself to the edge of the bed and watched. I wanted to observe the last seconds of his life, as death marched across his features. I wanted to see if he would heal.

Then I could kill him all over again.

© Red Lace 2016

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