Monday, October 12, 2009

Review – Shadowfae by Erica Hayes

From the Book Cover:
Imagine a secret world veiled in fairy glamour and brimming with unearthly delights. A city swarming with half-mad fairies, where thieving spriggans rob you blind, beautiful banshees mesmerize you with their song, and big green trolls bust heads at nightclubs. And once you’re in, there’s no escape…

Enslaved by a demon lord, Jade is forced to spend her nights seducing vampire gangsters and shapeshifting thugs. After two hundred years as a succubus, she burns for freedom and longs to escape her brutal life as a trophy girl for hell’s minions. Then she meets Rajah, an incubus who touches her heart and intoxicates her senses. Rajah shares the same bleak fate as she, and yearns just as desperately for freedom. But the only way for Jade to break her bonds is to betray Rajah—and doom the only man she’s ever loved to a lifetime in hell.
Shadowfae is a very dark urban fantasy, the first in a planned series called the Shadowfae Chronicles. It is the author’s first novel. The two principle characters are Jade and Rajah, a succubus and incubus respectively. Both are under the thrall of the demon Kane compelled to do his bidding for a thousand years. As a result of their natures, events in Shadowfae are frequently erotically charged and very graphic, but what I found most interesting was that scenes involving Jade carrying out her orders and missions seemed deliberately clinical, lacking true passion. The emotional tone often reflected her characters lack of self-esteem and deepening desperation to escape her enslavement at any cost. Only when she was able to express herself with someone she truly had feelings for did the real erotic quotient ignite. Whether this was intentional or not, I don’t know, but I found it both effective and realistic.

There is more sadness then joy in Jade’s life and she holds close the few friends she has made among the fae which is why when she loses one it hits her particularly hard. Kane has ordered her to find the reasons behind the unusual poisoning deaths of some the fae only to have it happen to her friend when he comes to her sick and dying.
I hadn't said I loved him, like a best friend should, or that I was sorry it never worked out between us. I hadn't said thank you. I couldn't even stay awake while he died.
I lay alone soaked in sticky blue mess and cried, bright heat bleeding between the dusty venetian.
Poignant passages like above make a strong contrast to the unvarnished view of the seedy underbelly of the Melbourne club scene and sex trade controlled by the various factions of organized crime – the vampires. Jade views this dispassionately.
On a couch in the dim, corner, a peach-skinned water sprite with long tapered wings, like a dragonfly's was going down on some moaning mortal girl, her leather skirt twisted around her waist. Her ankles were locked around his slender neck, his long pointed tongue lapping at her glistening sex, feeding. I wondered if she could see through his glamour to what he really looked like, like I could, or whether she just thought she was getting it from some hot mortal guy with an acrobatic tongue.
Rajah reveals to Jade a way of breaking their thrall to Kane and they embark on a quest to obtain the souls needed to secure their freedom. The requirements are different for each of them and of course there is a catch – one soul in particular is on both their lists with no solution in sight. As a result Jade constantly struggles with doubt – doubt in herself and doubt in the belief that she can find peace and happiness with Rajah.
Tears spilled from my eyes, cold in the steaming water, and my hand shook in his. Was he reading my mind, now? God, I'd been raped enough already for one night. But I looked up into his eyes, and his bleeding torment floored me. He chewed his lip, his mouth tight and quivering, and his fingers strained white where he clutched the pale soap. It was okay between us; he didn't despise me. His anguish was for me, and it was all his own. He wasn't reading my mind. He just knew.
Shadowfae pulls no punches. It is at turns gritty, explicit and sordid and at others passionate and uplifting. I admired and enjoyed the efforts of Jade and Rajah to overcome the adversity and obstacles slung in their way. I also pitied the all-powerful demon Kane which surprised me. The bad guys are truly bad and the twisted depictions of the fae delightful. Shadowfae offers a fresh and unusual diversion from mainstream urban fantasy and is worth the effort if you are daring..

A prequel short story called Hellcursed is available that fills in the backstory of how Jade gained her immortality, an event that is lightly touched upon in the novel. The next novel in the Chronicles is Shadowglass due for release next March.

Author and Book Showcase

Excerpt of Chapter 1.

St. Martin's Press
Published: October 13, 2009
ISBN #: 9780312578008
Format: Paperback
Pages: 267

Shadowfae Chronicles Series:

  1. Hellcursed (short story prequel)
  2. Shadowfae (Oct. 2009)
  3. Shadowglass (Mar. 2010)


  1. Thanks so much for the review. I really liked the book trailer. I didnt realise that there was a prequel story out there. I cant wait to read it!!

  2. SciFiGuy I am loving this review cause it kinda pushes all my hot buttons in what I enjoy in a UF book ;) I like the contrast of emotional undertones you describe and the feel of the world they live in!

  3. Hi Doug

    Great review, I love the trailer! This sounds like a book for me, lol. You've seen my blog....the fae are my thing. I'll be looking for this one for sure.

    I'll be downloading Hellcurse.

    Dottie :)

  4. Great review, this sounds good, I am a bit concerned that the characters change in each book. I love that constant buildup of the characters.

  5. Alicia the prequel is a great addition to the overall story. Pretty sexy trailer I agree.

    Leontine when you think of it the reality of being a succubus is a difficult topic and Hayes deals with this in new and fresh ways. I love the Australian setting too.

    Hey Dottie hope to hear your thoughts on this one once you get a chance to read it.

    Elnice I like continuing characters too but I do find that the PNR formula pretty much requires a HEA which means each book requires introduction of new characters. The nice thing is you can bring the old characters in to fill out the cast as the story grows.


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