The Book: A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton
Sometimes you just find something that is a guilty pleasure. A dark indulgence that you don’t want to admit you enjoy, but gosh darn it, you do. It’s like eating candy corn when everyone around you thinks candy corn is gross. My husband was insistent I read the Merry Gentry series, after I told him I read up to book two in the Anita Blake series by Hamilton and just gave up, tossing the book across the room in disgust at her crappy research skills and bad writing style. Laughing Corpse just pissed me off, because to me it had so much potential to be a good story, but I couldn’t get past the fact she blended Santeria with Voudon.
SIDE NOTE: Kweeny Todd in real life is deeply spiritual and studies mythology and world religions with great passion. So she gets irked when writers are lazy with their mythos and spirituality in books. It’s a pet peeve she knows is silly and only bugs her really, as most readers probably don’t even know what those two religions are and why mixing them is such a big deal. Sure, they sound similar, but they are NOT THE SAME THING. If a person is described as VOUDON then they should not be doing practices that are SANTERIA. And Kweeny knew the difference, thus she can get all pissy while reading. And so the ritual of tossing the book away like it was kryptonite to her sensibilities happens. You’ll find she tosses books quite often in fits of rage when they do things she is not pleased with. She’s a very passionate reader. For the curious, here is a short article about the differences in the two religions and more people screwing it up.
But since he said he’d read it to me over the phone to put me to bed (living apart means you find creative ways to connect. And who doesn’t like being read to by someone who loves them?) I gave in. It was like having a book on tape.
And honestly, bad writing aside, its pretty good candy corn. Hamilton shines the most in her writing when she is describing sex. It’s just a fact. The sex is the main reason you’d ever read a book of hers. Several times when things were getting hot and heavy I was clawing at the sheets, because well...I missed my husband. And he was reading sexy shit to me. And unlike Anita Blake, which only later in the series get’s smutty (of course I had given up reading the series before it “gets good.” As my friends would tell me) from almost the start A Kiss of Shadows is full of sex and danger.
The basic premise is this: Magical beings intermingle with humans and have a muddy co-existence going on. Merry Gentry, our boobilicious heroine, is a half-sidhe half-human princess of the Unseelie court. She is in hiding at the start of the book because her aunt the Queen wants her dead. So she is working for this detective agency solving magical crimes and trying to stay hidden with her own personal glamour spells. She gets on this one case were women were being exploited magically and sexually, and she gets magically raped on the case with the use of an enchanted oil. There is a scene I did enjoy in the police station where she tells off a cop who is giving her the third degree about not “looking like a rape victim.” This happens way too much in real life. Also I don't really like reading rape stories, but the way this was done it almost took the sting out of it. Maybe it was the use of magic that did it. I don't know. And I don't know if I like that the writer took the sting out of the scene with magic. It also gets funny when the magical oil that is covered on her body gets all over the cops and they get all aroused by magic. It’s like a supernatural humpfest for a while there.
Of course all this leads to her being found again by people she didn’t want to find her, all of which are males, all of which wanna hump her in some fashion, and she gets brought back to her aunt the Queen. She finds out only later on that her aunt has been looking for her not to kill her, but wants her for something. Hmmm...what could that be?
I won’t spoil it for those who might be reading right now. But I will say that this book is a better book than the two Anita Blake books I tried to read. Her style is less lazy, but still not great by any means. No flowery language here folks. It's an easy read, which is good for fluffy smut. I think the fact that the fae creatures within have different standards for what is moral makes it easier to believe all the sex going on. I love the different fae creatures in it. I’m a sucker for monstrous fairies. There’s a few horrific scenes of fae magic used for terrible means, like when one is turned inside out by what is refered to as “The Hand of Power” and the poor creature would be stuck like that forever if Merry didn’t brutally butcher the thing. And I mean she hacks the thing into pieces. She has no choice. The creature is fae and doesn’t die easily.
And seriously, the main reason you’d ever read the book is because it’s hawt. Damn hawt. I’d like to see a little less of one girl several guys action, but that’s just me. Variety is the spice of life. How about guy on guy or girl on girl action?
Does this qualify for horror? I’d say almost. Dark Fiction at best. There are some pretty disturbing scenes, and some creepy creatures (with tentacles even), but it’s not horrific enough. I enjoy it like I am enjoying a good bag of popcorn, slathered in magical oil to make me wanna hump my husbands face off. But it’s no prime rib steak. But you can’t eat prime rib all the time.