Review: Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla
Title: Shaedes of Gray
Series: Shaede Assassin #1
Author: Amanda Bonilla
Format: eGalley, 336 pages
Published: December 6, 2011
My Copy: NetGalley
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…
Shaedes of Gray almost felt like two separate stories that were merged into one to make a full length novel. Normally the cracks would show from attempting such a feat but in this case a neat reverse funnel effect was created. I admire Amanda Bonilla for taking on such a challenge and even more so for succeeding at it so beautifully. The end result is a uniquely crafted story that flows like water. Inhaling the pages of this novel became as important to me as breathing air. My only complaint is that it was over too soon!
The world building in Shaedes of Gray is phenomenal! Darian starts off as being a lone wolf who believes that she’s the only immortal on the planet that is, up until her world collides with reality. I was enthralled by the first part of this novel. Imagine being the only one of your kind and knowing absolutely nothing about yourself. What abilities do you posses? Are you immortal? What happened to the other shaedes? These are all questions that Darian asks herself over and over again. Unfortunately for her, she receives no reply. That is up until she’s summoned by her king. What!? There’s a king? She’s not alone!? I experienced a mental light bulb illuminating moment at the same time as Darian and boy, what a trip! I couldn’t get over how skillfully Amanda knocked the Shade Assassination world on its ass and me with it. Up until this point I was thoughroughly enjoying the book but now, I’m hooked. I didn’t think that the story could possibly get any better but I was wrong!
Part of what made this book pure awesomeness was Darian’s winning personality. Resigned to her lot in life she uses her skills to the best of their advantage which turns out to be working as an assassin. She has the tough girl attitude and the “French” vocabulary (a.k.a. swears) to back up her chosen profession. I liked how much of an open book Darian is. I always knew what she was thinking and how she was feeling in any given situation. That combined with discovering the bigger picture at the same time as her character made me connect with Darian on a whole different level. Talk about serendipity!
The side characters were also a real treat. Ty’s the perfect man! You’re probably thinking that there’s no such thing but once you read this book and discover what’s special about him you’ll surely change your mind. As Amanda points out multiple times throughout the book: “Tyler never disappoints”. At first I didn’t understand the meaning behind that expression but once I did I loved hearing it over and over again! Raif is also a cool character. He’s a male version of Darian and I immediately felt the same connection to him as I did to the assassin. They’re not carbon copies of each other though, and, Raif does have his own unique quirks and idiosyncrasies. The shade king is another story. Xander is very complex and I can see him playing an important role in future books but in this instance he was just ok for me. I formed a love/hate opinion of him although, I’m not prepared to write him off yet.
want NEED this book. Shaedes of Gray is a first rate read from cover-to-cover! Amanda Bonilla breaks-out on the writing scene at full throttle. I loved the cover art, all 336 pages and the back blurb. In short for me, Shades of Gray was pure love. I will (impatiently) await Blood Before Sunrise‘s release next summer. You can’t go wrong in buying this novel for the Urban Fantasy enthusiast on your Christmas shopping list.