Shadows: review

September 13, 2013 2013, 3.5 star books, angels, australian authors, demons, fantasy, K., Paula Weston 30

Title: Shadows (The Rephaim #1)
Author: Paula Weston
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Release Date: 
September 10, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Tundra Books

Shadows by Paula Weston is the first installment in her Rephaim series. This Aussie YA title has had a lot of buzz  since its release a year ago, and at long last it’s arrived here in North America. It’s certain that most fans of readers of paranormal romance who try out this series will clawing for the next. 

Shadows is based on angel lore. So yes, you’ve read the same story, the same myth, the same names, only, as in all other angel books, there are little tweaks here and there to differentiate it from the crop. But, as I’ve always said, whatever the material, if the writing is good then the book is good. 

It’s only been a year since the death of her twin brother, Jude, and Gaby has run away in an attempt of moving on, patching up the cracks her grief has left at its wake. But there is a secret to her. She doesn’t remember much about the crash and what little memory she has of her life before is all in a haze. And then Rafa and a whole host of characters turn up asking why isn’t she dead? Piece by piece, characters offer Gaby truths about her past, and piece by piece, we readers are taken aback by the genuinely surprising twists Weston has set up. 

The plot starts off a bit shaky because Gaby’s condition and whereabouts are so obscure it seems almost a let down. But then Rafa materializes right out of her dream and the real mystery begins. The plot heats up quickly and does not stop until the final chapter. There is proper construction of secrets and questions, of confusion and suspicion. And as we get more and more answers, this world of war between fallen angels and demons manifests into a woven tapestry of lust, sin, and redemption

As for the characters, there are three that stand high above the rest. Gaby and Rafa. Their exchanges are quick and sharp, funny and provoking. Rafa has the advantage of knowing more things about Gaby than she’s comfortable with but oh she sizes him up good and gives it right back to him! He’s also sexy and cocky, a lover and a fighter. And he smells of sandalwood — now, I love sandalwood, so this is like a dream come true. Gaby on the other hand is lost and vulnerable in so many ways but she manages to find ground when she needs to be strong. She’s feisty and thinks for herself. 

All in all, I can see real potential down the line for these two. Perhaps the romance started off a little too soon and there were a little too many corners of the mouth “turning up” (which is code for smiling but not smiling, it seems) but doubt not that I was just as giddy by the end as anyone. 

And then there’s Jason. He is introduced as a side character to a secondary character, no more than a bystander. But he makes surprising leaps, commanding a more crucial role than one would have ever expected. Props.

Shadows delivers all it promises in its premise and, despite minor oddities throughout this nearly 400 page book, is well-deserved of its impressive ratings. There is a girl, a boy, war, love, angels, demons and blood. What more do you need?

This review also appears on Goodreads.

Coming Soon: Paula Weston Guest Post!

Be sure to join us on Monday, September 16th, when author Paula Weston joins us to kick off the official Shadows Blog Tour. She’ll be giving us a guided tour of the book’s gorgeous Australian setting, and we’ll also be giving away a copy of this book!


30 Responses to “Shadows: review”

  1. starryeyedjen

    Loved this book! And although I love Gaby and Rafa, I agree…Jason’s character is something special, too. Yeah, this story is familiar, but you’re right…the writing makes it something above the rest. The twists were genuine and intriguing, as were the characters themselves. Great review…I can’t wait for you to read Haze so can see just how awesome Jason is. :)

  2. Vivien

    So, I’ll be honest. I don’t usually enjoy Angel novels. I know, I know. And yet, I just can’t help myself reading them….all of them. Sometimes it’s torture. But that doesn’t sound like the case with this one. Actually, my radar kept getting poked when I found out it’s setting. Anything to get immersed into a different culture right? I’m glad this was a promising read. I always keep an eye out for them, especially when you recommend :) (I just recently read and absolutely LOVED The Miseducation of Cameron Post due the to recent blog post. It was a sidehanded recommendation)

  3. A Canadian Girl

    Hmm, this one sounds promising as an angel novel. I love angels as paranormal beings but haven’t found many great novels involving them. I like that there were some surprising twists and that it had you hooked by the end, K.

  4. delicateeternity

    I must say that I am a bit of a fan of angel novels, and this looks like a really good one :D
    Materialising out of dreams just sounds too amazing to pass up, and now I am wondering why I haven’t heard of this book before now!
    I love the sound of he characters, and the plot – this is a definite read for me.
    Great review, K. :D
    Chiara @ Books For A Delicate Eternity

  5. Kim

    This is definitely on my to-read list now! The only thing is I can’t help but think of Angelfall (Rafa/Raffe???). I worry I’d constantly be comparing this one to that most excellent one and it wouldn’t be quite fair to Shadows.

    • K.

      Well, none of us can ever help ourselves from comparing one thing to another, Kim! We’re all guilty. And I haven’t read Angelfall so I don’t know just how good it is in comparison. But as much as you can, please read Shadows with an open mind, haha. I don’t think it’ll disappoint, either way, though :)

  6. Melanie

    I’m glad that you liked this one overall, K! I do agree that the romance may have kicked off too fast but I was truly astonished to see myself fall in love with an angel series.

    Great review! <33

    • K.

      I feel the same way about angel-lore books since there are so many of them, Melanie. But I feel like Weston did such a great job in shaping it and presenting it that that’s why so many people have responded so positively.

      Thank you :)

  7. Kim

    This sounds very interesting! I find it really intriguing that this was an Aussie book that finally made it’s way to North America. As a half-Aussie, I’m always happy to see an Aussie writer succeed like that :)
    The concept and characters sound very, very intriguing! Great review, K.

    • K.

      Yeah, I feel the same way when a Canadian writer gets recognized :) I really don’t know why this book hadn’t been picked before now. Give it a try, Kim!

  8. Wendy Darling

    There is SO much love for this book around the blogosphere, I’m glad you had a chance to read it, K! I am mightily intrigued by where this story is going next. Whhhhy are we a year behind the rest of the world when it comes to this series? So sad.

    • K.

      Ugh, I know. It’s not fair. There’s no logic to it. Anyway, yes, this book definitely left on a very interesting note. I love how it actually IS mysterious instead of a mystery but is obvious. I’m intrigued and am surely on the look-out for HAZE.

    • K.

      Yes, I love it when a seemingly inconsequential character comes out of nowhere and BOOM he or she is actually really important, haha!

      I love sandalwood — not sure where I can direct you for a sniff…hmm…Google?

  9. Keertana

    I absolutely LOVE this series and the sequel is MUCH better, IMO, which means it only gets better from here. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, K. It’s hard not to, I think, with such an intriguing plot line and kick-ass cast, not to mention RAFA!*swoon* ;) Anyway, I can’t wait for Weston’s guest post, now! :D

    • K.

      YAY! We’re excited to have her as well! It’s great to hear that the series gets better, instead of the other way around.

  10. Melliane

    it’s sometimes difficult when the romance starts too soon I confess I often have this problem. But the story sounds interesting. thanks for the review!

    • K.

      Yeah, that was probably the main issue with me just because so much has been said about this pairing. I, personally, prefer a slow romance but obviously MOST people had no problem, haha. But, in the end, I’m craving for more, that’s the important thing, right?

  11. Lauren @ Love is not a triangle

    YAY for this review! I agree so much. Even though this book includes some well used angel lore themes, this book stands out. I think for me it’s the humanity in the story, especially Gaby’s own journey and struggles and all the drama that creates with everyone else that has drawn me in so much. Oh and Rafa of course. Though I’d say that the third character who stood out to me was Jude – and he wasn’t even in the book. He is one of those absent characters that leave you aching to have known them. Knowing that book 2 HAZE was out there in the world, I could not pass it by so I bought it and read it too, and it is BETTER. I actually think that the romance has been paced perfectly. I love the way it began with that first kiss and Weston somehow manages to keep up the tension and add to it. LOVE that this gets a positive vote from you!

    • K.

      I’m jealous you got to read HAZE already, Lauren. I may have to pull some strings and get my hands on an early copy. This one just came out! Anyway, I really do like the fact that behind all of this angel stuff and romance stuff, that it’s about a girl who’s just missing, loving and searching for her brother. The love really shines through and its nice to have something genuine like that be the backbone of a paranormal. So often do we get sidetracked by all the magic and sexy-sexy.

  12. Carina Olsen

    Oh, fine. Everyone seems to have loved this book :) Glad you did too. I might have to check it out more ;p glad the romance was good and that you liked the story.

  13. Amy

    This sounds like a good book. I am very hit or miss when it comes to enjoying angel books. More of the time they don’t work for me. If I had more time I might check this out, but I don’t really think it would be totally for me. Great review!!

  14. Sam (Realm of Fiction)

    I’m really glad you liked this overall, K! I agree that some of the twists were genuinely surprising. It’s been a while since I last read this book, but I remember thinking about how unpredictable a lot of it was. The romance did start off a little soon, though I’m far too invested in Rafa and Gaby’s relationship now to really care. ;) I hope you enjoy the sequel! I liked that one too but the ending is a little agonising.

    Lovely review!

    • K.

      There was the twist about that character that really surprised me and it made me smile because so often can the twists be predicted. And I was genuinely clueless as Gaby was, which was great, because again, sometimes the character doesn’t know yet but we already do and it sucks out all of the fun.

      The romance was sort of instant, I think. There was a little more preoccupation on physical hotness than I would’ve liked. BUT I really liked their last couple of scenes. And the little preview of HAZE in the end was just painfully good.

    • K.

      It’s always awesome having contacts, isn’t it. Shadows definitely has that addictive after effect so I can see why your friend would be gushing to you. By the way, yes, read it.