Shadows
by MK Mancos, paranormal (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-871-2


MK Mancos, a pseudonym for the author who also writes as Kathleen Scott, offers Shadows, the first book in an urban fantasy series called The Host. Like the title of the series would suggest, hero Tristain St Blaise houses a demon-like entity due to the horrific experiments of his former mentor, an alchemist named Benito Achilles. This parasite demands that he feeds on blood to nourish the creature. For four hundred years now, Tristain has been playing the vigilante, meting out his own brand of violent justice by feeding on the lowest of lowlives while hoping that he will find a way to save his soul one day.

In another part of Manhattan, we have Angelia Lightheart, an ordinary heroine who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Most foolishly, she walks to the subway station in the middle of night. Alone and definitely unarmed, she soon encounters a man bent of rape. Guess who happens to be nearby in the dead of night to come to the rescue. Tristain is attracted to her but alas, he's sworn off women. Having a blood-crazed demon attached to one's soul can do that to people, I hear. Alas, when Angelia inadvertently finds herself employed by Benito Achilles, she soon becomes a pawn in the games played by those two men. Benito also has another trump card to play, one that Tristain never anticipates - Tristain's son Julien.

There is one thing that I find hard to overlook in this story - the heroine, in a misguided attempt to protect Tristain, does a very stupid thing that puts her right in the clutches of Benito. For the most part Angelia is a decent, if rather flat, heroine, but that moment of sheer silliness on her part is really hard to overlook. At any rate, Shadows is a rather familiar tale of the emo vampire given a rather interesting twist here. Tristain is a standard tortured vampire type, but he has his moments as the angelic being who brings death to his victims. The story has its share of good scenes, but the slow pacing really bogs down the middle part of the story, picking up only towards the last quarter or so of the story.

All in all, Shadows is a pretty interesting story due to the twists provided by Ms Mancos in her story. It's a slow-moving story, though, and the heroine's stunt isn't going to win her any medals anytime soon. Still, this one manages to breathe some fresh air into an overdone premise, so that's a good thing.

Rating: 83


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