Fri
Feb 17 2012 11:30am

Fresh Meat: Allison Pang’s A Sliver of Shadow (Feb. 28, 2012) (Spoilers!)

A Sliver of Shadow by Allison PangAllison Pang
A Sliver of Shadow
Pocket, $7.99, Feb. 28, 2012

Just when her new life as a TouchStone—a mortal bound to help OtherFolk cross between Faery and human worlds—seems to be settling down, Abby Sinclair is left in charge when the Protectorate, Moira, leaves for the Faery Court. And when the Protectorate’s away . . . let’s just say things spiral out of control when a spell on Abby backfires and the Faery Queen declares the Doors between their worlds officially closed. The results are disastrous for both sides: OtherFolk trapped in the mortal world are beginning to fade, while Faery is on the brink of war with the daemons of Hell. Along with her brooding elven prince Talivar and sexy incubus Brystion, Abby ventures to the CrossRoads in an attempt to override the Queen’s magic. But nothing in this beautiful, dangerous realm will compare to the discoveries she’s making about her past, her destiny, and what she will sacrifice for those she loves.

A Sliver of Shadow is Allison Pang’s hugely anticipated second Abby Sinclair novel, and it lived up to all of my expectations after finishing A Brush of Darkness what feels like so long ago.

One of my most favorite elements Allison Pang uses throughout A Sliver of Shadow are the touches of music and songs throughout the book to set the tone of the scene.

From Abby singing 5th Dimension’s “Age of Aquarius” to baby Benjamin, Phin the unicorn singing “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield in the backseat of the car on a road trip, to his humming Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” while getting a bath, Melanie playing Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” on her violin at the Faery Queen’s ball or playing Wolfmother’s “Joker and the Thief” to keep the mood light on the battle field, this unmatchable element of charm made the story even more undeniably endearing.

I picked up the violin case for Melanie, giving her a hug before sliding off the rock. “I feel like we should be leading a processing in, Pied Piper style.”

“I know just the thing.”  A hint of her old self peeked through her eyes.

A moment later the first bars of “Safety Dance” hummed from the strings. I bit my lip trying not to giggle. Together the two of us broke out in lopsided chorus as I twirled about her. Ignoring the stares of the elves, we strutted up the center of the caravan, Brystion trailing behind us bemusedly.

There is also a new love interest, and the new hero has me completely captivated: Talivar, also cruelly known among the Fae as the Crippled Prince, is watching out for Abby as her bodyguard. He is definitely showing signs of interest that Abby is just not catching on to. He is so uncouth initially in his flirting, but then says the neatest things to her that start out awkward and end up being really admiring and sweet.  It becomes very clear he really just has no game with humans, or females, but he is trying very hard. For her.

He cocked his head at me. “Did you know you limp when you walk?”

I blinked. “Uh, maybe a little. Is that supposed to be a compliment?”

“Yes.” His gaze strolled down my hips to my bad knee, pointing to it. “This one. It’s not always evident, but there’s a roll of your gait –here- and it smooths out so easily, almost hidden.” He demonstrated, twisting his own knee.

“It’s the adaptation to the physical issues. Your body compensates for the loss of your ability. Here.” He touched my hip and I shivered. “This sways out for the way you don’t extend the leg fully, for example.”

“If you say so. But what’s your point?”

“If means you don’t give up. Despite your limitations, you continue to move forward.” He smiled, skin gleaming in the dimness of the kitchen light. “You have the heart of a warrior. Don’t sell yourself short.”

Catch me, I’m swooning all over the place right now!  Talivar has a very complicated and painful past that we only get glimpses of in this second novel, but it left me wanting to know more. So much more about him! Major daddy issues going on for this guy.

Allison Pang created an intensely fantasy world, with an urban setting in the very back, but several other worlds converging. In front of all that is my favorite dialogue, mostly by Phin, her cat-sized unicorn sidekick. Once again, his quotes had me LOLing all over the place!

Immediately my backpack started squirming and I set it down, releasing Phineas with a quick flick of the zipper. He snorted, shaking himself out. “Gods, I will never get used to being carried around like a lapdog. Humiliating.”

“Kind of hard to be humiliated when you have no shame,” I said.

“It’s a gift. Come on and let’s get this over with. I’ve got a date tonight.”

I exchanged a glance with Talivar. “Anyone I know?”

“Doubt it. Hedgehogs aren’t in your social circle.”

“Ah.” I paused, my mind trying to bend itself around that particular image. “Yeah. Okay. Just, um, be careful. Quills and all that.”

The unicorn rolled his eyes at me. “Teach Granma to suck eggs, why don’t you?”

Yet, as much as I loved the silly immature Phin previously of A Brush of Darkness, he definitely did some character developing of his own, getting all serious and shit. He’s been holding out on Abby, and we learn just how much of a bigger role he plays in her destiny.

Another thing Pang does so superbly with this novel is adding very personal touches to her worldbuilding of the Dreaming, particularly with Abby’s Dreaming Heart, which closely resembles her home as a child. While she is in the kitchen of her Heart, she sees a magnet on the refrigerator that takes her back to a memory her childhood.

The notepad magnet on the fridge was straight out of my childhood, right down to the torn cardboard backing, the words “Chopin Liszt” scrawled at the top, complete with a bust of each of the composers. Ah yes, family dorkitude, for the win.

These touches make the experience much more real and intimate. Especially knowing that she is still sharing her Dreaming Heart with Brystion, since as an incubi, he cannot have a Dreaming Heart of his own. It has been eight months since she first met Brystion, and the ache she feels not having him in her life any longer is palpable.

His accidental TouchStoning of me had led into an intimacy far greater than anything I’d been prepared for. In a fit of romantic pique I’d offered him the one thing no incubus could ever have – a Dreaming Heart of his own. Or at least a piece of mine. The offer had been given freely, without strings attached, and I had no plans to renege on it, but it still stung, knowing that he’d left me anyway.

Owwwwwch. So, we have Brystion still in the background, and we have Talivar in the foreground, and we all know how that usually plays out, right? I will say no more, except that it makes for an interesting storyline and roller coaster ride.

A Sliver of Shadow is a very deeply intense novel full of rich emotion, snarky humor, witty dialog, and lots of past history among the characters, both old and new.  It ends abruptly with one hell of a clencher, and you probably will be shaking your fist at the author for making you wait for the third book. The good news is, there will be a third book, hopefully out later in 2012. Thank the gods!


Pamela Webb-Elliott writes Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance reviews for WickedLilPixie as Spaz. She also has a Twitter (@SpazP) problem, but is not ready to join a 12 Step Program for it yet.

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