RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Shadow Walker by Allyson James


Title: Shadow Walker
Author: Allyson James
Publication Info: Berkley 2011
ISBN: 978-0425241820
Genre: Paranormal

Shadow Walker - She's in the snow in a tank top. Great! This review was written by SB Sarah. This story was nominated in the Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category.

The summary:     

Winter descends on the town of Magellan, and new evil comes to call. Racing her motorcycle down a lonely winter highway, Stormwalker Janet Begay feels the ground collapse beneath her feet. After tumbling two hundred feet into an underground cavern, she manages to escape with help from her sexy dragon-shifter boyfriend, Mick–but not before they disturb dark forces.

As Janet contends with a hotel inspector intent on putting her out of business, and her grandmother, who's taken up residence, Mick's behavior becomes strange and erratic, until he is a clear danger to Janet and her friends. Janet's drag-queen, attitude-ridden magic mirror insists that Mick has been “touched by shadows,” and Janet realizes that someone is out to enslave her dragon.

Now she must free Mick before he kills her . . .

And here is Sarah's review:

I stepped outside of my normal reading habits for this book – I don't love paranormal or urban fantasy (although this isn't really urban, more like desert fantasy) and I didn't think jumping into a series in the third book would be an ideal starting point, either. And I definitely missed a lot of things not having read books 1 & 2.

Janet is both fierce and fragile, and as a heroine I liked her. The hero is turned into a dark menace for this book, and I get the sense that he was somewhat menacing in prior books as well. There was a lot of info dump explanation of who people are in the action of the first scenes, which slowed those scenes down and gave them less impact. It was like reading, “And then Steve, my best friends sister's boyfriend who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night, arrived with the weapons we needed.”

But the ways in which the paranormal and normal worlds rubbed against each other meant that the empathy I might have had for the characters was diminished, and my engagement with them as a normal human to another not-so-normal possibly-not-human was minimal at the beginning, and decreased as the story continued.

First, the healing magic. Janet gets into a LOT of physically injurious situations. She breaks ribs, legs, arms, wrists – she breaks herself frequently. But within a few pages, there's healing tea and healing magic and healing whatever else, and she's all fixed. So why break her bones in the first place? Breaking Janet became the equivalent of getting a paper cut for all the pain and injury-related problems she faced after each go around with the bone breaking action sequences. What's the point of breaking her in any way if she's going to heal up fine and move on 2 pages later? It made me roll my eyes more than it made my sympathize with her. By the third time it happened I noted, “Whatever, Janet, you'll get healed in a minute. Hush.”

But the more egregious flaw I had with this book was with the character's action (or, in this case, inaction) and how it diminished my opinion of her and of the story as a whole.

Janet's hotel is inspected by an over-smiling slime ball named Ted, who finds enough out-of-code shoddy work (that should have been recently completed and nearly perfect) that he shuts down her hotel. Later, when Janet goes to talk to him about the inspection and the time she has to bring the hotel back up to code,

Spoiler: Ted attempts to convince her that he'll sign off on all her inspections if she'll bone him. 

He comes close enough to assault that I wanted her to call the cops on his ass immediately. But later, when she's discussing what happens, she says, and I quote, “He’s not worth the hassle. Let me make sure my hotel is safe, and then I’ll ask Mick to have a talk with him.”

He's not worth it?

WHAT?!  She doesn't report assault, threats and asshattery? She'll send her giant dragon boyfriend over to talk with him instead?

This made NO DAMN SENSE. Janet's friends with the chief of police. He's a key component to the plot, after all, and he and Janet are running into one another frequently. They fall into a pit in the beginning of the book, so I think that creates a new form of relationship for them both. What's more, all the cops know her, and while they are wary of her because of her powers, they know her by name. They all live in a very small town in an isolated area, so there is a lot more reason to trust Janet's word. And most of all, Janet KNOWS that the chief of police distrusts and dislikes Ted.

So after all that, he's not worth it?

I lost much respect for Janet at that moment. She's got 57 problems but having the sense to actually availing herself of law enforcement isn't one.

And I'll accept all levels of magical hootenanny in the name of a good story. Magic dragon healing juju that sets bones faster than I can microwave corn? Fine. Huge storms and crazy half sisters appearing in a blizzard that buries them all in a few feet of snow? Sure. Incredible powers from Beneath and the earth and storms and wind and possibly Jim Cantore and the WUWA team? Sure, ok. I'm with you on all of that.

NOT REPORTING ATTEMPTED ASSAULT and throwing down a shitstorm of law enforcement on some power-hungry dickbag who tells her to make his cock happy because he's “NOT WORTH IT”?


Suffice it to say I was a little pissed off about the dismissal of normal world judicial process amid all the magic healing and snowing and skeletal hand grabbing.

My specific comment was, “DAMMIT, JANET.” I said that a lot.

Aside from the groaning and growling released by that sequence of events, the story has a great deal of action and the collecting of characters at the inn, on Janet's miniature journeys here and there to gather evidence and information to set Mick free from whatever is holding him, and on her trips back to the sinkhole from the start of the story, mean that there's a lot of people arriving and departing, doing a lot of different things. It's never boring.

But it's also not nearly enough realism or, in my opinion, logical and minimally wise behavior for me to invest in Janet's life. By the end I was reading to see what happened, not because I cared overly much about her. I still wanted to smack her with something.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Jewel says:

    It’s just a jump to the left…. Sorry. The phrase ‘dammit Janet’ always sends me into Rocky Horror memories.

  2. 2
    DonnaMarie says:

    Sounds like your contemporary paranormal asskicker morphed into a Barbara Cartland milquetoast.

  3. 3
    cleo says:

    Awesome review. 

  4. 4
    SonomaLass says:

    Someone was tweeting about this book, in particular the “he’s not worth it” excuse. UGH!! Because she’s totally not going to feel guilty when this sleazeball (whom she could have nailed, and not in the way he’d like it) goes on to assault someone with less strength, no magic healing, and fewer friends in high places.

  5. 5
    kkw says:

    The only vaguely entertaining thing about this series is the chief of police, and only because he dislikes Janet as much as the rest of us.  So not going to discuss things with the cops is a failure on another level as well.
    You know what’s not worth it? These books (but great review).

  6. 6
    Laskiblue says:

    I’ve not read this book, but the way it’s described in the review reminds me strongly of Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series, which I enjoyed at first and then burnt out on for many of the reasons Sarah mentioned.

  7. 7
    MaddBookish says:

    But the next line would be “I love you!”

  8. 8
    MaddBookish says:

    Oh, Brad, I’m mad!

    I’ve not picked this series up, though, I was thinking about it after reading a novella based on it in Hexed . This is not encouraging.

  9. 9
    Patrice says:

    I liked book 1 and I’m pretty sure I bought book 2 as well. I didn’t get that Janet was a mary-sue, but she’s either hiding out or not comfortable with her “powers” yet. Isn’t there some Native American myth/legend entwined here that she was in the process of discovering? It’s been awhile since I read them, but I know I enjoyed them. Allyson James definitely writes stories with good, fast pacing. And about the slime ball not being worth the trouble – if I recall previous situations with Mick (a mysterious dragon shifter) correctly, I’d assume Janet meant she didn’t want the assaulter to be tied up in the courts or ineffective restraining orders and she would have simply assumed that Mick would eat him (literally) rather than talk to him or at least scare him halfway dead. I don’t think she’d really want Mick to actually kill him. As I recall Mick’s sense of justice is fierce. lol So I’m already picturing slime ball bbq. LOL I do recall having a love/hate reaction to the Sherriff who doesn’t want to believe in magic, even when he is actively involved when they use it, and he can’t decide if he likes or hates magic in general so he dislikes Janet instead, unless he’s helping her. He’s a frustrating character.

    I do agree that the third book in this series is probably not the best place to start, especially if you don’t like paranormal or UF. :) Good review! Makes me want to go back and reread the earlier books before I pick up Shadow Walker. TY!

  10. 10
    Heather says:

    Oh, well. At least the covers are pretty. Now I can just right-click and save them to my “Favorite Book Covers” album on Facebook instead of buying the books. :)

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