Adventures of a Bookanaut | 24 September 2012 | Sean Wright

Lady of the Shades is Darren Shan’s return to writing for adults. Shan is more well known for his children's series Cirque Du Freak and Demonata, but has previously written The City trilogy for adults and mature teens.

 

Lady of the Shades is a standalone title and skirts the edges of a number of genres, making it an interesting and enjoyable piece with wide appeal. The Times lauded it as “Utterly unputdownble”, an appellation or sentiment much overused in the marketing of books. It was, however, a very quick and enjoyable read for me.

 

Ed, an American author on the hunt for a story for his next book, arrives in London looking for inspiration. A stranger in a strange city, he's haunted by a deadly secret that refuses to stay buried and no matter how hard he tries he cannot escape the manifest sins of his past. What Ed wants is answers, what he finds is something he definitely didn't bargain for: the beautiful and untouchable Andeanna Menderes. Andeanna is a woman who is dangerously bound to one of London's most notorious crime lords and if they are caught together it could mean death for them both. Ensnared in an illicit affair that can only be conducted in the shadows, Ed's world is turned upside down as a series of shattering revelations blurs the line between what's real and what's not...[source: paperback blurb]

 

Apart from the prologue, the novel is delivered in the first person. It’s a choice that I think works well if the author is trying to play on the possibility that the ghosts are just a figment of the protagonist’s imagination or an indicator of their state of mind.

 

I like stories that leave the reader unsure of the reality of ghosts and Shan performs a great balancing act with between the mundane and paranormal elements, to keep the reader on edge and guessing right until the last chapter.

 

I thought I had the mystery figured out about three quarters of the way through the novel but Shan was practised enough to make me doubt myself and keep reading with a keen desire to know the ending.

 

The action is fast paced and brutal the mystery elements well constructed. Whether you are a fan of crime, mystery or ghost stories it will be a compelling read. On the strength of this work I am inclined to check out Darren’s other novels.

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