Queensland Life | 13 October 2012 | Barry Dick

FIRST, the admission: I had never heard of Darren Shan before I picked up Lady of the Shades. Considering he has written 31 books and managed to sell 15 million worldwide, that’s possibly more an indictment on me than the author. There is no doubting the quality of the writing, which is quite high, but the plot is confused and confusing.


Ed Sieveking is a horror writer (as E.S. King) who is in London searching for, and finding, ghosts. He’s also, says the jacket, ‘‘haunted by a deadly secret that refuses to stay buried’’. Anyway, Ed (or E.S.) meets the exotic Deleena Emerson, who turns out to be Andeanna Menderes, at a party. Predictably he falls in love and Deleena/Andeanna convinces Ed to get rid of her pesky husband. Ed has a helpful and loyal offsider named Joe and Andeanna has a mysterious son Gregory/Greygo.

 

Without giving away the plot altogether, it’s suffice to say Deleena/Andeanna, Joe and Gregory/ Greygo are never in the same room at the same time. Poor Ed is left wandering ‘‘cold and cruel’’ London seeing ghosts when he’s awake and demons when he’s asleep.
 

No wonder he’s disturbed. He’s had an affair with someone and found out something about them that no one should discover. It leaves the reader asking the obvious question: ‘‘How could he not have known?’’.

 

The end of the book was so complicated I had to read it twice and, if that was Shan’s intention, he’s cleverer than I thought.

 

VERDICT: A REAL CHALLENGE
 

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