Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fiona Skye's Taming Shadows: Revelations Trilogy Book One

Imagine, if you will, a world where the Preternatural existed. In this world it had always been hidden. Now further imagine that something occurred which forced its acknowledge. The world became aware of things that it had scoffed at only a day previously. What would it take to make that happen? What would the effects of simply acknowledging the existence of something that had always been mocked be? What if not everything was known about and brought forward ? What if the still -unknown wanted to stay unknown? What if Fiona Skye wrote a book named Taming Shadows and explored these same topics. Well, she did and I enjoyed it.

The Revelations (as they're known) were put forth after a massive confrontation was caught on tape. Our heroine, Riley O'Rourke got caught up in some bad stuff and it made the news. Instead of calling the Men In Black she decided to let the world know about her (she's a were-jaguar) and others like her. She stops hiding what she is. I know I don't usually do spoilers but this all happens in the prologue so I figure it's okay this time. Riley's entire life and the lives of everyone on Earth all change in mere minutes.

What makes Taming Shadows enjoyable is that it's not a novel built on a grand scale. The story focuses very tightly on the life of Riley. We see her day to day, her love interest and her improved lifestyle. She gets her own talk show and the big house and expensive car to go with it, but there's more than that. We see her dealing with the regular and mundane and with the Preternatural in much the same fashion. For Riley, her exceptional nature is a fact of life that must be dealt with but that doesn't keep her from being her. All this despite the fact that she never asked to be a Critter and was changed without her consent.

The world that Skye builds is impressive. There is an entire hierarchy of Preternatural beings. One of Riley's intimates is the Duke of Tucson. Another owns a bar that caters to the Preternatural. Along the way she meets more people and realizes that the previously hidden world that she revealed. Skye did well here because we learn about the way Riley's world works as Riley does. Sometimes with new fantasy worlds things can be a bit disconcerting but Skye pulled it off. She gets enough details in to make things make sense and keep us interesting without slowing the plot down and boring us all to death. Kudos to her. Surprises abound and I won't reveal too much. One does wonder if Skye may have read a bit of Jim Butcher however.

Riley is simultaneously near the bottom (as are all the Critters/were-creatures) and near the top (being friends with the local nobility.) She ends up stuck in the middle of a fight between factions that she never knew existed and spends as much time worrying about what effect it will have on her livelihood as she does wondering whether she will survive it. She still has a young woman's natural appetites and she is not afraid to assuage them when she can and if she falls in love easily, well... It works for the plot.

I've remarked before on my love for a strong female protagonist and Riley certainly is one of those. She can scrap with the best of them. She has the personal courage to reveal an entirely new world to the rest of humanity. She goes toe to toe with some seriously scary stuff and the details of how she got Changed... I'll leave that for the book but it's not something anyone would come through unscathed, physically or emotionally. Having said that much though, she's not always sure of what comes next. She doubts her choices and doesn't always know what she should do. In short, she feels more human than most other characters that I've read. Skye really does a good job selling her protagonist. Not only do I feel like I could hang out with Riley and friends, I feel like I already have.

That's actually a really good thing and it's something that gets overlooked by many other writers. The Duke of Tucson, aka Onyx, is a vampire that's been around for several millennia. He makes sense though. Onyx is not the wantonly cruel Count Dracula, but neither is he some Stephanie Meyers spawned sparkly wimp. Riley's boyfriend is a cop. He's not some insufferable hardcore stereotype. Nor is he a superheroic ass-stomper. He's a man with a job and a woman that he cares about. Skye's supporting cast is well thought out and written.

Skye put some research into this book and it shows. I've been avoiding about what though. Suffice it to say that she seems to have done some reading of non-standard sources but it works. Some of what's in the book is trope based, but the roots are in folklore. If some old superstitions weren't really superstitions in a world where the existence the Preternatural were hidden that makes sense, especially if those old superstitions regard protection against the undead.

My one complaint about the books involves the villains. There are two groups of them and their motivations are a bit unclear. I mean, on one hand their motivation seems obvious, but maybe too obvious. Riley gets suckered in right on cue but I wonder... I don't want to give up too much. Let's just say that one of the two groups could have prevented the entire problem by remaining out of the picture and didn't. Given the fact that their intervention drives Riley into the arms of their opposition and creates a problem they would have been better off to avoid, it seems a bit pointless. Then again, no one is perfect and maybe they knew more than I knew they knew or something. That much being said, I really did like this book and look forward to the sequels. It's book one of a trilogy.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 claws

Taming Shadows; Revelations Trilogy Book One
Fiona Skye

Self Published, 2015

Taming Shadows is available for purchase here:

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