Shadow Sights and Ghost Lights with E.J. Stevens (#bookreview)

Well, consider me pleasantly surprised. Given the cover of Shadow Sight, with the thigh-top leather boots, perilously high stiletto heels, and apparent lack of miniskirt, I was all set for another urban fantasy full of a heroine looking hot, kicking ass, and falling all over the hunky bad boy. I know they say you should never judge a book by its cover, but I likely would have passed this one by if the cover and book blurb for its sequel hadn't been what caught my eye.

E.J. Stevens hasn't quite turned back the clock to a time before sexy-vampires and leather-clad gymnasts ruined the streets of urban fantasy, but she's put the mystery and mythology back ahead of the other nonsense, where it belongs. This is a surprisingly dark story, with scenes that could slide very well into a horror novel, but it also has its whimsical touches, complete with pixies, mermaids, and even unicorns. The psychic who can't touch anything has been done before, but Ivy Granger is interesting enough as a human being to make the concept work, and to drive the story forward.

If I had a complaint about the first book, it's that there's no real sense of urgency. It's an interesting story, with several layers to keep you occupied on an intellectual level, but little to engage the reader on an emotional level. Stevens wisely steers clear of the tacky, artificial, soap-opera drama that permeates so many urban fantasies, but seems to have had some trouble finding an adequate replacement for it.

With Ghost Light, Stevens doesn't really offer anything new, but she does develop the themes and characters of the first book. We get to see more of her world, and more of the magical creatures that inhabit it, which is probably my favorite aspect of the series. There's a real depth to the mythology here, with faeries, vampires, and mermaids falling into their own roles in society. It's not just a bunch of monsters dropped into the 'real' world, but a subtly different world where race extends beyond just skin color.

Ivy is better developed here as well, coming across as a significant participant in the world around her, rather than just an outsider. I felt her struggles to understand and come to grips with her powers were better defined her, giving her a much-needed strength that seemed to be somewhat lacking in the first volume. The characters around her come to life a bit more this time around as well, particularly Jinx, who breaks out of the generic 'someone to confide in' role. Torn is a fantastic new character, and once it became clear he wasn't being introduced solely to fill the hunky bad boy role, I really took to him.

The storyline this time around is a bit more of your standard urban fantasy tale, but it still has enough touches of originality to keep it fresh and intriguing. Stevens' vampires are subtly different from what we've become used to, and she does a great job of handing the touchy subject of putting children as risk, which is something of a relief for me, since stories of the fae almost demand a child-stealing element. There's a much better balance of emotions here as well, creating more of a connection with the reader, and moving beyond mere intellectual interest.


E.J. Stevens is the author of the Spirit Guide young adult series and the bestselling Ivy Granger urban fantasy series.

When E.J. isn't at her writing desk she enjoys dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles.

E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Visit E.J. at her blog From the Shadows, Amazon, Goodreads or Twitter.