Book Review: S.M. Stirling’s Shadows of Falling Night

Posted July 10, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: S.M. Stirling’s Shadows of Falling Night

Shadows of Falling Night


S.M. Stirling

horror, urban fantasy that was published by ROC on May 7, 2013 and has 400 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include A Taint in the Blood, Council of Shadows, Dangerous Women, Dies the Fire, The Protector's War, A Meeting at Corvallis, The Sunrise Lands, The Scourge of God, The Sword of the Lady, The High King of Montival, The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth

Third in the Shadowspawn urban fantasy series about a Shadowspawn plot to take over the world.

My Take

This story finds Ellen and Adrian sharing near-equal billing with Adrian’s children with a little genetic selection at the very start of this tale. Why do wanna-be bad guys always think they’re immune?

It’s a series of chases involving various groups with the logistics of who is chasing whom and the whys of it constantly changing. It’s also a trip through our own nightmares as wolves chase down the children and their guardians through the dark and scary woods. Betrayal, assassination, and pure selfishness abound.

I do love Stirling’s attention to food in this series. Reading his stories always makes me so hungry, at least when I’m not being grossed out.

A nice step out from the horror of it when Ellen explains Bouguereau’s painting style to Adrian. I also enjoyed Stirling’s incorporation of really ancient history — Stone Age-ancient — to explain evolution, stability, humanity’s path. Although, Stirling’s more recent history in the naming of various monsters of history as Shadowspawn is rather terrifying and would certainly explain a lot!

The backstory in this one includes more about the Brézé family and the part individual members have played in the past. I love the underground “lair” Adrian has beneath his Santa Fe house.

“Now his aetheric form has perished as well. Just as one might expect, his death came at the most inconvenient possible moment and has cost and will cost us all a great deal of trouble. Would he have wished it any other way?”

Stirling uses a lot of psychology in this. Practical applications: the difference between emotional patterns and logical ones. The Stockholm Syndrome that finds Monica accepting her role as part of the natural order! Ick..!! Whatever would Darwin think?

The Story

Harvey has hijacked the nuclear bomb with the intention of destroying as many of the Shadowspawn adepts as possible at their Council meeting in Tbilisi. The humans in the area? There’s collateral damage in any war. And it is war with the choices between Trimback One, a global EMP pulse, and Trimback Two, plague.

It’s a case of one side believing they have some leeway while the other side is carefully herding them all where she wants them. That there are additional traps along the way are simply a bonus.

The Characters

Ellen Brézé is Adrian’s now and future while Adrienne views her as her past — and future victim. She’s also a submissive married to a dominating adept, Adrian Brézé, the most human of the Shadowspawn, even if he can shapeshift into a sabretooth tiger!

Eusebia “Cheba” Cortines and the former-detective Eric Salvador are guarding Adrian’s children, Leila and Leon, at Adrian’s Santa Fe house. Eric feels as though he’s back under fire in Afghanistan without support while Cheba simply wants payback and a chance at a better life. Dr. Peter Boase is the scientist kidnapped by Adrienne and then allowed to believe he had escaped. He’s been working with DProfessor Duquesne, another physicist, on a presience-blocking generator — the Boase Effect. Now he’s on the run with Cheba, Eric, and the children.

Harvey Ledbetter is one of the Brotherhood and the man who kidnapped, then raised Adrian with human morals. Anjali Guha and Jack Farmer are also with the Brotherhood, but they’re hunting Harvey to stop him, worried that he’s under Adrienne’s control. Greta Hannay is the grandmother who better understands the old ways.

Adrienne Brézé is Adrian’s evil twin. She’s beautiful, brilliant, and a psychopathic Shadowspawn totally addicted to sadism. Monica Darton is one of Adrienne’s human, well, servants addicted to Adrienne’s brand of pain. Josh and Sophia are Monica’s children. Theresa Villegas is a renfield, Adrienne’s household manager. Her family has served the Brézés for centuries back on Rancho Sangre. David Cheung is another of her renfields.

Dale Shadowblade is a Shadowspawn assassin and working for? with? Adrienne; he shifts into an owl. Kai is the psychopathic b8tch with a small ability to Wreak Dale keeps around to feed from, to almost kill. Dimitri Pavlovich Usov is another of her gang.

Étienne-Maurice Brézé is the Duc de Beauloup, lord of the Council of Shadows, and the twins’ great-great-grandfather; Seraphine Brézé is his wife. Arnaud Brézé is his brother with an unexpected flexibility in preferring a modification of the past rather than a strict return to it. He’s also Adrian’s great-great-uncle.

The Tōkairin currently rule California after taking it over from the Brézés, although Michiko and Grandfather are dead. The al-Lanarkis have a preference for shapeshifting into cave hyenas. The von Trupps are into wolves. Standartenführer Alberich von Trupp was part of the Wannsee Conference. Now he’s simply post-corporeal.

Henri is a human idiot about to be lunch. Jessica and Todd Bertsch were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Shadowspawn are what we readers would consider vampires, loup-garou, sorcerers, oni, ghouls, incubus/succubus, and more. This particular brand is simply more psychopathic, and most are post-corporeal. They rule the world from behind the scenes.
The Council of Shadows are the leaders of the Shadowspawn with a plan to take the world back and rule it openly. The Order of the Black Dawn formed when Shadowspawn recognized what they were; they have been manipulating their genes and training in the use of their magic since the turn of the 19th century. The Albermann scale measures one’s ability to manipulate energies, to do Wreaking. Mhabrogast is the demon language the Shadowspawn use to work their magics.

Lucies are food; renfields are humans who choose to serve. The Brotherhood started out as witch-finders, humans with an ability to Wreak. Too much ability and they became Hitlers, Pol Pots, Leopolds.

Catching up…
Jose is married and retired from the lucy business.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a golden glow as Adrian, with a knife in his hand, prepares to battle a wolf as choppers approach in the skies of Paris.

The title does not hold out hope, as even at the end there are Shadows of Falling Night.