Book Review: Laurell K. Hamilton’s A Kiss of Shadows

Posted November 9, 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: Laurell K. Hamilton’s A Kiss of Shadows

A Kiss of Shadows


Laurell K. Hamilton

erotic romance, urban fantasy in Paperback edition that was published by Ballantine Books on March 28, 2006 and has 468 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Hit List, Bloody Bones, Killing Dance, Burnt Offerings, Narcissus in Chains, Obsidian Butterfly, Bite, Incubus Dreams, Micah, Danse Macabre, The Harlequin, Blood Noir, Skin Trade, Flirt, Bullet, Never After, Kiss the Dead, The First Death, Affliction, Guilty Pleasures, The Laughing Corpse, Circus of the Damned, "Shutdown", Lunatic Café, A Caress of Twilight, Seduced by Moonlight, A Stroke of Midnight, Mistral’s Kiss, A Lick of Frost, Blue Moon, Dead Ice, Jason, Crimson Death

First in the Meredith Gentry erotic urban fantasy series revolving around a part-brownie, part-fey, part-human Faerie princess who fled Faerie lest she die. The story takes place in Los Angeles and in Cahokia, Illinois.

My Take

I want to say there was less depth to this story than in her Anita Blake series, although it’s possible that the similarity of her Merry character is simply too much like Anita, and it feels as though Hamilton is cheating, that she can’t be bothered to create another strong female character who is her own individual. And yet, Merry is strong. If only Hamilton had left off some of those tell-tale Blake signature moves…

Hamilton’s imagination is amazing and I love the twists into which it takes her. It’s a tale of faeries and goblins, magic and things that go bump in the night. It’s the Seelie and Unseelie with merely a mention of the former. It’s the action that never stops as Hamilton takes what we “know” of the fey and twists it round and round: tension, drama, and an exciting combination of humanity and eros.

Politics, intrigue, murder, sex, and pain. Yes, be prepared for a descent into BDSM for Merry likes her pain, although A Kiss of Shadows merely dips its toe into the sting and throb of Merry’s preferences.

A Kiss of Shadows beautifully sets the series up with its background of the fae and Merry herself along with the cast of characters and how they intertwine. I love how simply Hamilton drops in the underlying plot for the series, how she sets us up, and then ties it into this story while exciting our imaginations for the next, A Caress of Twilight, 2.

It’s a gorgeous example of not using info dumps!

Each of the guards chosen by the queen’s ring is unique with his own strengths and weaknesses. Some I like, some intrigue, and others…hmmm, I’m not sure yet…

It’s a book that reads so easily that the pages fly by as piece by piece, the parts of Faerie that are dying call to Meredith, respond to her.

The Story

Having fled the Unseelie Court three years ago, Merry has lived with the worry of discovery all that time. If her aunt should ever find her, her death will be the least of Merry’s concerns.

But it seems that the power is dying in the Unseelie Court and perhaps, just perhaps, Merry has the power to bring life back.

The Characters

Meredith “Merry Gentry” NicEssus, half-Seelie and half-Unseelie sidhe, is one of the weakest members of the royal sidhe court and hiding in Los Angeles as a private detective. Roane Finn is an skinned Selkie and Merry’s boyfriend. Keelin Nic Brown, a goblin-brownie half-breed, was Merry’s childhood friend. Essus was the Prince of Flame and Flesh, and Merry’s father, the queen’s brother. Gran is half-human, half-brownie; Uar the Cruel of the Seelie Court was her husband because she bore him twins, one of whom was Merry’s mother. Now Gran runs a bed-and-breakfast.

Jeremy Grey, a trow, is her boss at the Grey Detective Agency, which specializes in supernatural cases, and they have the personnel to back that up. Uther Squarefoot, a jack-in-irons, is a thirteen-foot giant while Ringo is a human who made a deal with the fey. Teresa is the resident psychic. Eileen Galan of James, Browning, and Galan is the lawyer representing Merry.

Detective Lucy Tate has worked with the Grey Detective Agency in the past. Detective John Wilkes has a lot to learn. Detective Alvera learns more than he wants. Maury Klein is a civilian sound expert, the best in L.A. And totally oblivious to Merry’s charms. Chris is his diplomatic assistant.

Frances Norton is the wife and Naomi Phelps is the mistress of a man who terrifies them both: Alistair Norton. Liam, Donald, and Brendan are his partners in crime.

The Queen of Air and Darkness is the queen of the Unseelie Court, and Aunt Andais, a sexual sadist. None of her guard are allowed to have sex with anyone but her. Eamon is the queen’s royal consort. Fflur is a healer fey and a weaver. Ezekial is the queen’s torturer.

Prince Cel is her son and makes Hannibal Lecter seem like a dozy grandfather. Siobhan is Cel’s right hand. Rozenwyn is another of his guards, Cel’s second-in-command, and one who challenged Merry to a duel and left her marked by her hand of power. Conri is one of Cel’s friends, and he tries to hurt Merry by challenging Galen. Pasco is Rozenwyn’s twin, and the spy the queen sends to Merry’s bed.

Sholto is King of the Sluagh, the leader of the Host, Lord of Shadows, and Lord of That Which Passes Between with the jealous hags — Nerys the Grey, Segna the Gold, and Black Agnes — as his confidantes or lovers.

The Ravens are the Queen’s Guards:
Doyle is the Queen’s Darkness, her right hand; his carrying Mortal Dread, another one of the queen’s private weapons, proves he comes from her. Galen was/is Merry’s childhood friend and love. The fey she would have loved to marry. Barinthus had been worshipped as a sea god, and he’s Old Court Sidhe, a power to be reckoned with. The fearsome Frost who carries Geamhradh Po’g Winter’s Kiss, a great sword, is feeling awkward. Rhys is a death god. Nicca is another spy with butterfly wings.

Queen Niceven is of the demi-fey with a hold over Meredith.

Kurag is king of the goblins with a taste for Meredith. Kitto is a snake goblin whom Kurag gives over to Merry to seal their alliance.

The King of Light and Illusion of the Seelie Court is her uncle.

Jenkins is a scumbag of a journalist who’s been tracking Meredith for years, capitalizing on her misfortunes.

Bureau of Human Fey Affairs. Griffin was her lover before he cruelly left her. The Black Coach of the wild hunt is sentient and thinks for itself.

My Cover and Title

The cover is symbolic of Aunt Andais’ court: all blood and death with its red background and blackened roses as they curl up and around Merry’s naked legs.

The title is our introduction into Merry’s homeland, merely A Kiss of Shadows before we plunge deeper.