Author: Paula Weston
Series: The Rephaim #1
Date: January 2013
Buy the Book • Goodreads
It’s been almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant.
It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn. And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams, he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense.
Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth – and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares.
Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly – who can she trust?
Reviewed by: Mary
I somehow managed to miss the angel trend that swept through young adult fiction a few years back, and so I was intrigued by the plot summary of Shadows but had nothing really to compare it to. That probably worked out quite well, and for an intro to a new genre it’s a pretty good place to start.
It took me a few chapters to really warm up to the book, the present tense storytelling was difficult for me and I’m not always the biggest fan of first person narratives either. So those were both big hurdles to cross when just getting started. Plus the main character, Gaby, isn’t the easiest person to love. But that actually ends up being one of the best things about her. I’ve recently read a lot of stories where I felt like the heroine was telling us how awful she is but never really doing anything awful, or anything at all. It’s a pretty classic trope, kind of like making a girl gorgeous but clumsy so she’s relatable, it doesn’t work.
Gaby, however, actually does things. And they’re not always nice things, or sensible things, but they’re things that are in character and you can see how they make sense for her and the world she lives in even if you want to throttle her. When it counts, she shows good character and her relationship with her best friend and roommate Maggie was probably what won me over. Also, Maggie was probably the best supporting character I’ve seen in a book like this in a very long time. She’s a really great example of what a good friend is and should be.
Now, the focus for a lot of people is going to be the love story, and Shadows doesn’t disappoint there. The trick is, Gaby actually has no memory of her past and so characters expect her to act one way and she does the opposite. Including being immediately attracted to Rafa, a man she previously fought with and fought beside before her amnesia. Rafa initially comes across as the typical bad boy that the heroine shouldn’t be attracted to, and at first I was very prepared to be annoyed by the whole thing. Girls being obsessed with jerks isn’t my style.
But then, that wasn’t who he was. And that’s probably the story of this book for me, I would make an assumption based on previous books I’ve read and then Weston wouldn’t meet them and instead would do something better than I expected. In the first chapter, I admit I wasn’t sure how invested I was but by the end I found myself getting irritated on my commute when I had to get off the train because I wanted to read a little longer. She even does a great job resolving some questions and conflict decisively so the book feels complete, but leaving enough open that I honestly can’t wait to read the sequel.
Weston is also very good at world building, and she brings Pan Beach to life in a way that made me really want to take a vacation. She’s pulling inspiration for her supernatural elements from religion and mythology, but she’s deviating enough to keep it interesting. Her warrior angels aren’t too far astray from other depictions, but in the end the characters are what’s important and Gaby, Maggie, Rafa, and Jason are all people I want to spend more time with.