I originally picked up “Out of the Shadows” because it had an interesting hook — a dead friend who wasn’t dead — and beautiful cover art. Yes, I totally judge books by their covers. 😉
The story had a pretty slow start, though the strong voice stood out right from the get-go. The first few chapters basically jump through a series of character introductions with no clear goals or established stakes. I had a hard time caring what happened to any of them until about halfway through the book.
Many of the characters, most notably Griffin, were well-developed. The special mechanics of the main character, Sachi, were unique and I really liked the idea, though I won’t go into it here because I don’t want to give anything away. Her actual personality, however, felt a little flat. Sachi and Julian have a hate-to-love romance arc that, while not one of my favorite tropes, was well done.
The writing was very authorial in general, including info dumps and redundant explanations that knocked me out of the story and significantly cut down on the tension. The narration alternated between sections of over-telling and noticeable gaps in information that made me feel like I had a momentary black-out. There were also some improperly used words, such as Sachi “scoffing” down a bowl of leftover spaghetti, which I assume she was supposed to be scarfing, and misuse of the term “counter-intuitive.”
The dialogue was often stiff and/or archaic, which could be understandable when coming from one of the centuries-old characters, but sounded out of place coming from people like Sachi’s brother. Many of the descriptions relied heavily on shared knowledge, making comparisons to a plethora of pop culture references. I generally like those kinds of references, but there were so many that I felt inundated.
The Shadowland world was wonderfully rendered, with a great deal of attention paid to the social dynamics of the groups. The details were wonderfully realized, but tended to be over-described to the detriment of flow and pacing. There were also several lengthy descriptions of menial tasks like taking showers, brushing teeth, laying out clothes for later, etc. that distracted from the actual story.
The end of the book was a little odd. If felt more like the entire first book was a setup for the second. Since the book didn’t start with any real adversary, there wasn’t much of a sense of closure. We were eventually introduced to an antagonist that will likely be the main conflict in the sequel, but they had very little to do with the first book. Griffin could be seen as an antagonist to a certain extent, but he and Sachi are not in conflict in the first book. Sachi’s not-dead-friend Gabe was also a point of conflict, but it didn’t get resolved. In general, I was left with a tepid feeling at the end of the book that not much had really changed from the beginning other than giving Sachi, and therefore the reader, more information about the world in preparation for some greater conflict to take place at a later date.
Note: I received a free copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.