Title: Counting Shadows
Author: Olivia Rivers
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Series? Yes, Duplicity #1
Publisher: Red Sparrow Press
Publication Date: June 30, 2013
Synopsis from Goodreads: Faye’s soul-mate is everything she should hate—an Angel, an outcast, an enemy. Ashe is just one more imperfection in her life that somehow makes everything… perfect.
Until he’s murdered.
With the only person she loves ripped away, Faye sets out to avenge Ashe’s death. The task seems impossible, until she finds Lor—an Angel who looks nearly identical to Ashe’s killer. Arrogant and hot-headed, Lor is everything Ashe wasn’t. But Lor is connected to her soul-mate’s past, and Faye needs him to find the killer—even if Lor is potentially deadly.
But when Faye discovers that Ashe’s past isn’t as black and white as she thought, she faces an impossible choice: Give up the hunt, and risk the lives of others. Or continue pursuing Ashe’s murderer, and forfeit the lives of everyone in her family—including herself.
This was a short book that actually was quite a bit better than I had expected! Despite the length, I was interested enough, and it was a nice afternoon read. The ensemble of magical creatures was a pleasant surprise – I was expecting only angels, but I got dragons, vampires, fairies, gryphons, and more! Definitely a guilty pleasure, and I wish the next book had been announced already!
Faye, as the main character, was a lot more than I expected her to be. Instead of languishing and pining for her lost love Ashe, she actually acts on a revenge plan. Maybe not the healthiest coping choice, but at least she wasn’t curled on her bed crying the whole time! She was a strong narrator, and took charge when she needed to, especially when it came to Lor, and all his baggage.
Lor – damn him – was everything I was hoping for when I picked up this book: sexy, tortured angel trying to redeem himself, using his wit, intelligence, and charm along the way. It’s my addiction, guys. I know I complain about that trope but I just can’t not love it, it just turns me into a puddle of gooey Kayla. What I loved best was how he didn’t try for anything with Faye; they just remained friends, and quite antagonistic to each other at that. Plus, he was hilarious. Like laugh out loud hilarious.
The other characters weren’t as developed, but then again most of the focus was on Faye and Lor, and there wasn’t much time to develop anyone else. I’d like to see some more characters pop up in the second book. Maybe a goofy sidekick? Or a dragon!!! YES I want to see some dragons in there!
Concept: Like I said above, I was expecting just angels, but got a lot more than that. Even though it was a smattering of a lot of different magical creatures and abilities, I never got the feeling that I was overwhelmed by mythology. It all blended very well together, and the fantasy geek inside me was beaming. Other than that, the specific myth of the “twin angels designed to save the world but have a mortal enemy and both parties continue to regenerate into new bodies until the legend is fulfilled” became a bit cheesy at times, especially when it came to the info dump.
The good part: aforementioned legend leads to the angel twins being born with tattoos. And we all know how I feel about angels and tattoos.
Plot: Here’s where I think the book fell short. With the length being so short, there wasn’t much time for any true development, so the plot remained very basic. And with that, it was highly transparent. I pretty much picked out all the events after the tenth page, and that took out the “edge of my seat” feeling that I enjoy. But I do have one hooray from this – no insta-love! In fact, Faye remained loyal to Ashe the entire time, which was a huge deviation from the usual YA fare I expect.
Nothing inherently wrong with it, I just think it’s linked to the whole plot thing. Most of the book remained very basic, relying on a few tropes here and there, and the only thing I’d wish for is a bit more complexity.
Despite my nitpicks, I did enjoy this book, and I may have growled a bit because of that damn cliffhanger. Like, really? I had satisfied myself with this being a one time afternoon read and then I’d move on with my life, but now I have to hunt down that sequel to figure it all out!
My Final Rating:
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Food for thought (sound off in the comments!)
If you’ve read the book:
- Did you ship Faye and Lor or did you like the fact that they stayed friends only?
- What did you think of the prophesy shenanigans? Too much info dump, or intriguing?
If you haven’t:
- What character trope do you always complain about, but honestly can’t get enough of?
- What sort of books do you find are perfect for guilty pleasure/lazy afternoon reads?