Having previously read The Down Home Zombie Blues by this author, I expected a similar Earth-based-with-aliens read when I picked up Shades of Dark. However, this
is very different, a far more traditional interstellar space story with strong characters, shuttles, hyperspace jumps, different species, and the rest. The two main characters, Captain Chasidah 'Chaz' Bergren and her telepath lover, Gabriel Ross Sullivan (Sully),
are written with depth and are intriguingly different characters. The story is told from Chaz's point of view, the reader aware of all Chaz's emotions and fears as her world seems to
Right from the start of the story, I realized that Shades of Dark is part of a series and that I
was missing a great deal of information. This is delivered in info-dump style
quickly recapping a large cast of characters and a complex series of events.
It's all a bit too much to take in, especially as some things aren't explained and others
are. While there are some romantic aspects to this book, the main romance plot happened in a previous book; in this story, we see the two lead characters adjusting to each other.
More adjustment is needed than might have originally been expected. Sully's powers as a telepath are growing
- in fact, he's one of the hugely powerful Kyi-Ragkirils, who are able to enslave and wipe people's minds and who are empowered through pleasure or pain. Sully meets with another Kyi-Ragkiril who becomes his mentor, but amid the dissolution of the empire and the reappearance of Chaz's former husband, they find that Sully's powers might
include too much of a dark side.
Much of the emotional impact of this story occurs in Sully coming to terms with his powers, of them being explained to others, of him learning from his mentor.
At times the narrative moves rather slowly - political events influencing the plot
are too confusing for someone who hasn't read the previous book, and I wasn't always convinced
of what was going on. I didn't particularly warm to Sully, although Chaz is a great lead. Shades of Dark would probably have been more enjoyable if I had read others in the series, but it
is well-written, and the world that Sinclair has created is interesting.