Urban fantasy is all the rage these days, especially if you can bring werewolves or vampires into it. Those monsters are getting old, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for good fantasy novels that bring magic into our modern world. Seressia Glass has entered that genre with the adventures of Kira Solomon, but sadly they're not as good as they could be. The second book, Shadow Chase, doesn't live up to the promise of the first.
Kira is a Shadowchaser, a woman trained to serve the Light and fight off the forces of Shadow that are trying to take over the world. She has been tainted by it, however, and spilled innocent blood. As part of her atonement, she has been recruited as the Hand of Ma'at, the Egyptian goddess of Truth and Order, to fight for her as well. While in London settling the affairs of her murdered mentor, Bernie, Kira becomes embroiled in other business by the Gilead Order. A fellow Shadowchaser has disappeared, as has the Vessel of Nun—an artifact that will cause immense destruction if it's not returned. Kira and her friends, including an immortal Nubian named Khefar who is the only person who can touch Kira without being affected by her powers, will have to recover it before it's too late.
Some good things in Shadow Chase will keep me coming back for the next one. However, my criticism of the first book, Shadow Blade, holds even more true for this second book. It doesn't really add anything to the standard urban fantasy fare other than Egyptian mythology (which I guess adds a bit of heft compared to a generic "Order vs Chaos" milieu). This wouldn't bother me so much if Glass's prose were better, but it's fairly pedestrian.
Two main problems are more specific to Shadow Chase. First, the pacing of the book is way off. Many of the copious quiet moments designed to build character work, but some don't. At these times, the book merely plods along on its own momentum. Thankfully, just when it seems like it will drag to a complete stop, something happens to propel it forward again.
The other problem is the anti-climactic ending, which stems from the pacing problem. The finale begins about two-thirds of the way through the book, but when the final confrontation finally occurs, not much happens. The characters bypass the obstacle in their way with such ease that all tension is lost. While some good character climaxes will surely lead into the next, the plot just kind of… stops.
The saving grace of Shadow Chase is again Glass's excellent character work. You really feel for Kira as she is buffeted by revelation after revelation about both her past and her present. Her growing attraction to Khefar, not just because he's a hunky guy (that's a given in this genre) but also because he's the only one who can touch her without falling comatose while she absorbs their memories, is affecting.
Khefar is quite interesting too, with his ancient curse of having to save a number of people equal to the innocents he killed all those years ago. The relationship that develops between these two, running both hot and cold as Khefar keeps some secrets to himself, brings the book together and makes you want to keep reading. Khefar has promised to use his magical dagger to "unmake" Kira if she falls too far under the Shadow influence that infects her, so that underlying tension runs throughout.
I have high hopes for the third book in the series. If Glass can just bring together a more interesting plot with better pacing, she has a wonderful framework for an intriguing series. We want to find out more about Kira and her past (though we do find out quite a bit in Shadow Chase) and how she deals with her discoveries. Glass has us rooting for her.
I'm also rooting for a better book.