Shadow Kin (Half-Light City #1) by M.J. Scott
Publisher: Roc (Penguin/Sept. 2011)
Source: From publisher for review
On one side, the Night World, rules by the Blood Lords and the Beast Kind. On the other, the elusive Fae and the humans, protected by their steadfast mages…
Born a wraith, Lily is a shadow who slips between worlds. Brought up by a Blood Lord and raised to be his assassin, she is little more than a slave. But when Lily meets her match in target Simon DuCaine, the unlikely bond that develops between them threatens to disrupt an already stretched peace in a city on the verge of being torn apart…
Lily is an assassin for the Blood Lord Lucius, bound by a need seemingly greater than herself to do his bidding, and his killing. When Lucius sends her to kill the handsome sunmage Simon DuCaine, she fails, and in Lily, Simon sees someone he can save, and maybe even love. What follows is Lily’s journey in finding herself and her inner strength, and also allowing someone else in, when she’s suffered a lifetime of prejudice, abuse, and sadism from Lucius, and also from the Fae, who gave her up as a baby. Lily is not only an assassin, but she’s also a wraith, which means that when the sun goes down, she has the ability to “shadow” or disappear, which, of course, has come quite in handy as an assassin. Shadow Kin switches back and forth between first person POV of Lily and Simon, and I really enjoyed reading the individual points of view as things happened. It never gets confusing, and is especially fun to read when things get tense (and they do, but in a good way) between Lily and Simon. Lily has a secret, but soon finds out that Simon and the Templars may be harboring secrets of their own. Political intrigue and action abound, the worldbuilding is great fun, and the author has filled her fantasy world with the Bloods (vamps), their Trusted (humans that do the vamps’ bidding), the Beasts (shifters), Templars (peace keepers and warriors), and the Fae. In a Half-Light City firmly rooted in traditional fantasy, but tinged with steampunk details, these characters are given a rich and varied landscape in which to interact, and I enjoyed it immensely.
Lily is a fighter, and she’s tough, but she’s also damaged and torn, and in Simon, finds someone that might be able to put her back together again, if not whole, at least not so scarred. My heart ached for Lily at times, but watching her rise from servant to Lucius, to serious threat to the entire Blood Court, was a story you won’t want to miss! Simon is sensitive but can certainly handle himself in a fight, and his healer side is constantly at odds with his warrior side. Lucious is a nasty, sadistic villain, and delights in keeping Lily on a leash. I’m really looking forward to exploring the City more in future novels, and especially getting to know the Fae and the Beasts a bit better. Shadow Kin will please not only urban fantasy fans (kick-ass heroine and lots of action), but fans of traditional fantasy (great world building and pitch perfect pacing) as well! Shadow Kin is a novel featuring a fascinating world and an exciting cast of characters, and is a must for all fantasy libraries!