Shadow Kin

Shadow Kin - M.J. Scott Shadow Kin is an impressive first book in a debut series! After a botched assassination attempt on sunmage Simon, our Shade heroine Lily is very worried, and also very trapped. Lily is a rare wraith, no other Blood lord had a wraith at his command. Bought by the Blood lord Lucius when the Fae abandoned her, she is called "my shadow" by Lord Lucius, and "soulless" by the Fae. But known to everyone, she is Lucius's chief assassin.

Simon has her spend the rest of the night with him, held immobile in a chair, so she can't fade in to the shadows, until sunrise. He immediately knows she is in a bad situation, and comes from a place of violence and brutality. He also happens to mention that he was not expecting her to be so .... beautiful. At her reaction, he realizes that her world has been cruel to her. And he feels compelled to help her, whether she wants it or not. He meets up with his brother, a Templar, and the two decide that having her come to the Light side and testify for them against Lucius, that he ordered her to have a human killed, could end his rule forever. The problems? She is kept on a very short leash, and if Simon can't convince her, his brother will kidnap her. And then they have to convince her to help them, without knowing where her loyalties lie.

This was a really interesting fantasy book, with paranormal and romance, and a lot of dark. The first chapter is from the heroine's first-person Point of View, and the next is from the hero's first-person POV. It goes back and forth like that, and it flowed better than I would have expected. This technique also kept is fresh and interesting, too. Lily is viewed by the Light as an abomination, and she has never been exposed to kindness or compassion. Simon wants to trust her, and wants the humans and fae to trust her, but that becomes a very tall order. She is herself ashamed of what she has been turned in to, and her fear of being judged and persecuted is something she has to face, even if it means death.

“He was so full of life and confidence part of me wanted to slap him. But another part wanted to let him show me how to feel like that. That part made me want to slap myself.”

M.J. Scott's take on vampires is thoroughly interesting, they are termed the Blood and they are the evil villains. Whereas the Fae and Humans mostly live in the Light, the Blood and the Nightseekers live in the Dark. The heroine had been so deeply traumatized from routine beatings by her Blood Lord, and labeled the enemy by everyone in the Light, that it might have been hard to understand her motivations and connect with her. I really did connect with her, though, and liked her right from the start. And the hero was your pretty typical martyr, but I liked him just fine as well. The romance definitely worked for me, I really wanted them to be together!

Shadow Kin has some pretty fantastic world building, but the pace was sluggish at times because of its density. Mostly in the middle, but that did not detract me from enjoying this book overall. This is a great start to a dark fantasy series with great potential. I will definitely check out the upcoming second book in the series, Blood Kin.