Shadowman - Erin Kellison Posted as a guest review at Fiction Vixen

Shadowman is the third book in Erin Kellison’s Shadow series. In this series there are three worlds: Mortality, where humanity lives; Shadowlands; and the Hereafter. Death, also known as Shadowman, lives in the dark and dreamy world of Shadowlands which can be as beautiful as it is horrifying. The building and melding of the three worlds is pretty fantastic, and enhances the feel of the experience.

I will start off by saying that I am really leery of reincarnation-themed love stories because there are a lot of moving pieces that can fail. When I realized very early on that this book would involve Thalia’s mother and Shadowman’s love Kathleen coming back somehow, I was nervous.

We meet this new character Layla Mathews and she’s not exactly that endearing at first. She is trespassing on the The Segue Institute’s facility trying to snap photos of Thalia and Adam, convinced that the recent bout of wraiths (humans who have sold their souls to stay in the land of mortality) is because of them. She then lies her way to get out of trouble and just keeps on lying and gets the boot out of there. But then we realize the how and why of her compulsion to stalk Thalia and Adam, and we get a dose of what it has been like for her as a child labeled “schizophrenic” going from home to home, belonging nowhere. I got her.

Meanwhile Shadowman has recently learned from Custo the angel that the love of his life and mother of his child Kathleen is not in Heaven. He basically flips his shit. He obtains a hammer from Custo as a gift and what does he do? The only logical thing, he builds a gate to Hell so that he can go in and find her there. D’oh! Little does he know, just because Kathleen isn’t in Heaven does not necessarily mean she is in Hell… but by the time this conclusion is reached, a devil escapes out the gate from Hell and is now running around the mortal world. The devil, formerly named Rose, is really entertaining. Rose pretty much murders everyone she comes across in “self-defense”. Following along with her as the people she comes across drop like flies made me giggle. In addition, the gate to Hell took on its own personality, which was very well done. But now everyone has to work together to try to destroy the gate, and the devil, and get Layla to remember who she was, before Fate takes her life the way it did Kathleen.

Shadowman is dreamy, literally. I love how he pined in the shadows for the very ill Kathleen O’Brien, born with a heart defect, never allowed to leave her sick room. Risked everything to cross through the veil between Shadow and Mortal worlds just to love her. In their short tryst, Shadowman got just enough time with her to watch her deliver their baby girl Thalia (who we meet in the first book in the series), and then she supposedly moved on to the Hereafter. 28 years later he is still pining for her, having put down his scythe and refusing to take on his duties as Death. When he is given a second chance at love with Layla, his desperation for her to remember who she was, and what they were to each other, is so moving. And when things finally start to click for Layla, and she embraces Shadowman back, the story takes on a very sentimental sweet love story.

“They were never meant to be together, yet were ruined for anyone else. They were a tragedy in the making, careening toward doom.

And she’d take as much as she could get.” Pg 226

Another part of Shadowman’s allure is that he takes on the image of whatever the beholder sees him as. For Kathleen and Layla, I saw him as a Brandon Lee from The Crow. Yum. The lame thing I have to mention is when he had to come up with a name for himself meeting Layla, instead of choosing Shadowman he uses “Khan”. It really didn’t work. Every single time I read the word “Khan” I giggled. But the building of tension between the two of them, as they yearned to be together in the same world, how they longed to steal time together, I was completely enamored.

The imagery Ms. Kellison creates in this fantasy world is genius in its ability to make you feel as though you are in an adult fairy tale. As Layla is watching Khan in a painting with the Shadowlands trees swaying and moving, he can appear to her there, you feel as though you are in a fairy tale book. When he moves with her through Shadow by taking her through a mirror, I was swept off my feet. Additionally, all the shadow and ghost activity in the west wing of the Segue Institute is downright scary, with that dang little girl ghost who keeps trying to take over Layla’s body! Shadowman took many turns I did not see coming, and I was pleased with the ride it took me on.

This was a fantastic romance fantasy and most definitely my favorite of the series. I found it to be very different than what is out there, and if dark adult fairy tales appeal to you, you should definitely check this series out! I would definitely not recommend reading this as a standalone. The events in the past two books are important for understanding what is happening.

Favorite quote:

“Perspective is not about what’s in front of the camera. Perspective is about the eye looking through it.” – Layla Mathews

Here is the reading order for the Shadow series:

Shadow Bound
Shadow Fall