Shadow Magic

Shadow Magic

by Sherry J. Soule

3 out of 5

Ghost summoning? No biggie. Raising the dead? Bring it on. Solving my sister’s sudden disappearance? A bit more complicated...

I’m Serena LeStrange, a necromancer who prefers to hide her freakishly fabulous skills from others. Only my sister makes me feel less of a weirdo, so when she mysteriously vanishes from college, I enroll at Macabre Academy to start my own investigation.

Except this is no ordinary school for the magically inclined, it’s home to all monsters—even the most dangerous ones. And after meeting an incredibly gorgeous vampire and a sinfully hot reaper, I find myself entangled in a passionate, yet forbidden, flirtation. To complicate matters, I get stuck with a ghostly genie sidekick and suspect a sinister sorority of misdeeds.

But to solve the mystery, I’ll need all the help I can get. Someone at Macabre knows what happened to my sister, and I won’t stop until I dig up the truth.

Unfortunately, some dark secrets prefer to stay buried.

Do you enjoy not-so-cozy paranormal mysteries, slow burn romances, and unconventional heroines?

Welcome to Macabre Academy, the first spellbinding book in a paranormal mystery romance trilogy!

PG-13: *No F-bombs, sex (slow burn), or graphic violence, but there are steamy kisses.

Heroine: A quirky supernatural Nancy Drew.

Premise: An older university-age paranormal academy series with mystery and light humor.

Serena transfers colleges to get to the bottom of her sister's disappearance. Now she has to deal with werewolves, vampires and sororities, to get to the truth.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Serena is the black sheep of the family. She's a necromancer, and her Shadow Magic is seen as a dirty secret by her father; and she's treated with suspicion by the rest of the magical community.
Her sister is the only person she's really close to, so when Harper vanishes, Serena doesn't believe the story that she's simply dropped out of school and off on a jolly somewhere.
She transfers to Harper's college, and has the chance to start over, pretending to be a normal witch, making friends, and dealing with some rather hot supernaturals.

I really like the world the author has created. Supernaturals are born as vampires, witches, werewolves, necromancers, sirens... the list goes on. It doesn't matter who their parents are, as the supernatural can take after anyone in their family history. So some distant, long-forgotten relative is why Serena is lumbered with being a necromancer, forever judged because she can work with the deceased.
There is a whole world of supernaturals, with various careers. Some (relatively) normal, like Serena's opera-singing mum; and some a little more unusual, like Serena's dream of working in pet resurrection.
Despite the various families and groups, all supernaturals are split into two clans - the Mythicals and the Nocturnals. Everyone gets to chose, but their alliance is weighted by family expectation.
Even though Macabre college work on integrating these two opposing clans, there's some clear tension and history.

It's all light-hearted fun, though. The pun-heavy names are borderline cheesy (or way past the border in some cases), but it's all tongue-in-cheek and I quite liked it.

The not-so-good.
There was a complete lack of subtlety in this book.
Serena goes "undercover", so she can investigate her sister's disappearance. Except she's as subtle as a brick when she is questioning her possible witnesses/suspects. She goes round in circles, wanting to talk to her main suspects, but doesn't actually do anything to track them down until much later in the book. She ignores some clues, and harps on about something that's already been revealed, as if it's something new.
This same lack of subtlety applies to her "flirting". I cringed when it said they were flirting. There was absolutely no nuance, they were just lobbing comments at each other.
This statement replies to both of Serena's "flirting" buddies - Blake the vampire prince, and Dante the British grim reaper. Serena states that one is laidback and funny, and the other is... well, hot and British; but they all blur into one lusty, cheesy, love-interest character.

The other characters all have the same indistinct feel.
The new best-friend Gennie, the roommate Moanica, the others students Veronica etc. They all seem loud, and otherwise grey in personality. I couldn't tell who were Serena's friends, and who she didn't like. She described some girls as snobby, but then they treated her with the same level of friendship as the people Serena stated she liked.

And I know this was only a tiny bit at the beginning of the book, but was I the only person bothered by the werewolves scene?
A pack of them chase Serena up a tree, and it's brushed off because that's what werewolves do: they like to harass college girls.
No outrage, no reporting them to the Dean. Boys will be boys.

Overall, this was a fun, light paranormal story.


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