Though Urban Fantasy is my first love, I’ve been known to stray to other genres on occasion. Young Adult, Mystery, Romance, any book with a character driven story has the potential to seduce me away. When strains of those other genres filter back into Urban Fantasy, color me happy. Supernatural romance, otherworldly mysteries... you name it, I love it.
It was just such a mashup I was hoping for when I picked up SHADOWLANDS. A touch of a thriller, mingled with secrets that bring a hint magic into the world. Unfortunately, it was my love of Mysteries and Thrillers that dashed my initial hopes. The book starts in the woods, just as Rory is attacked, just as her safe world comes crashing down around her. The intensity of that moment was great, but that was the last time I could immerse myself in the story. SHADOWLANDS doesn’t make for a believable police procedural. Which is truly unfortunate, given how much of the early chapters should have involved police procedure. “Should have”. Instead, there was the world’s most expository FBI agent, who embodied all of the unbelievable plot machinations awkwardly trying to maneuver Rory and her family, alone, in an SUV with a GPS aimed at their new life.
I usually try to make 80 pages before allowing myself to give up on a review book, and SHADOWLANDS was definitely on probation as I fought my way through those first few chapters. While the attack allowed me to quickly get invested in Rory, the aftermath of that visceral event was not kind to her family. The hints of a love triangle, thrown in so briefly, seemed awkward and out of place after a life or death attack. It was apparent that the author was trying to establish Rory’s sister as vain and shallow and emotionally unavailable, but her approach felt clunky and transparent.
Ultimately, the only thing keeping me reading SHADOWLANDS past the 80 page mark was my hunch about “the safe house” and the tiny island where Rory’s family is hidden by the FBI. In this instance, SHADOWLANDS’s own clunky action hid a critical transition, and it was clear where I needed to stop reading a thriller and settle in for magic. And soon, it was also clear that “confirming a hunch” was not going to be enough to keep me interested in this story.
As a DNF review, this one is a little misleading. I did skip to the last chapter to see if I was right, and those last few pages confirmed what I’d guessed way back in the beginning. As a thriller, this book did not work for me. As a mystery, it was pretty predictable. And as urban fantasy, the magic was as forgettable as all the rest.