Friday, June 6, 2008

"Scent of Shadows" by Vicki Pettersson

“The Scent of Shadows” by Vicki Pettersson for me is probably one of the best books I have had the pleasure to read in a while. It can be described as gritty, dark, violent and one of the more captivating Urban Fantasy titles on the market. A lot can be said about the book, the ideas it conveys and the quality of the writing. By my rating standards this novel exceeds the maximum ten points and skyrockets far in the distance.

“The Scent of Shadows”, which actually is only the first installment of the “Signs of The Zodiac” series, follows the photographer and multibillionaire heiress Joanna Archer from the moment her life changes for the worse. She is a strong character, which is typical for the genre and has a colorful biography to boot. From being messed up by a trauma in her childhood that led her train herself to be a modern age amazon Joanna finds herself thrown into the great battle between Light and Shadows agents, where her fighting skills, short temper and her aptitude to violence come in handy.

The other face of Las Vegas hidden behind the neon lavish is a battlefield between the Shadow Zodiac and the Zodiac of Light, where twelve agents from both sides are meant to fill a star sign on each Zodiac. Each agent has his conduit, which is their special lethal weapon. Armed, dangerous and trained they have one purpose: fight. Seems like a standard good vs. evil plot, but here comes the world building and the reader is strapped tight and slammed into a rollercoaster of action. Vicki creates a sub-society of superheroes, who can heal fast and possess their own special mythology. Something that simply can’t be passed on so lightly.

Another amazing factor is the sense of smell, which is taken and elevated to new and incredible heights. It’s not only there to make a small entrance as a deus ex machina to track the foe, even though one of its major purposes is. A whole new world is opened up with this acute and powerful sense of smell, which can detect all smells and their remnants and it even connects people to each other.

But it doesn’t stop there. Vicki builds on top of that a whole science relying on genetics that is concentrated on how to mask and change smells and characteristic scents. Also killing a star sign with his own conduit your own scent is erased and you become invisible to the senses of the people around unless you make contact.

For me all these little details that get revealed part by part without info-dumping and by sensible dialog is enough to hook me alone, but what made me purely addicted to her work is her style of writing. Judging by my own experience with writing, first person POV could never quite mix with wondrous paragraphs of deliciously long sentences of descriptions. It just shows how much I have to learn to extract the maximum of both techniques together and for that I simply bow down before her skills.

But now let’s view Joanna Archer, who is not only flung without her consent or idea of the whole Zodiac troops and star signs, but finds out that she is the daughter of the leader of the Shadow Zodiac, while her mother is the prize star sign of the Light Zodiac. She is destined to do a lot and she can choose to be on either of both sides. As a bonus she possesses special skills from both sides as well.

But of course being an awesome one of a kind hybrid isn’t all about the perks. Joanna, although playing for the good guys, is vulnerable to all the energies and defenses against the dark, although we are not sure as of yet if vice versa applies as well. Her role in the superhero society is met with mistrust as Light is equal to Shadow inside of her and the equilibrium between the both can and has been tipped easily.

Her character is the most exact brought-to-life metaphor of the struggle between good and evil inside the human being and that is what makes her as real as any other human being can get. Coupled with the challenges to live the life of her sister Olivia, who was murdered the day, she went through the metamorphosis that unlocks her powers, Joanna has to adapt to being this new person. Exactly with this purpose in mind Vicki has her going through a drastic plastic surgery to become her sister. It’s not only a quest to find a place on the battlefield, but to find the person that you are. “Who are you?” is the question Joanna posses to the woman staring back from the mirror and we witness how she is getting closer to finding that answer in between receiving punches and multiple stab wounds.

By the length of the review, you can conclude how much I liked it and I can still comment on everything ranging from the author’s choice of words to the secondary characters and the amazing climax surrounding the traitor among the Light Zodiac. All I can say is that Vicki Pettersson has arrived, plans to stay and there is nothing stopping her.

PS: I am sure stupid for not actually posting this one before I posted the review of the second novel in the series, but well this me realizing my mistake and being unable to write about something new.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails