Shadow-Stained by Rachel Hobbs – A Review
It’s another book review and this one is going to be a little difficult for me. I don’t like not liking a book, especially one that is given to me to review by the author. I always feel bad if that happens and it certainly isn’t ever my intention to bring any kind of negativity on someone. Because of this, this review will not fall in line with my non spoiler/spoiler review format. I think that despite everything this is a book that wholly deserves to be read and tried without me giving all the details away.
So I’m going to try to review this as best I can without letting any plot points go. I want to thank the author for giving me this book in exchange for an honest review. So here we go..
Publication Date: 4/14/20
For her, it’s her late grandma’s legacy. For him, the mother of all black arts spoils, granting one demon the power of a God. Immortality.
When occult-magnet Ruby falls victim to Demon Lord Drayvex’s viperous allure, she loses a sentient dark relic to his light fingers and appetite for power. Like calls to like. But when Drayvex himself loses the relic to a traitor to the throne, Ruby coerces him – the tyrant king with a soft spot for humanity – into helping her save her pokey old world village from becoming a ground zero of mass demonic carnage.
Both invested in reclaiming the relic, the one thing Ruby and Drayvex agree on is that it’s in the wrong hands. Co-existing in a precarious arrangement between predator and prey, to save the planet they both love for different reasons, they must become a formidable double-team in the face of an apocalyptic takeover. Now, the fate of both human and demon alike rests with a killer that walks between worlds, and a woman with a curse in her bloodline.
I read the first chapter before deciding on accepting to review this and I really think it’s a strong first chapter. The characters are laid out nicely and it’s certainly a chapter that hooks you in. After that, things get a little muddy for me. I think that there is a lovely overall plot here. I think that it’s interesting and unique while giving the reader things they are familiar with for this genre.
The problem is that I felt like there wasn’t much explained on the things that drove the story for me but plenty explained on things that didn’t matter so much. We learn why the main character is where she is, but not really. It’s a vague reasoning and it doesn’t explain future things that happen. A lot of what the Demon character does, is inline with what you’d expect for a demon but we don’t get a full understanding of him either.
The world that he comes from is talked about but there isn’t as much details that I think would have been interesting to learn. Of course from what I can gather this is just the first in a series so that could be a reason for those pieces to still be unclear in this book, which is fine, but I would have liked a little more detail on that.
There is her best friend who we learn nothing about of real substance and what is revealed is interesting but it comes out of nowhere and doesn’t make any sense to me at all. On top of that what you learned isn’t really brought up again. Drayvex and Ruby have an intense kind of dynamic and it wasn’t that I disliked it but I also find that anything where a human doesn’t freak the hell out about things that she/he learns in a story feels off for me. That could just be a personal thing. It just felt very trope-y and while that is what a lot of people love, it’s not usually my thing.
There were some typos but the author did advise me that those were addressed and they weren’t even overly distracting more just little ones that you can’t help but notice. The writing itself wasn’t bad, the characterizations weren’t bad either really. It had had moments where the descriptions were more detailed or ‘flowery’ than necessary and I did find myself feeling like the book was a tad too long.
I felt that Drayvex was too powerful most of the time and while I understood that he’s like king Demon or whatever, it seemed like he could never lose. Ruby was a pretty good mix of being able to be badass but also have flaws.
The ending is what really bothered me. Out of everything I could get behind a lot of what had happened and I could be on team Drayvex for a lot of things but the ending just…felt off to me. It’s specifically what he does at the end of the book and it felt like it was just not the right time, kind of a “too little too late” thing. Maybe that was intentional? Maybe the fact that I didn’t like it was proof that I was more invested than I thought? I’m not sure but I didn’t much like that part.
Overall I don’t think that it was a terrible book and I don’t think that it should be overlooked by those that like these kinds of books. I think a lot of the problems that I had with the book were just things that I don’t like and that isn’t to say that others won’t like it.
What I did want to praise, especially in a time where a lot of authors aren’t being very nice to book bloggers or people who don’t like their books, is Rachel Hobbs’ professionalism. I emailed her because I was supposed to be a part of her promotional release book tour for this and I didn’t think it was right to be a part of that and post a low review. I told her some of what I felt and that it was not a bad book just not for me but that I didn’t want to post anything she wasn’t okay with.
She thanked me, told me I could still post it though not for the tour and was perfectly polite. It was a wonderful experience working with her, it’s clear that this book means a lot and I wish her all the best. I do hope that it’s extremely successful.