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Book Review: In The Shadows by Jess Dixon

In the Shadows was written by my friend Jess Dixon and is now available as an ebook from Amazon and Smashwords. I was lucky enough to read it pre-publication and would be counted amongst the people who encouraged Dixon to publish, because I enjoyed it and thought others deserved to enjoy it too. It’s a vampire love story and, as much as Twilight has damaged the genre, perhaps In The Shadows will go some way to recovering it.

In the Shadows is a love story between Raven Lockleare, an ordinary 17-year-old girl, and Errol Richmond, a 150-year-old vampire. It’s not just their love story, however, as Errol also has a relationship with Jezebel, daughter of the original Vampire Lord Malroch. Errol fell in love with Jezebel as a mortal but this turned to hate when she killed and ‘turned’ him. You also learn about relationships between the other characters. The overarching theme is love and how it can conquer anything. Even death.

Photo by Cavin on Flickr

The vampires in this novel are classic vampires – monstrous blood drinkers that are truly dangerous. I think what Dixon does very well is create a history for them, and a culture. She takes all the questions about how and why vampires might exist in the real world and answers them, so there’s a believability to her fiction. She also doesn’t pull her punches so be prepared for a bit of an emotional roller-coaster.

What I particularly liked is that In The Shadows isn’t inward-facing; the characters have lives around them and relationships with other people. Raven has family, friends, and hobbies which are important to her and make their presence known. You get a sense of every-day minutia carrying on around this extraordinary romance, making it more believable and also acting as an important contrast between the world of humans and the world of vampires. In The Shadows is a fantasy firmly grounded in reality. Dixon really understands how people think and channels that into her characters. In The Shadows is written as a first-person narrative that switches between characters, showing you different perspectives at different parts of the story. You even get to see events from the antagonists point of view so even they are relatable and you understand their motivations. Individual’s personal narratives interweave to create the overall story.

Photo by Juliana Coutinho
Photo by Juliana Coutinho

I know the vampire-romance genre is a bit of a cliché but Dixon does a good job at making it fresh. In The Shadows is a very easy book to read; it compels you to keep reading and find out what happens next as a good novel should. It is very romantic with some beautiful visuals including a Ball and a balcony scene reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. It also utilises one of my favourite kind of endings, which I obviously cannot describe for fear of spoiling it. If you want to find out what it is I guess you’ll just have to read the book! At only $2.99 USD there’s really no excuse not to.

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