BFTA Review: Vicki Pettersson – The Scent of Shadows


Title: The Scent of Shadows
Author: Vicki Pettersson
Simon & Schuster
Rating: 3/5
Read for: 2011 Urban Fantasy Challenge

When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert. By rights, she should be dead.
Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset–a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow–seeking answers to whom or what she really is…and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.
But the nightmare is just beginning–for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful shadows want her for their own… (

If it’s set in Vegas, I’m going to read it. I was really pleased that I recognized a lot of the places that Ms. Pettersson mentions in her novel. I know how dirty Charleston Boulevard can be, and the further north from the strip you go, the dirtier it gets. Each time a place was mentioned, either an eatery, a shop, or just an intersection, I went, “I know where that’s at!”
I almost expected the book to open with a little of Joanna’s photography and take a while to build into the meat of the book, so I was really surprised when the book just took the plunge, and I was immersed in Joanna’s world a lot faster than I expected.
The action is fast-paced and doesn’t recede for very long for an actual plot to take place. And, truth be told, I like the action. It’s quick, sometimes it’s brutal, and it leaves a taste for wanting more.
But here’s what I had an issue with: Joanna. Joanna has gone through something brutal, and goes about making herself strong again… by hunting down the man who attacked her? It’s always a weird prospect, and an unlikely one, and it makes Joanna’s character a little unbelievable from the start. Not to mention her very quick reintroduction with her ex-boyfriend, Ben, which quickly moves into a physical relationship that Joanna can’t continue with her new life.
Even more unbelievable, the Zodiac’s storylines are turned into comic books, written by a comic book store owner and illustrated by one of his patrons, not to mention the trading cards. It turned their lives as superheroes from something like Spiderman into something absolutely surreal, and I had to block that part out in my mind to continue with the story.
Every now and then, Joanna comes across as a Mary Sue, and it gets a little distracting. Fortunately, the action scenes make up for the lack of Joanna’s personality, although it couldn’t do anything for the comic books and trading cards.

Originally posted 03 March 2011.


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