Book Review – Shadows and Relics by L.L. Gray

No matter what happens, I will always think the Urban Fantasy genre is worthy of respect. Building a sci-fi or fantasy world whole cloth is a blast, no doubt about it. But taking our world and adding elements to it – bizarre and extraordinary elements – and making it feel real takes a deft brush. Now, granted, New Orleans has always had a touch of the bizarre and extraordinary, but not to the extent of leprechauns owning bars. At least not last time I was there. Again, granted, I was pretty drunk but I’m fairly certain I’d recognize a leprechaun behind a bar.

So, let’s take New Orleans. The city of vampires and voodoo, absinthe and witchery. The only place I’ve ever been that came stocked with a leather store and a voodoo store. The perfect setting for some explosive entertainment involving magic, werewolves, and fae magic. Now, drop a smart-talking tough with just enough street sense to know when she’s in over her head into the milieu, stir gently, and wait for the fireworks.

I’ve never been into rehashing plots. If you want to know the plot of the story, look below for a synopsis and then buy the book and read it. Trust me, L.L. can tell you the story better than I can. Instead, let’s take a closer look at the elements of the story: Deception, intrigue, and adventure. A lot of urban fantasy focuses primarily on the latter. There’s nothing wrong with a good adventure, but a linear plot can get tedious. Go here, fight these folks. Go over there, fight those folks. It’s the literary equivalent of an 80s Schwarzenegger movie. Entertaining, amusing, a serious drain on the national popcorn reserves, but ultimately just a tale of large people beating each other up. Now, drop some deception and intrigue into the mix and you’ve got yourself the makings of a serious ass-kicking cocktail.

And, while the writing is top-notch and the characters fun, it’s the change in the blueprint that really breathes life into Gray’s story. A simple task that gets well out of hand and various threads that all get woven together into a neat tapestry of magic, mystery, and a surprisingly relatable villain.

And let’s not forget Meridiana.

So, if you’re into strong female characters with karambits (they’re fun knives, I highly recommend them), some less-than-common magical folk, and an overall fun story that will keep you guess, pick up a copy of Shadows and Relics. And for this trip to New Orleans, you can leave the stakes behind. Although some steaks might come in handy.

A dark ritual. Werewolves on my trail. A single chance to uncover the truth…

Cameron Blaze is my name, living on the edge is my game. Acquiring an ancient artifact? Sure, I like old stuff. Procuring a precious? I’ve got some sticky fingers right here. I will do pretty much anything to make rent and will enjoy the hell out of the ride as I go.

When werewolves turn up in New Orleans for the first time in living memory, I was curious. When they start to disrupt my business, I was annoyed. But when they come at me? I’m ready to open a can of whoop-the-wolf, no matter the consequences.

Adding to my canine conundrum, ghosts are disappearing from the New Orleans cemeteries and rumors of dark rituals are floating around the seedy underbelly of my city. To top it off, a powerful and mysterious relic has gone missing. A relic that, by all accounts, has the power to tear the veil that separates this world from the next to shreds.

With time running out and lives on the line, will I be able to find this ancient relic before all hell is set loose on my city?

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