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“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.” –  Junichiro Tanizaki

Matia Evans knows the strength of silence. A sword and a cudgel, silence is the friend that never leaves her side. And in her world of shades of black, white, and gray, silence is the truth that delves past the face of glamour. She has never seen blue, yellow, or green. But when terrorists blow up La Guardia Airport while she and her father are waiting for their plane to Boston, that particular shade of charcoal announcing the color others call ‘red’, the supposedly vibrant crimson of blood, splashes, drips and pools. And Matia Evans will never be the same. For, after hours of pushing and bullying the other survivors into searching the ruins for survivors alongside her, in a devastated and blocked off Terminal B, Matia is dying. Funny. After hours on end of brutal, bloody labors, finding endless corpses, but at times the joy of the forms of the living, Matia is dying in the lap of a stranger, of smoke inhalation and the chemical funk which permeates the air. And she’s OK with that. Lives were saved, her life ends on a positive note, and at least if her father really is dead, he will have gone before her. He won’t have to mourn her loss.

But sometimes, unlike taxes, the shadow of Death may be turned away. And when Matia wakes up in hospital, her life is about to change in ways she would have, could have, never expected.

I first read and reviewed Ms. Blain with “Beneath the Blood Moon” and though I really did enjoy it, I was disappointed that her work could have benefited from a content editor to make sure she tied up all her loose ends and kept her story focused. That isn’t the case with “Shadowed Flame.” This is, by far, one of the better written stories in the YA/Paranormal genre. And while there is a romance, it is so well written I hate to call it “Paranormal Romance.” Yes, it is there, but it is only a portion of a rich tapestry of story, character and world.  (Oh, and it is ‘clean’ too. We don’t have to know exactly ‘how’ the bedroom calisthenics are carried out – only that they occur – and they are only a small part of the overarching story line.) I was surprised, and incredibly pleased, to follow the story of Matia, her struggles, losses and pain, but also her deep conviction and drive to do the right thing, no matter the pain it caused her. Ms. Blain has written a story with solid character development and world building, two of the most important things I look for in books. Her writing is focused and crisp, and her development of Matia, especially, is probably the best representation of a driven, dedicated, loving young woman of character and strength. Only eighteen, she has taken the gifts she was given and blossomed into a woman who others respect. And when she actually opens her mouth and speaks, well, people do tend to listen.

This isn’t a silly book by any means. A good portion of the story comes before the La Guardia explosion, and builds your understanding and care for Matia and her father, as well as the more minor players in her life. Her father is a hoot, I truly enjoyed his character as well. To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure I was going to like Matia.

“For the third time since arriving at work two hours ago, Dad tripped over his own feet and smacked face first into the carpet. The thump of him hitting the floor drowned out my sigh. I debated whether to get up and help him or stay at my desk and observe his efforts to restore his dignity.”

Of course, by the second page I had grasped their relationship, sighing and rolling my own eyes over the incident. Between Ralph’s apparent ‘Clumsy Curse’ and Matias parsimonious use of words, their relationship has a comedic balance that is apparent throughout the book, always showing up at unexpected times. There is a deep love and understanding between the two that made the whole book worthwhile on its own.

Once Ms. Blain begins the ‘paranormal’ portion of the book, there is a maturity and dignity to the characters that I much admired. There isn’t the ‘wham-bam’ sort of presentation of other, less developed books in the genre. ‘See woman. Take woman. HEA. The End.’ Instead, Ms. Blain turns the paranormal romance portion of the book on its head, in a most interesting way. I would have read the book just for that fact, but it is so much more that I simply couldn’t put it down.

I am impressed, and very pleased, that I picked up Shadowed Flame, and am anxious to learn how you like it as well. Though I wasn’t able to give Beneath the Blood Moon a more than moderate rating, I am very happy to say I give this one full marks! You can pick up Shadowed Flame here. It is on Kindle Unlimited, so you can read for free, or purchase the book for your library.

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