In debt to Melbourne’s paranormal mob, waterfae Ice steals jewels and other shinies, then pawns them for cash. She’s also screwed-up when it comes to relationships – she’s jealous of her friend Azure, who’s secretly in love with their other friend Blaze, who has a thing for Ice, and she’s kind of into him, too…All very daytime soap opera until the prime-time bitchiness comes out. Ice acquires a magic mirror of sorts, which communicates with those it meets. Squidgy, as Ice affectionately names it, gives its owners the courage to live out their secret desires, whether that’s picking a fight with a bloke on the tram, or shagging the bloke with whom your BFF is in love. This is the more interesting plot.
And then there’s Indigo. He’s metalfae, which means it’s difficult to discuss him without snark. Even his hair is “sharp”, and bleeds Ice when she rakes it. The LSD-like descriptions are evocative, and don’t cross the line into purple prose as often as one might assume. But when the time comes for Ice and Indigo to shag…the logic-fail really pulled me out of the story. Remember, Indigo is metalfae, but while his wang may be hard, it’s still flesh. It’s not a Wang of Steel. Indigo is not Iron Wang. It’s a human wang, with real feelings.
Urban fantasy does require a reader’s suspension of disbelief, but face it: Don’t give us a metalfae’s wang and tell us it’s not an iron rod. Seriously.
But enough wangst about wangs, and onto the heavy stuff. Everyone has their period in this book, even the men. Not in those words, but it’s evident in the characters’ behaviour. So is the mirror really evil, or simply surfacing the owners’ secret desires? It could be the latter, because everyone’s a bitch.
On another psychological front, a major character is often possessed by a darker being. It’s an interesting concept, but would’ve been much more powerful had the possessed character instead actually had a real split personality. Often that’s the trouble of urban fantasy – the paranormal is used to distance characters from real life, and thus the reader has to dig deeper to get the crux of the matter. It’s a valiant effort, but it comes across a bit shallow.
Shadowglass remains shiny, from the hallucinogenic descriptions to its vivid friendship dramas. And though shallow on the surface, there’s greater depth behind the colours and sparkles.