[REVIEW] Shade Fright – Sean Cummings

Sean Cummings
Shade Fright (Valerie Stevens, Book 1)
Snowbooks (UK: 1st March 2010)
Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Valerie Stevens works for Government Services and Infrastructure Canada as an alchemist, investigating preternatural activity. When a grain bin disappears from a farm (and is later discovered stopping traffic on the streets of Calgary) and flocks of dead birds drop from the sky, Val knows she’s dealing with something altogether different – who attacks her via her dreams. With the help of her dump truck-driving boyfriend, zombie pal, troll mentor, and a shade with an enchanted staff and a spellbook, Calgary may soon again be safe…at least until the next preternatural problem strikes.

Canada is a welcome setting from the glut of American cities that overpopulate the urban fantasy scene. (Nothing personal against the USA; I just need more variety of countries.) Together, Val and Caroline make the best dynamic duo in adult UF since Mark Henry’s Amanda Feral and Wendy, only Sean Cummings’s ladies are a lot more likable. And the Ukrainian sentences have me wondering who the author’s source is – do tell!

The story starts off great, but soon it becomes more fantasy than urban, requiring the reader to spend more effort suspending disbelief. The troll mentor was too much, and his really annoying choice of words. Mind you, it doesn’t take much to give me the irrits, but still…

But the novel is in serious need of a good copyeditor. I don’t blame the author or the editor, because they’ve read the book so many times that their eyes are no longer fresh. Snowbooks is an independent press that may not be able to afford a professional copyeditor, but there are so many things that stood out here that it really reflects badly on the publisher. For example, the first chapter of the next book in the series is excerpted, and I counted at least five errors in that alone, post-midnight when my brain is not at its sharpest. But the most unintentionally hilarious typo in Shade Fright is when Bogdan’s name appears as “Bogan” on one page 😉

Still, the pure awesomeness of Val, Caroline and Canada is so appealing that I’ll definitely show up for round two. Let’s just hope a good copyeditor shows up, too.

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