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Walking Shadows by Narrelle M. Harris

Walking Shadows

by Narrelle M. Harris

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Walking Shadows by Narrelle M Harris is actually the second novel featuring these characters, something I didn't realise until after I'd bought it. However, I can happily report that reading it without reading the prequel first in no way affected by enjoyment of it.

Lissa is a Melbournian librarian whose best friend, Gary, is a dorky vampire. Shenanigans ensue when the vampires of Melbourne start being killed in dramatically permanent ways. Lissa, concerned for Gary, can't help but stick her nose into matters to protect him.

I really loved this book. I was expecting to enjoy it after having read Harris' Showtime collection, in which the titular story featured Lissa and Gary, and it surpassed my expectations. Walking Shadows was full of amusing narration (in first person) and entertaining exchanges between Lissa and the people in her life. I laughed out loud many times (and silently a few times when I was reading during a bout of insomnia and didn't want to wake up the husband). The fact that it was set in Melbourne didn't hurt, either.

I liked the vampire mythos Harris has used. In this world, vampires don't have to drink blood to survive, but they get a buzz if they do; the human blood moving through their system makes them feel a bit more alive and helps them think. Most of the time, they have difficulty with new concepts (hence living in the past) and can't think creatively. In short, they're less smart than humans and one of the reasons they might keep humans around is to help them with the thinking their less active synapses have trouble with. (Of course, that also means some of them are stuck in a killing for fun rut...)

Taken at face value, the main plot isn't the most surprising aspect of the book. However, Harris includes many layers to Lissa's life, beyond the vampiric associations. Despite the life-threatening situations, she continues to care about her job, sister, friends and pet dog. I liked that she retained a sense of perspective and cared that she was making people worry about her (unlike some main characters I won't mention).

I am definitely going to read the first Lissa and Gary book, The Opposite of Life, some time soon. It has moved dramatically up my "to buy" list. (I hope I can get it off Book.ish — does anyone know if their geo-restrictions care about IP addresses or only about credit cards? Rest assured you'll see me ranting on Twitter if I can't.)

Walking Shadows was an excellent read and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for highly entertaining urban fantasy. I'm tempted to say it's a light read, but that's not really true as it tackles some serious issues albeit without taking itself to seriously. I loved the characters and I particularly recommend it to people looking for somewhat non-standard vampires in an Australian setting.

4.5 / 5 stars

You can read more of my reviews on my blog. ( )
1 vote Tsana | Feb 21, 2013 |
Okay, so what I'm really saying is that I don't get vampire fiction, unless it's Swedish or funny, and it probably helps to be set in my home state. To be honest I doubt I would have even given WALKING SHADOWS another glance, only I was doing the formatting of the ebook, and phrases, passages and paragraphs kept catching my eye. (Sorry Lindy and Narrelle ... I suspect it took me a little longer to do that ebook than would normally be the case). So anyway, at the end of it, I just figured I had to sit down and read the thing properly.

Which meant I did laugh out loud. Frequently. WALKING SHADOWS is basically a story of the trials and tribulations of friendship. Only this time the friends are letting some slightly weirder personal traits go. I think it's fair to say that Lissa is letting some rather major elements of Gary's life roll. Mind you, I'm not all that up to date with what vampire's do or do not like, so it could very well be that it's a given that Gary's letting stuff roll at the same time.

There is a lot of action in this book, there's a bit of lust and longing, but really, what is at the core of the story is the unlikely friendship between two people. On that aspect you could quite easily ignore the reason for their difference (that whole human / vampire thing) and just as easily see a bit of beauty and the beast. That's what struck me the most about WALKING SHADOWS - at the core, ignoring much effortless climbing of buildings and a lot of other superhuman goings on, there's a story about strength in difference and ultimately acceptance.

Aside from whatever it is about all this vampire palaver that attracts readers, the thing that really delivers in WALKING SHADOWS is a quintessentially Australian voice and sense of humour. Laid back, understated, frequently laugh out loud, it's a book that cleverly balances some of the gory, weird stuff that goes on with vampires and their ongoing battles, with a very modern day, urban, Australian feel. Combine that voice and that very current day scenario, with the underlying message, and there's something very clever about WALKING SHADOWS. A modern-day Beauty and the Beast, a message tale wrapped up in a lot of good fun.

Not, I hasten to add, should my liking WALKING SHADOWS be taken as any indication that I'm changing my mind about vampires. The proviso is now unless they are Swedish or funny and come with a rather clever underlying message. However, something this good comes along again, and I completely reserve my right to change my mind.

(Disclaimer: I wrangle the website for WALKING SHADOWS publisher Clan Destine Press. The wonderful Lindy knows I'm reading this book, but has no idea what I'm thinking / saying about it. Yet.)

http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/walking-shadows-narrelle-m-harris ( )
1 vote austcrimefiction | Aug 30, 2012 |
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A vampire crime novel set in Melbourne. The sequel to The Opposite of Life. A totally original take on vampire lore which features a nerdy librarian heroine and, perhaps, the world's worst vampire. A darkly amusing take on the meaning of life.

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