Ed stays in London because of a research for his new book, but he never would have guessed what awaits him there even though he knows every trick in the book, literally. He’s an author who writes about ghosts. He has his own, very personal reasons for that and doesn’t even know himself whether he is crazy or not.
When he meets the mysterious Deleena at a party, he is instantly interested in her. The more time they spend together, the more he realizes that there is much he doesn’t know – which includes the danger she puts him in. A search for answers he never would have expected starts – and that he would be better off without.
What am I to do with this book? After finally reading and liking the City trilogy it was clear to me that I would read Darren Shan’s other adult books as well. I didn’t expect “Lady of the Shades” to be the same but a book with the promised twists and turns that would entertain me for some hours. This is what I got in a way, but … different, with some negative points and anyway, rather late as well.
Maybe I should start with the similarities: Already the City trilogy was rather noir-ish and it’s the same with “Lady of the Shades”; this actually nearly tells too much. Just let me say one thing: the characters are those of this genre (if you consider noir to be one), which has its advantages and disadvantages.
Normally, I like it when characters are neither “good” nor “bad”, and these aren’t; they have their (many) mistakes but can do good things as well. But, and that’s the difference here, they’re never the least bit likable. There are different reasons for that, some that you might agree with or not. Many will probably like the characters better than I do.
Still, there’s this one thing that already irked me in the City trilogy but was dealt with satisfyingly in the end. This is not the case here. What I’m talking about? Well, 90% of the characters are sexist and managed to infuriate me with their stupid comments again and again. Even those that might know better spread such nonsense that it’s okay if a man hits a woman if he loves her and is just jealous. Compared to all this, it seems to be rather unimportant that someone even uses a derogatory term for themselves. Sometimes I just wanted to cry out of frustration.
Now you can say that’s just how the characters were designed, that it’s realistic. There are many people thinking like this, so why would you exclude it from literature? And you would be right with that, but it’s about how the topic’s dealt with.
I know that authors don’t necessarily share their characters’ views and the last thing I want to do is accusing Darren Shan of sexism. But the book made me think simply because I didn’t think that the sexism is actually addressed. It is part of the characterization and that’s that. Though this is no book for young adults, which would be supposed to teach the readers something, many adults still have to learn a lot about sexism of all kinds. I missed the message that this is not the right way to go, so “Lady of the Shades” left me with a bitter aftertaste. This, of course, took away a lot of fun I could have had with the novel.
Besides that, the first half of the books is … well, not entirely boring but near enough. On the one hand, the rest of the story needs this part and the sudden twist was much more enjoyable. On the other hand, not everything worked the way it was probably supposed to work: I never believed the love story in it. It was just too sudden and too much. If the author chose to tell a calmer story to begin with, I would have nothing to complain about. But this way I mostly stared at the text disbelieving. That you’re instantly fascinated? No problem. But this? That wasn’t convincing at all and some things happening later didn’t affect me, because I couldn’t believe in this love. I can’t say I wasn’t surprised then, but I didn’t care much about it either.
That’s not the case with everything that happens, but with much, unfortunately. In the end, it wouldn’t be the first book that I wouldn’t be affected by but that I could still enjoy. Combined with my problems with the characters, though, this isn’t a good start.
Still, the second part could save the book for me, at least a little bit. The story would have been better if I could have felt the emotions, but it’s good enough.
Because of many other reviews I didn’t even try to guess how the story’s going to turn out. Even if I had, I probably would have been wrong. Darren Shan managed several times in this novel to surprise me, so I just had to stare at the lines to really understand what has happened. If you’re looking for a book like this, you know what to read.
That’s exactly why I’m so uncertain about how much I liked the book. I loved the second half and together with the first it could still be a good book. But: the sexism. Did I miss something important? Am I too sensitive? I normally perceive myself as someone who is actually too ignorant.
In the end, my rating’s supposed to show how I felt about the novel, so this has to be considered as well. As sorry as I am, the characters ruined the book a little bit for me, and I don’t agree with how the topic was dealt with here.
If you like noir, this is the book to read. Unfortunately, the characters’ faults and wrongdoings are not really an issue in this story and the recurring sexist comments made me simply mad with rage. Emotionally, I wasn’t really convinced as well, but I did like the plot with its surprises. Still, I have to say: This could have been better.