Review: “Shadowed Blade,” J.C. Daniels

Pros: We get to learn plenty more about Kit’s family
Cons: A lot of confusion at first
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Shadowed Blade (Colbana Files Series Book 5), by J.C. Daniels/Shiloh Walker, starts off very confusing with some weird thing about a healer who can supposedly heal cancer (which should be impossible), and Kit and Justin going to investigate, and then–uh, time skips ahead and moves on to other things without explanation. But anyway, Kit and Justin end up on the run from an extremely dangerous witch who’s been sent after them, possibly having to do with the jobs Kit is taking from President Whitmore. Justin ends up hurt and Colleen nurses him back to health. Then Justin and Colleen both go missing, and Kit’s extremely powerful psychic friend Nova helps Kit go after them. A figure from Kit’s past shows up, triggering some very interesting revelations. And Whitmore turns out to be more than he seems.

Daniels seems to spend the initial part of the story being as cryptic and circumspect as possible to avoid explaining what was going on with the mysterious healer. I wish she hadn’t. It wouldn’t have harmed the story any to explain what was going on (we find out toward the end of the book), and the confusion just totally discombobulated me for the first portion of the book. Sometimes writers get a little too determined to keep all their secrets for the last moment, and I think that can undermine the story in cases like this. (Note: I have since found out this might partially be related to a stand-alone story set in this universe. I think that when you’re going from “book four” to “book five” you should be able to expect non-confusing continuity. And I still believe the relevant details that came out later in the book could have been worked in at the beginning to clear things up.)

Just a content/trigger warning for some: presence of explicit (consensual) sex, and mentions/threats of rape. This novel could also have used one last editing pass to catch missing/repeated/misspelled words (could be worse, though).

Kit and Damon and those around them start noticing some interesting discrepancies regarding President Whitmore, and this becomes quite the interesting plot. Unspooling what he’s up to is intriguing, and oddly tied in to Kit’s past. It eventually becomes clear why the President of all people would want Kit’s help, which is nice.

Poor Colleen and Justin. They really go through hell in this book. It’s a reminder that Daniels writes people who’ve been traumatized extremely well. It’s tough to read about, but handled beautifully.

I’m relieved to see some of the events that come up in this book, but I don’t want to get into detail and spoil some of the surprises. Damon seems a little one-note this time; I’m hoping we see more of him than just his super-protectiveness of Kit again soon. Overall while this installment had some problems that the earlier books lacked, I’m still enjoying the series and looking forward to reading more of it.

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