Review – Shadows & Dreams (Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator #2) by Alexis Hall

Shadows & Dreams cover image

Publisher: Riptide
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Second rule in this line of business: be careful who you kill.

My name’s Kate Kane. And right now, I don’t know which is more dangerous: my job, or my girlfriend. My job makes me the go-to girl for every supernatural mystery in London. My girlfriend’s an eight-hundred-year-old vampire prince. Honestly, I think it’s probably a tie.

A few weeks ago, I was hired for a simple missing person case. Next thing I know, I’m being arrested for murder, a vampire army is tearing up London, and even my dreams are out to get me. Something ancient, evil, and scary as hell is on the loose and looking for payback. The vampires are in chaos, the werewolves are culling everything, and the Witch Queen can’t protect everyone.

Which means it’s down to me. And all I’ve got to hold back the shadows is a stiff drink, a quirky sidekick, my creepy ex-boyfriend, and the woman who left me for a tech startup. It’s going to be another interesting day
This blurb came from the author’s website.

Sheer curiosity inspired me to pick up Hall’s first Kate Kane installment Iron & Velvet because I thought the result of its mash-up of genres would be unlike anything I had read before. I also know Hall possessed the ability to provide me with a gripping emotional story also unlike anything I had read before because of Glitterland so I expected to be taken on an entertaining wild somewhat dark journey. I was correct on both counts. I found his world fascinating and while I wasn’t entirely sure if I had figured Kate out completely I thought she was intriguing. You can look at my thoughts in greater detail here. As a result when I saw that Shadows & Dreams was available for review I had to snag it.

I found Shadows & Dreams much easier to slip into than the first installment because I was already familiar with Kate and her complex world. As a result I think I picked up on more nuances, clearly saw the romantic elements, and drew a more complete picture of Kate. I recall thinking as I was almost finished with the story that she reminded me of Inspector Jacques Clouseau from The Pink Panther (I love those movies). Kate was very well meaning, gullible and yet hard edged in turns, determined to do the right thing regardless of the cost, and rather lacking in self-preservation instinct.

It was great to see Kate develop and transition from the guilt ridden rather severe alcoholic I met in the first installment to someone who still drank but had a variety of other interests and who cared about other people. She was really caught in the middle between several intriguing and rather dangerous women who I will admit made me question her judgment when it came to romantic interests. As the story progressed and I met or heard about ex after ex who alternatively complicated things or tried to kill her I was glad to see Julian, 800 year old vampire prince girlfriend, merely complicate things.

I enjoyed revisiting some of the supporting characters I met in the first installment. I am still fascinated by the incubus who isn’t feeding, the rats with their hive mind, and my favorite animated woman, Elise. Elise has taken on a life of her own and I absolutely love watching her discover different aspects of the world. Her joy and wonder reminds me of every time I watch a child discover something new but she is also a great foil for Kate and softens some of her rough edges. I am looking forward to her future developments as this series progresses.

One of the other things I find fascinating about Hall’s writing for this particular series is how he is able to move Kate between a variety of different cultures. Her refusal to pick one element over any of the others both makes her life more complicated and keeps her out of some of the interspecies conflicts. It was rather entertaining to watch her try to move between them in her attempts to find a missing man while dealing with an extreme amount of upheaval across London proper. Then vampiric, werewolf, and witch politics all started to interfere as their egos and territorial drives clashed, making the investigation more complicated. Given the new knowledge I have about the Vampire Council even though the current crisis has abated, I don’t think everything has quieted down for good.

Shadows & Dreams has solidly hooked me on this series. I enjoyed the first installment as well but I found being familiar with the world allowed me a greater depth of enjoyment. Hall provided some surprises, lots of adventure, some romance, humor, and a complex mystery set in a multi-layered world. Kate’s life is never boring and I am curious to see what she will stumble on when I get to visit her life again.

I give Shadows & Dreams a B+

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