Review: Shadow’s Messenger – T. A. White

Review: Shadow’s Messenger – T. A. WhiteShadow's Messenger
by T.A. White
Series: Aileen Travers #1
Also in this series: Midnight's Emissary, Moonlight's Ambassador, Dawn's Envoy
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 302
Source: Kindle Unlimited

My rating: One StarOne StarOne Star

Coming home from Afghanistan was supposed to be something great. That ended when I met tall, dark and handsome in a bar and wound up in a dumpster sporting a nice set of fangs and my life flipped on its head.

Now I'm a messenger for Hermes Courier Service trying to make enough to support my ice cream habit while staying below vampire radar. When this newest job of mine goes disastrously awry, it puts me on the hook to be indentured to a sorcerer for the next fifty years unless I can find a way to fix things.

What's hidden can't stay in the shadow's forever and my life will never be the same.

Amazon  Indiebound

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Content warnings: View Spoiler »

“A warning. Vampires are fascinated by mysteries and will do anything to solve them.”

I discovered T.A. White through her Firebird Chronicles and then promptly started working my way through her earlier books. Her Aileen Travers series is urban fantasy as opposed to science fiction, but there’s several similarities between both series, my favorite being an attitude-filled heroine who’s dragged against her will into another society. Despite that, this had some other factors that didn’t work out as well for me.

“What I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me. Or so I told myself.
That truth wouldn’t hold for much longer. Not knowing about myself or the spooks around me was going to get me hurt or killed.”

Left for dead after being attacked by a vampire only a few days after returning from a tour of Afghanistan, Aileen has had two years to settle in to her new nocturnal lifestyle and her job with the Hermes courier company, where she cycles around Columbus delivering packages and gossip to its supernatural community. She’s mostly content to keep her head down, do her job, and keep living her life as close to “normal” as possible. But when a delivery goes wrong, she’s suddenly forced into the world of sorcerers, witches, werewolves, and vampires, with a killer nipping at her heels. Can Aileen survive both her enemy and her new “allies?”

“You’re not very smart,” Brax said, his words taking on a guttural edge.
“So people keep telling me.”

Aileen is certainly an interesting character. She’s not much more powerful than a regular human, which is ridiculously underpowered compared to alpha werewolf Brax or vampire Enforcer Liam. She’s well aware of this, so when confronted, her first line of defense is to run away, though her main super power seems to be pissing people off until they act rashly. At times, Aileen did put a toe over the “too stupid to live” line. She admits that she deliberately made the choice to not seek out more information about being a vampire, despite working with the paranormal community. She knows that the vampires would make her cut contact with her family and basically control her life – and she had enough of that in the military. As the book continues though she realizes that her ostrich act was not helpful. What information she does have she uses smartly, though, and through downright annoyance and manipulation she manages to save the day.

“Petty, I know, but sometimes you just had to allow your feelings to rule or end up regretting it years down the road. It was good for them to realize I wasn’t a doormat. That I had teeth, even if they were small, baby ones.”

Aileen’s got a bit of a chip on her shoulder, and doesn’t even really get along with her own family, who are convinced she either is an alcoholic or has PTSD. Her mother thinks she isn’t living up to her potential, so tries to find her own ways of controlling her. And that’s a theme through the book. Most of the other characters are textbook alpha holes, convinced they know what’s right for Aileen without ever really checking in with her or explaining anything to her. Everyone wants to control her in some way, and for the most part Aileen is powerless to stop it. She’s smart, though, and somehow usually finds a way to wriggle out a situation. The mystery plot was interesting and did its job of introducing the reader and Aileen to the cast of paranormal characters in Columbus. The world building was also decent, though there wasn’t much about it to distinguish this book from the majority of other urban fantasy series.

“The young these days are less likely to have the strength of will to cling to life after it has faded.”
“Okay, grandpa. I get it. My generation is the source of all ills in the world.”
“You are truly an irritating individual.”

Overall, this is a decent first entry in series, and I’d give it around 3.5 stars. I’ll definitely be picking up the next book just to see more of Aileen sassing way above her weight class.

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