Shady Lady - Ann Aguirre
Corine finds herself embroiled in more danger when Kel Ferguson, the crazy God’s Hand warrior from Blue Diablo, walks into Corine’s shop and saving her from a hex death spell. She finds out that Montoya, the drug lord from Blue Diablo is unable is determined to get vengeance against Corine who is the only one not protected from his wrath and finds herself in the midst of several assassination attempts. Her only hope is to team up with the rival of Montoya, who is just as dangerous.Warning:I won’t be able to review this book without verging into some spoilers -- although I will try to keep it light.This is the 3rd instalment of the Corine Soloman series, and I have to say it’s the best yet! It’s rare for a series to have each book with a different tone. Unlike the previous instalment with the claustrophobic creepy atmosphere, Shady Lady is a fast paced, hectic tale of vengeance. I really felt that Corine really came to her own in Shady Lady, while the last book had major repercussions and developments about Corine, her past, and her magical abilities. This book explores more about her choices -- past and present -- which definitely has major ramifications for her. However the real highlight and pure joy of this book was Kel! OMG! He literally leapt out of the pages for me (although he definitely made his presence felt in Blue Diablo!), but in Shady Lady he really shines because he’s such a vivid and memorable character. Ann Aguirre deftly uncovers some layers of his character and personality that showed a new and multifaceted side him. I also loved the new dynamic that developed between him and Corine, and I think a few fans of the series who will want more of this!However, the character that showed the most growth and development had to be Corine. Instead of just reacting against the events and the obstacles thrown at her, Corine is definitely more proactive due to the events of the past couple of books. While the previous book dealt with her past, the choices at the end of that book resonates big time in Shady Lady -- the title is pretty fitting because Corine’s decisions are like that. By the end of the book, Corine had changed in some ways. She’s definitely emerged a much tougher and harder edged character. I loved the evolution of her character due to these events and her choices and shows how much development from the more quieter and in some ways subdued character from the first book compared to the more proactive character that she is now. I especially loved how she took on Montoya with her wits and magical abilities but knowing the full price which she has to grapple with and the burden she will have to face with. There was some fantastic creepy scenes, most notable one was where Corine faces possessed monkeys (and it was pretty damn scary) as well as demons and psychotic drug lords and warlocks. But when Corine turns the tables and acts against Montoya it shows how far she has grown, and how ruthless she has to become to survive in the violent and dark world where she doesn’t want to belong in. The ending was heartbreaking although hints of new and old possibilities. Corine really goes through the wringer in this book, but it’s a book where she realises that making deals with the devil (and she makes a couple in this book) can backfire and throws her life in disarray. I think in a lot of ways Corine was reborn in this book and the quest-like journey she takes with Kel in the first half of the book was a gauntlet that reshaped her mentally and emotionally. End spoilers:The Corine Soloman series is not the usual Urban Fantasy fare with the ass-kicking smart alec heroine. Each book feels like a part of a tapestry has been unveiled that shows aspects of Corine’s past and hinting of her future, which is definitely going to be big. And so far each book has brought something different and new which has definitely kept me guessing. And there is MAJOR revelations in this book that hints of a truly epic struggle coming to a head. I think for me this series is firmly cemented as one of the best UF around! Shady Lady was a fast pace, that had a great vengeance plot and sharp characters with depth. As well an atmospheric tone and setting that you can almost taste and feel. And you know what? I think we really haven’t seen the best from this series yet! I give Shady Lady an A!