"Shadowdance" pleasantly surprised me in every way as the latest installment in Kristen Callihan's "Darkest London" series. Wonderful attention to worldbuilding in a steampunk/supernatural environment, smoking chemistry between two very well developed characters, and a plot with many surprising revelations that it had me turning pages, not wanting to tear myself away from the beautiful writing or overarching tale.
This is probably my favorite book in the series to date.
"Shadowdance" begins where "Winterblaze" left off. Shifter Jack Talent reels within a long road to recovery after the events of the last novel, but he has no time to truly recover as he's partnered with long time rival Mary Chase to catch a serial killer, known as the "Bishop of Charring Cross." The victims are shifters, left with a cross upon their bodies, and there's fear that Jack may be among those targeted next.
Suffice to say, Mary and Jack do not hit it off very much, at least not without a lot of fun banter traded between them in points. Their chemistry is very natural, humor leaving me chuckling as I watched them work the case together, but both characters have their share of darkness surrounding their pasts, and secrets that will blow the case for the Bishop and beyond wide open. Callihan's writing builds the world, action, sentiments of the characters, and the overarching conflict quite vividly. It was easy to allow myself to be drawn into the narrative. There are angles of the plot where the characters make revelations that surprised me and kept me wondering what would happen as the case for the Bishop, Jack's respective history and secrets, as well as Mary's overarching role collide.
I think Jack and Mary both made the novel stand out for me. Jack's grief was palpable and every moment that I saw him struggle within that fear made me want to hug him. But when he steps up to the plate to fight, he fights well, sometimes not without a nice quip to follow with it. Mary was awesome and I loved how the novel portrayed her as a ghost in the machine (GIM) for her abilities. She was also a character I could follow very well with respect to her history, which much like Jack's has its share of weight.
Characters featured in the previous novels make an appearance as well - with attention especially to Poppy and Ian mostly because of their respective ties to the main characters. There's also a building sidestory with Holly and Trent that I won't spoil because it has much to do with the case within, but I think the set up may be for their characters to get a notable space within the follow-up to this novel.
Suffice to say though, I can't wait to read the next book in this series. It's earned a place among my favorite series to date, and Callihan's writing continues to shine with each new installment. Highly recommended.
Overall score: 4.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as a print ARC from the publisher Forever.