The first in the urban fantasy series about antiques dealer Kira Solomon.

Publication year: 2010
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible Inc.
Narrator: Allyson Johnson
Running Time: 9 hours, 6 minutes

Kira Solomon never knew her parents. She grew up in an orphanage but was adopted by a nice family. However, when Kira’s powers manifested when she was 12, her parents can’t raise her anymore. They brought her to Balm who is the mysterious leader of the Gilead Commission which protects the world from the Fallen and the demons. Kira grows up in the Commission and becomes one of their best Shadowchasers.

When Kira touches an object, she can read its history and possible magical power, but when she touches a human with her bare hands, she will suck the life right out of him or her. Thanks to the Commission’s training, she’s also an expert fighter. She can fight with any weapon but her favorite is her Light Blade because she can channel her power through it. By day, she’s a freelance antique’s dealer and by night she hunts demons. Oh, and she’s black.

Antiques dealer Bernie Comstock is one of Kira’s closest friends and also her mentor. He has found an intriguing dagger and brings it to Kira so that she can find out if it’s a genuine Egyptian artifact. After Bernie leaves the dagger to Kira, she finds out that the dagger is genuinely over four thousand years old and very powerful. Also, the dagger’s original owner is alive and looking for it.

Then, Bernie is killed. Kira uses her powers on Bernie’s blood and finds out that a powerful demon is after the dagger. She swears to avenge his death. She’s also upset because she though that Bernie knew nothing about magic or her life as a Shadowchaser. Now, she finds out that Bernie had been her handler and employed by the Commission.

Khefar is four thousand years old Nubian warrior and he wants his dagger back. He’s immortal after a fashion and he’s been fighting the darkness for a long time. He’s finally close to atoning for his deeds and finding rest. But in order to do that, he has to get his dagger back and get back to work. His guide is a wraith called Nansi.

As an Indiana Jones fan, I loved the concept of the book. However, Shadow Blade isn’t really similar to the movies. The people stay in the same area instead of traveling all of the world, raiding tombs. But, there’s plenty of excitement in the book. There are some pretty intense fight scenes between Kira and demons, especially near the end. There are also some secrets and mysteries to discover.

Kira herself is a typical tough gal UF heroine. She dislikes her closest supervisor who tries to limit Kira’s actions and tie her more to a desk than a motorcycle. However, I liked it that her powers have personal drawbacks. She can’t eat food that is made by anyone else and is a strict vegetarian. Since she can’t touch another person, she’s had only one lover in her life and they had just one weekend when her lover gave her a potion that neutralized her powers. (Although, I found it really hard to believe that Kira never wondered where that potion had come from or tried to get more herself.) When Kira notices that she can touch Khefar without killing him, she’s naturally drawn to him.

She’s somewhat worried about the state of her soul because battling Shadow creatures puts her near magics which can corrupt her.

Khefar has surprisingly modern attitudes but of course, he’s lived through history and has had to change with the times. He’s atoning for the horrible things he’s done in the past. Before he became immortal, he had wife and kids, but has no problems having a relationship now. Also, when he dies, there are certain conditions that have to be fulfilled or he dies forever which makes the process more interesting and might make a good plot twist in a sequel.

Their relationship starts perhaps a bit too quickly but at least Khefar isn’t an arrogant asshole.

I really liked the supporting cast. Kira’s best friend, Wynne Marlowe, is a metalworker and a witch. She and her husband are Kira’s backup, too, and they know about the Commission even though they aren’t on the Commission’s payroll. Khefar’s guide Nansi is a fun character who looks like an old black man. He likes to cook and party, and seems to have an agenda of his own. Then there’s the psychic vampire Dimaas (spelling?) who owns the bar DMZ where people, and creatures, both from the side of Light and Shadow can party together. Normal humans can also interact with non-humans there. Dimaas is one of Kira’s information sources and a shameless flirt. Kira’s foster mother Balm is a mysterious figure. She doesn’t tell anyone about her past, or even her real name, and Kira is determined to find out who Balm is. However, it’s clear that Balm cares for Kira deeply.

There’s a lot of Egyptian mythology in the book. Kira follows Ma’at: she prays to her and has her altar in her house. Khefer is the follower of the goddess Isis. I love Egyptian mythology.

The world has at least two types of magic: Light Magic which the good people use and Shadow Magic which apparently smells of chaos and evil. Normal people can’t sense magic at all. The Fallen don’t have their own bodies but instead need a human host. However, they have half-breed demons and Shadow Magic workers on their side.

Johnson is a good reader. She uses different voices with different characters. However, her reading pace is unhurried which might make some listeners impatient. To my surprise, it made me pay more attention to the reading (I usually do other things while listening a audio book so sometimes I get distracted). With Nansi and some other characters, she uses a little bit of slang (which I presume is in written in) and a intonations that I associate with black people. (I don’t live in English speaking country, so I don’t have much personal experience with spoken English.)

All in all, this was a entertaining read and I will be getting the sequel where we’ll hopefully get an established couple