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Bound to Shadows by Keri Arthur
Riley Jenson Guardian #8

Dell 2009
Mass Market Paperback
346 pages
Paranormal Romance; Mystery; Urban Fantasy

Riley Jenson is a Guardian – a supernatural enforcer – and half-werewolf, half-vampire. As a dhampire, she’s one of the few daytime Guardians the Directorate has (whose ranks are filled mostly with vampires), and she’s acquired some unusual extra skills along the way – like being able to commune with the spirits of murdered people, and being able to shift into a seagull. She’s smart, sassy, a strong fighter, has an incredibly sexy and ancient vampire boyfriend called Quinn, and is finding it more and more easy to be monogamous with him. After all they’ve been through, Riley and Quinn have finally reached a stage where they’re not fighting each other anymore, but are trying to make it work.

The big proverbial wrench in the works is Kye, a werewolf and cold-hearted assassin, who also happens to be Riley’s soul mate – her werewolf soul mate, anyway. It’s destiny, fate, an unavoidable pull, but Riley doesn’t want Kye any more than he wants to be out of control around her. A double murder case puts him in her orbit once more, and the biggest problem Riley has is how much of herself she’ll lose to him and his demands in exchange for the information he has that could save the next victims’ lives.

There are actually, at one point, three cases on the go here, but one of them was partially solved early on and never referred to again. Here’s the thing: the first three books (which formed a trilogy in terms of an on-going plot line) were excellent, I loved them. Then Quinn was absent for a few books and I struggled to maintain my interest, because without him I realised how little I cared for the stories. When he returned, it got better but by then I’d realised how shaky the actual mysteries/murder investigations were, and become shall we say disillusioned.

I don’t read thrillers or crime novels, it’s a genre that doesn’t appeal to me – I have read a John Grisham and a Patricia Cornwell, and both bored the crap out of me sufficiently to put me off, aside from other flaws. I find the sketchy character development lame or painful, or both, and the mystery dull and flawed. What helps with the Riley Jenson series is that I’ve come a long way with Riley, and I know her well enough not to be constantly annoyed by her – though I find myself somewhat nostalgic for her earlier, carefree days.

The push-and-pull relationship between Riley and Kye invigorates the story, and creates one of the biggest dilemmas of the series – one whose fatal ending is rather predictable, because there’s no other way out. Kye is a character who can never change who and what he is, will never be likeable or honest or at all deserving of Riley. You can hardly blame her for feeling betrayed by her werewolf half. She has yearned so long for her soul mate; but I confess I’m glad she got someone so crappy, just as she was owning up to the honest love she has for Quinn, because really it creates less of a dilemma. The answer of who she should be with is obvious. Quinn wasn’t always as good to her as he could have been, but he’s a character who has changed – or rather, stopped blocking Riley out because of past tragedy that has nothing to do with her. The resolution of Riley’s relationships in this volume is what makes it a satisfying read.

My biggest grumble is, as with previous books in the series, the mystery side of the story, which struggles to hold my attention and often confuses me to the point of distraction. Since there’s usually more than one crime going on at once, it’s often hard to tell which case they’re referring to, and I can’t always keep up with the surnames involved. Also, there are often holes, details that are forgotten or just not referred to again – in this case, one of the big ones was the third, minor case of a vampire draining children at Luna Park. The culprit is found and dealt with, but reveals a bigger problem – one that isn’t investigated further.

What gets me about crime investigations as frame and substance of a book like this, is that everything else gets side-lined. You never get to delve into the characters or the world quite like you’d like to. And that’s one of the strengths of this series: it’s present-day, alternate world was highly original at the time the first book came out, and is still relatively unique and very interesting. I suppose you could compare it to the world of Sookie Stackhouse, but it takes the concept much further.

The other big disappointment for me with this series is that, while it is set in Melbourne, you would hardly ever know it. Aside from a couple of references to places – suburbs, well-known streets, Luna Park (which I used to live near), there’s nothing at all “Australian” about these books, and to me, homesick as I am, that’s a big shame. It also makes me ask: “where is our pride?!” Why do we let ourselves be Americanised so easily? Is it really just because, like Canadians, we aren’t obsessively patriotic and xenophobic? A topic for another day, perhaps.

I’ve said this is Paranormal Romance, but truly it’s more Urban Fantasy – having read a lot of Paranormal Romance by now, the differences seem pretty clear, but it’s still being shelved in Romance. The romance side of things is minimal – there’s sex, but it’s cursory or angry or mindless. There’s some violence, not as much in this book as in others but still plenty. I would still recommend the series, especially the first three (if you don’t like those three, you certainly won’t care for the rest), and I’ll keep reading, but my disappointment has too often outweighed my enjoyment for me to be overly enthusiastic.

The Series So Far:
Full Moon Rising
Kissing Sin
Tempting Evil
Dangerous Games
Embraced by Darkness
The Darkest Kiss
Deadly Desire


Other Reviews:

“Every book takes you on an adventure that is non stop action right until the end. Suspenseful, shocking and very sexy.” Anna’s Book Blog

“I’m always amazed at how totally immersed into Riley’s stories I become.” The Good, The Bad and the Unread

“Keri Arthur has done her character proud and I am so glad I have been along for Riley’s journey.” SciFi Guy

Did you review this book? Leave me a link and I’ll be happy to add it!

16 comments to Review: Bound to Shadows

  • This is something I find very interesting! I read a big online discussion not so long ago about the “Americanisation” of Australian (and sometimes, English) novels. It was primarily about romance novels (switching out cattle station for ranch, naming Australian love-interests things like “Chad”, calling 4WD’s SUV’s, that sort of thing), but it’s the same principle. I love reading books that are set in Australia, I love thinking to myself “haha I know that street” or “I know exactly what the author means there”. It’s sad when in order to get published, some books need to be completely changed and their culture wiped out. I don’t think that local vernacular is THAT tight and centred that people wouldn’t be able to read it and understand. I know what a ranch is, so I’m pretty sure that people can figure out what a cattle station or a sheep station is. Do publishers really think people are that stupid that they can’t? Or is it more about creating a ‘sameness’ where all books use identical terms to describe things and are set in generic cities that could be anywhere, do you think? It would create a ‘reading without thinking’ environment … It doesn’t appeal to me.


    Shannon Reply:

    @Bree, I’ve had many discussions with online friends about this (it says something that I don’t have any “real” friends who share my book obsession!), and found out a few interesting things. In terms of Keri Arthur, I actually mentioned to her once that I hated how her books had been Americanised, and she said (and I can’t blame her) that she was just so happy to be published she didn’t think it was a big deal to change a few words. To me, though, it’s more than just changing a few words isn’t it – it’s diction, and so on. That’s why I’m so eager to read The Slap and at the same time terrified that it won’t be “Australian” enough!

    The other thing was that, I was talking about this with a friend who lives in the American south, and she was just as offended as I am and posted it as a question on Google or Yahoo, you know those questions and people answer with advice etc? Well she actually had a reply from an American publisher who essentially – and defensively (the tone was angry even) – said that yes, they do think Americans are too stupid to be able to understand non-Americanisms etc. That’s what it comes down to – but they don’t see that they’re creating (or helping to create) a population that is so IGNORANT of anything beyond its borders! Not to mention how insulting it is to Americans, who really don’t deserve to be treated like imbeciles. I mean, we grew up with plenty of non-Australian telly and books, and we had no trouble learning that other countries had different words for things. So there are some things that we didn’t get, but we still got the GIST!! Oh it riles me up! Like you said, we know what THEY mean by “ranch”, isn’t it about time they learnt that we say STATION?! Are they really going to go “huh? a train station?”!

    But yeah, the bottom line is apparently US publishers DO think their American readers are too stupid, or don’t want to alienate them – but I think there’s also something to be said for creating a “sameness”, one that reinforces the US mentality… It doesn’t appeal to me either.


    Bree Reply:

    @Shannon, Wow, that is really, really sad… that they think a whole nation needs their novels Americanised so they can understand them! Context says a lot, and if someone is going home to their condo, I can guess for myself what that is, even if we don’t necessarily use the term in Australia. Or I can google if I really want a decent picture, because it’s a good chance to learn something new. I don’t want to read about Americans using Australian terms and slang anymore than I want to read about Australians using the American terms.

    Part of the fun of reading is that (for me) it lets you escape to a different place, whether that be a different country, different city, different time in history. To change the language so that it reflected current local terms would really take away from that experience for me. The same thing happens in movies – they adapt a novel from a different part of the world and Americanise the hell out of it, just so the US audience will want to go see it. A good example is making Becky American, instead of English in the movie of Confessions of a Shopaholic. There’s an extremely good NZ black comedy show named Outrageous Fortune and instead of just showing that in America, they chose to remake it with American humour, believing that Americans won’t get the NZ humour. I think that while some jokes/humour are location based, the fact is that there are equivalents all over the world. And people are smart enough to figure out who the show/book/movie is portraying. If the rest of the world is smart enough to get the jokes in American tv shows and movies, surely they are able to enjoy foreign films, movies and books? I’ll be very interested to see what they do with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in the Hollywood adaptation.

    I don’t have “real” friends who share my book obsession either! Most people think I’m a freak for always having my head in a book!


    Shannon Reply:

    @Bree, That’s exactly it – I wouldn’t want to read an American book where they talk like Australians, or spell like them, any more than I want to read Australians speaking like Americans!

    I hated how they made Becky American. And why? Is not Bridgit Jones a popular movie in America? (okay so the actor was American and she was perfect.) And don’t get me started on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo! What’s with this aversion to subtitles? and “weird foreign things”? Like, make it American and it’s no longer weird or foreign so that’s okay?!

    I haven’t seen Outrageous Fortune (sounds like something I’d love!) but I LOATHE the American The Office – they completely missed the point and it’s excruciating to watch, as well as boring and oh the fake doco-style camera work makes me sea-sick! I don’t get how it became so popular. Well I do but I don’t like it! Same with Kath and Kim – I didn’t watch the American version but I saw ads and honestly, the big question is: how can you transplant a show about suburban bogans to America when they don’t even have bogans?! The whole point, the whole humour around the characters, is completely redundant! Needless to say, I think it died. Oh and they did the same thing with Men Behaving Badly, can’t remember what they renamed it but it was pathetic.


  • If you ever get a chance to check out Outrageous Fortune, do! It’s very well done and an extremely enjoyable show. It’s just gone into its sixth and final season in NZ and I’ll miss it when it’s gone. It had Grant Bowler in it (you might remember him from Blue Heelers in the 90s, or maybe voicing over Border Security, lol although now he’s in things like Lost, True Blood and Ugly Betty overseas).

    I’m no fan of the American version of The Office either. They say that American’s just don’t “get” British humour, but I suppose they never will if they’re never exposed to it and amusing Brit shows are just remade with American actors and jokes. I never saw the American version of Men Behaving Badly, thank goodness! I can’t even imagine that!


    Shannon Reply:

    @Bree, Hey maybe you’ll know this one – I occasionally stumble across and Aussie tv show on one of the channels here (they’ve been playing a Sydney cop show called, ah, East Meets West or something along those lines; I’ve only seen bits – really I just like hearing the accents!) – anyway there’s a NZ show set in a high school, where one actor plays all the main roles including what I think is a transvestite student – does it ring any bells? It has that kind of subtle humour, not gags, more absurdity. We just come across it when we’re changing channels and I’m curious what it’s called.

    Ah, I never watched Blue Heelers – not my kind of show! I’d have to look up Grant Bowler: I’ve seen a few episodes of True Blood and Ugly Betty ….

    It’s very true, they don’t “get” British humour – I notice it with Adam actually, who grew up on North American shows like Saturday Night Live and Seinfeld – he’s a HUGE fan of the British Office and he loves Spaced which I also introduced him to, but he doesn’t like any of my other fave sitcoms like Black Adder, Black Books (actually, he doesn’t mind that one but he doesn’t get into like my family does), Father Ted etc. – I confess it really disappoints me. I’ve watched SNL skits because they have DVDs at the cottage, and I’ve watched Seinfeld because Adam has one season of it, and I don’t find it terribly funny or clever. It’s a more obvious style of humour and it tends to be LOUD! Rather like Bottom, do you remember that one?


  • It kind of sounds like you’re describing Summer Heights High…the same guy plays a teenage schoolgirl, a rather gay dance/drama teacher and a Tongan (I think) exchange student. If so, that’s Australian, it’s quite popular here with high school kids!

    I can’t believe I’ve finally found someone else who isn’t mad about Seinfeld! I actually go so far as to dislike it intensely and just about everyone thinks it’s the funniest show ever made. I can’t stand it, everyone on it just irritates me so much and I don’t know how they’re all friends when they’re all just such horrible people! I refuse to watch it, because it infuriates me, lol. I’m not really into shows like SNL either, maybe it’s because I was brought up on more English shows, my parents watched a lot of them when I was growing up.


    Shannon Reply:

    @Bree, Yes that’s it, why did I say NZ? I must’ve got confused when I was describing it! They have Australian accents…!

    Ugh, Seinfeld, it’s really not that funny. All they do is stand around stating the obvious really loudly. It irritates me, like a bad skin disease. I was brought up on British and Australian shows like you – we weren’t even allowed to watch commercial channels (which I’m eternally grateful for and didn’t miss – so what if I didn’t know how the characters on Different Strokes and Family Ties were? So what if I didn’t watch A Country Practice and Hey Hey it’s Saturday! I’m bloody grateful! It was just the ABC for us 😀 (in Tassie we only had the ABC and Southern Cross for most of my childhood – the latter got a mix of Channel 7 and Channel 10 shows; Hobart had the ABC and two commercial channels! Ooh weren’t they special!)


  • Oh god, that totally takes me back! When my grandparents first moved to their town, they only had the ABC and Channel 7. It’s actually how I started watching Home & Away…because when my brother and I were on holiday up there, it was that or the 7pm News on ABC and when you’re 8 years old, the news will lose every time! How things have changed.. now there’s the five standard channels – SBS, ABC, 7, 9, 10 and all the new HD channels, like 7TWO, Go!, OneHD, etc! And satellite/cable tv is everywhere… In 20 years I’ve gone from having 2 channels to watch to having well over 100. No wonder kids never go outside to play anymore, like we did as kids! They get home and stare at their 100 channels for the next 9 hours!


    Shannon Reply:

    @Bree, Jesus, all those channels? I love telling Canadians we only have five channels! Crap. TV is called “cable” here, or “cable TV” – I always wanted to know what that meant, and now I do and it’s really not exciting! (I hadn’t heard we have it too now.) We get something like 96 channels and I tell you, there’s never anything on! (Having so many channels, we watch less TV than ever!)

    Sometimes there’s good stuff on the Food channel, and Space is playing new Doctor Who all the way through, finally, and there’s the occasional show – but the ABC equivalent, CBC, isn’t as good: they play ads like commercial channels and try to have the same kind of programming, rather than carve out their own niche. They have some good Canadian comedies like The Rick Mercer Program, but most of the shows they do come out looking really tacky, like they’re all embarrassed of what they’re doing.

    I miss the ABC! SBS was great too. I miss all the new BBC adaptations – an American channel called PBS sometimes play them but I never know when they’re on and I hate how they buy the rights to play them and then take the credit for the shows!

    Wow we get nostalgic! Is it a sign of showing one’s age/getting old when you start reminiscing about the past? I swear I’ll do what my parents do: we weren’t allowed to turn the tv on before 5pm, when The Afternoon Show on the ABC played Inspector Gadget and other cool shows, then mum would watch Gardening Australia at 6, we’d watch the ABC News at 7 and maybe there’d be something on at 8. But I love the no-tv-during-the-day rule, and it forced us to go outside and play.


  • My parents got satellite TV in 1998 when I was in year 11. In those days it was pretty much ad free and that was actually the privilege we were supposed to be paying for! And it was all ‘new’ where the shows they were playing might’ve been from the old days, but it was the first time you’d seen them in years! So it was kind of good then. When I went to University and then lived in share houses I never had it but my fiancé had it before I moved in with him and now it’s about the same amount of ads as on the commercial channels! And everything is pretty much repeated 100x a month. Seinfeld is on 3x a day every night of the week, stuff like that. Sometimes it’s good, because Australian commercial TV is so lazy (they prefer game shows and reality tv and it’s hideous) and we watch stuff like the Food Channel, Nat Geo, the Crime channel, etc. There’s a couple of Australian drama shows which are only shown on pay-tv, one is starting this month which I’m interested to watch but really, if my fiancé didn’t need it for his work (he works in sports media) I probably wouldn’t miss it too much.

    Sometimes I totally feel I’m slipping into that “Back in my day!” frame of mind…. We just moved into this lovely new area with this totally amazing park that we take our little boy to and there is NEVER anyone else there. Where are all the kids? If I’d had a playground like that when I was little, I’d have never left! It’s all Wii and PS3 and internet from before kindergarten! And everyone has 3+ TV’s in their houses now. We had 1 and my brother and I weren’t just able to go watch what we wanted. Mostly we got bored of TV and couldn’t wait to get outside.


    Shannon Reply:

    @Bree, It’s sounds bleak. And the image of an empty playground is … depressing. I guess we’re the newest generation to be in the midst of a change, and we don’t like what we see.

    My first aid trainer was telling us a story last week about her daughter – they had rented a cheap second car for a trip and her husband gave the daughter (16 yo) the keys to go and start it; she stood outside the car for about 20 minutes before giving up, came back inside and told her dad she couldn’t get the car to open, it must be broken. She was pressing the key and nothing happened. He had to tell her, no, you put the key in the lock. She asks, What lock? The one in the door. You put it in and turn it.

    Then when they were in the car she couldn’t find the button to open the window. Use the lever, they told her. What do I do with it? she asks. You have to wind it! There’s a serious problem when today’s teenagers don’t know how to unlock a car or wind a window down! “Press of a button” convenience is kinda scary when you think about it.


  • Wow! I kinda don’t know what to say about that! I’m gobsmacked! I think my parents have only had 2 cars with the keyless entry thing and when they got the first one, it also had an alarm button and my mother set off the alarm in many a supermarket carpark!

    The empty park is very sad…we were there again yesterday morning and there was no one in sight! It really is amazing – 2 sets of swings, 3 slides, climbing ropes, monkey bars, see-saw’s, flying foxes, wooden ‘castles’ to climb on and bridges to run over! When I was young, we were lucky if we got 1 infant swing and 1 child swing, and maybe a cubby-house type thing with a slide on it! It’s the same with the recreation club – it has a semi-gym and 2 tennis courts and they’re always like a graveyard. I can’t wait until we get our resident’s passes and the weather warms up a bit! I hope to show Hunter that playing outdoors can be lots of fun – although one of my relative’s did buy him a kiddie laptop for his 2nd birthday! So I have technology to compete with already!


    Shannon Reply:

    @Bree, A kiddie laptop!! I shouldn’t be so surprised I know, but HUH! Didn’t see that one coming! I didn’t get to use a computer until grade 7!


  • It’s not a real one, it’s a Thomas the Tank Engine little laptop toy that just has games and activities on it. It just looks pretty much like a real, small laptop, but with a Thomas face on the cover. It has a mouse and the keyboard and everything. He can’t use it much atm as it’s for ages 3-6 and it’s a bit old for him, but he just likes sitting beside me when I’m on my laptop, copying everything I do!


    Shannon Reply:

    @Bree, That’s so cute! My brother (five years younger than me) loved Thomas – my mum does too, she’s a real train fan!


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