Shade Fright by Sean Cummings
Valerie Stevens Series, Book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Published: 3/1/2010 by Snowbooks
Received From: Author - eArc format
"I fell into this job quite by accident, when I discovered that I possessed the ability to see the preternatural world. There are a handful of people with similar abilities, and part of my job is to locate them, since Government Services and Infrastructure Canada likes to keep track of these things. Don't ask me why."
There's a malevolent force in town, and it's quite literally Valerie Stevens' job to determine who's behind it and why they want to destroy the world, starting with Calgary.
She'll have help, in the form of her best friend (now more or less a zombie, unfortunately), a powerful dwarf troll, and the ghost of former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (but he goes by 'Bill' these days). But that's not all - Valerie has some tricks up her sleeve and, she hopes, luck on her side. Oh, and her boyfriend, Dave. He drives a dump truck.
Valerie Stevens works for the Government Services and Infrastructure of Canada. Her job description isn't one that you'll see written anywhere because her job is to collect supernatural commodities for government profit and act as a broker with supernatural beings, so the preternatural world stays unknown to the population at large. It's Valerie's supernatural abilities that help her in the everyday responsibility of her job as a civil servant but those in the preternatural world would call Valerie a sorceress, Valerie prefers to be called an alchemist.
A mysterious and very evil presence has made itself and its deadly intentions on the city of Calgary known to Valerie. Now Valerie has to race to find a way to stop the evilest presence she has ever encountered but she's not alone in this deathly race. Valerie has an eclectic cast of friends to help her fight this ultimate evil. There's Valerie’s buddy Caroline who's a wise-cracking zombie, the eccentric uptight ghost of the former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (who Valerie has dubbed Fifty-Dollar Bill, since his picture is on the Canadian $50 bill), an exceptionally gifted mage who's a two thousand year old dwarf troll plus a satchel full of tricks.
Shade Fright was an interesting and different take on the world of the supernatural, steeped in the history of Canada and a nice mixture of different folklore, told from Valerie's point of view. I found it to be enjoyable for the most part but a few parts in the story lost my attention when too much detail for my taste went into the political subterfuge of the supernatural world.
Valerie proves to be a strong and self-reliant heroine, the type I can appreciate because she doesn’t ask anyone to do or sacrifice more than she is willing to herself. The secondary characters help give the story an air of variety. Caroline was one of those characters. I just loved Caroline’s attitude and her dry sense of humor. I also thought that it was interesting that Valerie’s boyfriend Dave played more of a support role. A sort of role reversal between a man and woman. Dave offers Valerie the steadfast companionship of a man whose comfortable with himself. He also loves the opera, cooks gourmet meals, drives a dump truck and he sports a gunslinger's mustache. What a combination!
The overall story arc in Shade Fright was well written and interesting enough that it kept me reading plus there are a couple of subplots that could play out into more books, that I would be most interested in reading.
Valerie Stevens Series:
- Shade Fright
- Funeral Pallor – July 2010