Friday, October 18, 2013

Mini Review: Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer

Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Tor 
Pages: 336
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Oh man, I was SO looking forward to this book! There's ghosts and a murder mystery all wrapped up in historical fantasy setting, what could go wrong?

Apparently a bland main character. And a meh romance. And a mushy historical setting (it's early 1900s WWI era but felt more like post-war 1950s Dragnet). But mostly a bland main character. Who did NOTHING with her cool ghost seeing powers (and you know how much I dislike characters who squander their nifty powers).

Delia was nice but I seriously need something more than that to keep my attention. She was just so bland. And to make matters worse her love interest is super in love with her and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what he saw in her.

But oh boy did he see a lot in her. Half the book is told through his third person perspective (alternating with Delia's even more distant first person chapters) and he spends about half of that time telling us how swell he thinks Delia is and how he's totally forgetting about his dead wife and kid after a DECADE of paralyzing mourning.

Which brings me to a personal pet peeve: the dead wife. Maybe I'm just jealous to a fault or overly possessive or I never adequately learned how to share my toys, but I don't like it when my leading lady needs to share the romantic spotlight with the specter of a dead wife. So, personal points off for that.

(And, because Delia can see ghosts, lucky her, she gets to see his dead wife hovering around him. Talk about a swoon killer!)

Although, speaking of talking, Delia's ghosts can't talk to her. Or she can't hear them? I'm not really sure how that worked, but either way it was a contrived mystery stretcher because the girl could have whipped out a ouija board or scribbled down an alphabet or something in order to communicate with her irritatingly ever-present-but-useless ghost that kept following her around.

I mean, if I had a ghost following me, I'd figure out a way to chat. Especially if she was trying to tell me the identity of her killer. A killer who, I might add, just happens to be after Delia now. So, yeah, it was a little frustrating to watch her do absolutely nothing inventive to try to Nancy Drew herself out of this potentially bad situation. 

But, whatever. The rest of the characters were better than Delia and I enjoyed following them around. I liked Gabe's sections a lot better. He's a sexy cop who is a protective family man and made me swoon (albeit a milder swoon because I really wasn't into this romance).

The mystery was also engaging, though it was the kind where the reader has not chance at all of figuring out whodunit because there's just too much information we aren't privy to until it's already revealed. That's not my favorite kind (I like to be able to guess) but this one kept me on my toes enough and definitely delivered in the gore factor, so I was into it.

Bottom line

It was ok. I didn't really click with Delia and the ghost part seemed more gimmicky than an actual asset that would advance the plot. I read it to the end and I did like it, but I feel no need to own this book.

So why three stars and not less? Mostly because it's not a BAD book. It's a nice story. If you're looking for something mild and lite to pass the time between hangover-inducing books, Delia's Shadow is a nice choice. 

I'd say it could appeal to cozy mystery fans because of the sappy character dramas, but the gore was a little more vivid than I'm used to seeing in lite cozy mysteries. (There was also a totally needless death that just annoys me). It's fine for YA readers even though the main characters are adults.

This is a standalone.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Delia's Shadow that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!


  1. Oy, it breaks my heart to hear that! I was so looking forward to this book, too. I mean, just look at that gorgeous cover!!! *_* And I love ghost stories, especially set against historical backdrop! But yes, I do hate when the characters are bland, they can quickly turn a great story into a boring one, so I'd probably feel the same about this book. Well, I'm glad I found out before picking it up! Thanks for the heads up! :)

    Evie @Bookish

    1. I know!!! The cover totally sucked me in, too. Her outfit is to die for. :(

  2. Just goes to show that one can not (or rather should not) be wooed by an amazing cover! :(

  3. I really love the cover for this but I was not expecting the paranormal aspect-I would prefer just a straight historical with a bit of a love story.

    1. I think this would have been greatly improved had it stuck to being a straight historical.

  4. Have you encountered The Native Star and The Hidden Goddess, by MK Hobson? It's steampunk rather than historical paranormal mystery, but for some reason this review reminded me of it. I think you'd like the romance in it better.

    1. I haven't read them yet, but I've been searching everywhere for The Native Star! Mostly because what I've heard about the romance. None of the many libraries or used bookstores I've had access to have carried it. Someday I'll get my hands on a copy.

  5. I think I dropped out of this one when Delia and Gabe first met, and judging from what you've said, I made the right choice. It would have driven me nuts to see Gabe fall in insta-love with Delia. I thought his mooning over his dead wife and child was annoying, but it would have been worse to have him flip flop right away.

    1. yeah, you dropped out at the right time. I don't think I would have missed anything if I had DNF-ed.

  6. Oh no! Your first paragraph was SO enticing, and then I read "bland character" and then I read "meh romance" and then I read "mush historical..." I LOVE that you have coined MUSHY because I know what you mean by it, though. Heh.

    I'm sorry you were disappointed in this. But grateful to have read your review so I don't have to waste my time. ;)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. LOL! I'm glad you understood my historical description :P

  7. Sorry to hear that you were disappointed! I find useless heroines annoying too, so staying clear of this one.


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