Book Review: Shadow of Time by Jen Minkman

16166400Title: Shadow of Time

Author: Jen Minkman

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4 stars

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

All Hannah needs is a nice and quiet vacation after her first year of teaching French at a high school. She joins her brother Ben for the summer in their mom’s log cabin in Arizona. There, she meets Josh again, Ben’s childhood friend from the Navajo reservation. The little boy from the rez has grown up fast, and Hannah can’t help but feeling more for him than just friendship.

But fate apparently has something else in store for her. And it’s not peace and quiet. Night after night, Hannah is plagued by strange nightmares about the past of Navajo Nation and terrifying shadows chasing her. They seem to come closer – and why is Josh always present in her dreams?

Sometimes, the past has a way of catching up with you.

As an avid reader of paranormal romance, I sometimes think I’ve seen it all. I’ve read numerous books on angels, demons, shapeshifters, vampires, and the rest of them. Even if the plot is original, it’s always the same paranormal creatures making an appearance.

Then, every once in a while, something else comes up. Something unique and original, and about ten times as enjoyable as the generic paranormal romance books. Shadow of Time is one of these unique books with an original concept that tries something completely different, and, in this case, succeeds.

Hannah is twenty-three years old. After working a stressy job for a year, she’s ready to retire for the summer to her mom’s log cabin in Arizona. She spent most of her childhood there, communicating with the Najavo community nearby, and hanging out with her little brother Ben and his best friend Josh. But when she comes back this time around, she realizes Josh has turned into an adult, and a handsome one at that. She doesn’t recognize him at first, but he sure does recognize her. Unfortunately growing up isn’t the only thing that happened to Josh. He’s changed, and his mood vary from light and humorous to dark and unpredictable in a matter of moments. Hannah’s best friend Emily warns her that something happened to Josh when he made the spiritual journey from youth to adulthood, and that has changed him.

Even though Josh gives mixed hot and cold gestures, Hannah finds herself falling for him. But then, she starts having creepy nightmares featuring Josh, in a setting several hundred years ago. She wonders what it all means, and if somehow her nightmares could be real. Then a terrifying treat finds Hannah in the supposedly secure village, and she realizes she may be in more trouble than she thought possible.

I liked Hannah. As far as protagonists go, she was a pretty decent one. With paranormal romance, you either get the whiny, can’t-do-anything-herself damsel in distress (think Bella Swan) or the kick-ass feminist heroine who needs no help from anyone (think Xena, Warrior Princess). But Hannah holds the middle between those. She’s certainly not a brave, demon-slaying hero, but she’s not a scared chicken either. She actually felt like a regular human being, who found herself in a situation she had no control over and that was so strange she could barely comprehend it. So, at first glance I liked her. There were some moments when I wanted to strangle her because she was a bit stubborn to realize the truth, even if it was standing right in front of her, but I could easily forgive her for that. We all have those moments, I guess. In retrospect, it made her seem more like a regular human and less like a book character that she had these kind of flaws.

Josh was all right as well. He was Mr. Mysterious all right, especially in the beginning, but the mystery is what kept me on the edge of my seat, so I can’t complain about that. I wanted to find out what was happening to him, and why he went from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde on several occassions. His personality was well-developed, and there were no inconsistencies in his personality, which is quite a feat to write when your character suffers from hot and cold syndrom.

But my favorite character is, hands down, Ben. We don’t often see supportive siblings who love each other and want to help each other in literature, and I was glad to see Ben belonged to this rare category. I simply loved his interactions, both with his sister Hannah and his best friend Josh. He’s the kind of person I wouldn’t mind being friends with.

The romance was great. Mainly because it didn’t just happen within the first fifty-so pages. There was an actual build up, plus it’s not like Josh and Hannah didn’t know each other before they fell in love. They had a long history, and that’s my favorite kind of romance. There was actual depth and feeling there. And there was awkwardness, and not knowing how to behave, and all those typical things you get when you first fall in love.

But the true strength of this work, in my opinion, is the story. It focuses heavily on Navajo culture, and it’s obvious the author did a lot of research before she started this book. She gives the reader a lot of details about Navajo rituals, spells and traditions. Sometimes I feel too much explanation slows the story down, but that wasn’t the case here. If anything, it added to the story. I liked the “bad guys”, skinwalkers, mentioned in this book. They were actually pretty creepy, which is saying a lot, coming from someone who devours creepy stories on a daily base. I loved the lore behind them as well, and they’re origin in Navajo culture.

The plot itself started out slow, but then build up as the story progressed. I had trouble getting into the story at first, but after fifty-something pages, I was hooked. My only let down is the ending, which felt a bit rushed. I liked it, but it felt like the author wanted to tie everything together a bit too fast.

I would recommend this novel to everyone who enjoys paranormal romance and is looking for something different. With a solid story, enjoyable characters and a detailed look on Navajo culture, Shadow of Time is a great read.

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