Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Joanna Archer lives behind the lens of her camera. After an attack when she was 15 years old, leaving her brutally assaulted and nearly dead, Joanna was determined not to become another victim. She started taking fighting lessons and now patrols the streets of Las Vegas at night always on the lookout for retribution. On the eve of her 25th birthday, she’s given a cryptic message by a bum to “make sure you survive.” What Joanna doesn’t yet know is the Shadows have been hunting her for a long time, and now she has to make the decision whether she’s on the side of Light or the side of Shadows.
Just based on the back cover blurb I really wasn’t expecting this book at all, but I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, indeed, The Scent of Shadows is a book about superheroes that embody the 12 signs of the zodiac, complete with their own comic books and trading cards. I liked the interesting spin Pettersson put on this genre, although at times it felt like it was too much. Joanna gets a lot thrown at her in a seemingly short amount of time so in conjunction the readers get the same.
A lot happens from the beginning of the book all the way to the end, probably the biggest storyline we have to follow is Joanna reconciling the identity that she’s had since her attack with her identity before the attack as well as with the new superhero one created for her. It sounds complicated and it pretty much is. In order to function well in her new role Joanna must decide what it will be. Joanna does a lot of ruminating on this subject throughout the book.
Along the way we meet the other members of Zodiac Troop 175, Agents of Light (a.k.a. the good guys). The past few months have been hard on them with quite a few of their agents having been killed off by the Shadows (aka the bad guys). The Shadows are the polar opposites of the Light. So where there is a light Aries, there is also a shadow Aries. Joanna’s being part of the group has been prophesized and there are a lot of misconceptions about who she is as a superhero/person and who she will be. She has some decisions to make. Joanna is what is known as the Kairos, she is born both of the Shadow and the Light. Her path is not set either way, so she needs to decide where her loyalties lie. She has a lot to prove to this group, and they are not as welcoming of their prophecy as one would expect. With the threat of a traitor among the troop, everyone looks upon each other with distrust.
There is romance in the book and there’s potential for romance in the future. But again it all falls within the realm of Joanna’s past and future and if she’s able to fully leave her past behind for the common good. Pettersson does a wonderful job of setting up where the story arc will lead, and by the end you can already guess what the final showdown will be. She leaves a lot of things unanswered, but it’s not frustrating. The main mystery is solved in the end. The tidbits that remain only make me want to read on to find out what happens next. Luckily, at six books this series is complete. There will be no waiting!
Sexual content: Sex, references to rape