Review: Shadow Guard by Diane Whiteside

Format: Trade paperback
Length:  242 pages
Publisher: Brava (Kensington)
Pub Date: April 2011
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

An intriguing premise is ruined by amateurish writing and vague world-building in this paranormal romantic suspense.

I was looking forward to reading this book, despite that awful cover. The blend of magic and police work intrigued me. But what killed this book for me was the writing. More specifically, the over use of similes.

I'm not sure who edited this, but it's downright criminal to let so many slip past. Sometimes, there were 3 or more PER PAGE. I'm not saying don't use them, but use them sparingly!!  (A simile is the use of like or as when describing something.) I am honest about my horrible grammar lapses, but when the writing kicks me out of a story because someone is too fond of a word, phrase or style, there's a problem.

A few choice ones (trust me, there are plenty more where these came from):

(The very first sentence)
Snow coiled like serpents through the trees' barren branches
[...] like dolphins riding the current.
Something shimmered under its surface, like a network of stars.
[...] his jaw clenched tight as that of a prison guard standing watch over dangerous inmates.

And those are just the most obvious ones in the first 26 pages.

My other main complaint: the world building was a little too sparse. I understand not wanting to bog down a story with too much detail, but I struggled to understand the way this world worked. We don't get any real detail until midway through the book, but by then, I didn't care to learn more about the world.

The book is also a bit choppy, but that could be partly my fault, as I kept putting the book down to bang my head against the wall when another "like" or "as" popped up. I know I'm harping, but I can't recall a worse case of this. Ever. 

The characters were interesting, the premise good. But I just couldn't get past the vague nature of the world and the abuse of the poor simile. For someone not as picky about word usage or content with vague paranormal detail, this might not be so bad.

My Grade: D


  1. Yeah, that cover is terrible. Too bad the content matched the cover!

  2. That sounds like serious abuse of similes! It reminds me of the experience I had reading "To Sin with a Scoundrel" which was in all other ways good but spoiled for me by the overuse of alliterations. Only it sounds like this one had more weaknesses than just the style.

  3. @Diana,

    Yeah, it was a bit cheesy. *sigh*


    Really good writing is so good you can't point to what makes it so awesome. This read like the author was trying too hard to write pretty sentences. I'd much rather boring sentences to that torture!