Review of Kissed by Darkness by Shéa MacLeod

There are some books I love to tell everyone about and others that I’m not so pleased by.  Unfortunately, this one falls into the latter category, but I wouldn’t say everyone should rule the book out.  It does have a lot to recommend it.  I’m just a bit more picky about my heroines than I realized.  This is one of the rare times the main character brought down an otherwise excellent story.  I debated heavily as to whether the book would get two or three stars, before settling on three.  The review doesn’t contain every complaint I had, but hits some of the highlights.

One thing I will say is that my qualms will not be everyone else’s.  You have to decide for yourself if the things that bothered me would be a problem for you as well.  If they aren’t, then you might want to give the novel a chance because the rest of it is quite good.  Plus that cover looks great!  Anyway, this is the review I posted on Amazon which should hopefully show up in the near future if they don’t gig me for saying “badass”.  It couldn’t be helped since the character insisted on using that phrase numerous times to describe herself.  If it doesn’t go through, I may have to edit it out, but here on my blog you all get the full version!


Morgan Bailey is a bounty hunter who kills vampires and demons for a living.  She has gotten quite good at it over the years and feels confident there isn’t a job she can’t complete.  Now she is up for the greatest challenge in her career yet.  Hunting down a mythical sunwalker and finding an ancient amulet he purportedly has in his possession.  Morgan is used to dealing with regular vamps that can’t go out in sunlight, but this one will be a bit trickier for her to track, not to mention kill.  She doesn’t let the details get in the way of her job, though.  It simply means it will be more challenging than usual.  What she doesn’t realize is there is a lot more going on than originally anticipated and as old, dark secrets are revealed, she may learn some things about herself that she didn’t know.

Kissed by Darkness is the first novel in the Sunwalker Saga.  While it may have been written by a new author to the Urban Fantasy genre, there is much to recommend it.  It starts off with a bang, introducing key characters and giving the reader a good idea of what the world they have entered.  Most humans are unaware of the supernatural elements around them and there are those (human or otherwise) who work in secret to keep it that way.  This novel is not light reading.  It certainly has dark and bloody elements that make the story fit right into the genre it was written for.   A lot of questions are brought up early on, some answered by the end, and others left for later novels to deal with.  All around, the plot and world building were in-depth and fascinating.

There is a colorful cast of characters as well.  Kabita is the woman who runs the private investigation firm Morgan works out of.  She is cool, calm, and collected.  The perfect foil for her subordinate, who is the complete opposite.   Then there is Inigo Jones, Kabita’s cousin, who is a clairvoyant that helps out on jobs when needed.  Though he appears to only be twenty years old, his abilities and talents, as well as good looks, make Morgan lust after him in ways she knows she shouldn’t.   There are other characters introduced as the story plays out as well who hold vital importance.  It all makes for an intense and suspenseful story.

The one thing that held me back from truly enjoying this novel is the main character, Morgan.  While I liked all the others in the story, her personality and attitude didn’t work for me.  Now, I have no problem with most snarky, confident, tough female heroines- Cat, from Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, is one of my favorites.   Yet Morgan rubbed me the wrong way.  She is supposed to be a twenty-nine year old vampire hunter with years of experience under her belt.  I expected a certain level of maturity from her.  Yet she constantly bragged about how tough she was, how much she enjoyed killing things, how great her breasts looked, and how scared everyone was of her.  In much of this, showing instead of telling might have alleviated some of my concerns.  Instead, the reader has to listen to how great of a badass vampire hunter she is (yes, in those words, multiple times).  Not only this, but she has major hormonal issues throughout, practically jumping all over several guys because she can’t control her libido.  There is probably an explanation for this that was not given in book one, but it reaches the point of being extremely annoying.  Mac, in the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, has some libido problems around Fae princes, but she acted far more mature about it than Morgan does in this book.  I simply couldn’t get past this character’s behavior to fully enjoy the story being told.  It made for a difficult read when it shouldn’t have been.

Having said all these things, I don’t think this is a bad book.  There is a lot to recommend it and most likely the series does continue to get better.  It just isn’t one I can keep up with due to my reservations about Morgan.  Clearly there are others that didn’t have the issues I did, based on the reviews I read prior to buying the novel.  If the traits I mentioned about Morgan’s personality don’t bother you, this might be a book worth checking out.  I just want to warn those that may have preferences closer to my own.  Otherwise, feel free to check it out and make your own call on whether this series is one to follow.

Three whips for this one.


~ by Suzie on December 12, 2011.

14 Responses to “Review of Kissed by Darkness by Shéa MacLeod”

  1. Update- The review just made it through the Amazon filters so I guess I got away with the naughty word!

  2. Now that I study fiction writing and read a lot, I’ve found one of the few things that instantly turns me off a new novel. Thank you for your honest review, because when I see Telling, Not Showing, I scream, ‘eek!’ in my head and close the page. I’m not saying I haven’t told something when I should have shown it in my own WIP novel, but I try to edit it out if I catch anything lurking around like that in subsequent drafts.

    Vikki Wakefield, is one of the authors I look up to after reading her début novel, ‘All I Ever Wanted’. I just got the chance to interview her yesterday and she had such helpful insight into writing and publishing as well as providing an awesome interview. (P.S. here’s the link:

    I like my vampires so thanks for your review!

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting! It is annoying when an author tells too much and doesn’t show enough. Does the character in this book go around kicking butt? Yes, but do I need the constant narrative of her saying what a kickass vampire hunter she is and how awesome she is? No, I don’t. That was what got to me. The character spent much of the book talking about how great she was. Show me by actions and leave the constant bragging out of it. That was where the author messed up. I had to put the book down several times because of this and it took a month to finish. She said in her acknowledgements that she had critique partners so no idea if they pointed out this problem or if they just liked a female character who bragged a lot. Still, I felt the readers needed to be warned because the other nineteen reviews didn’t mention this problem.

      I read and review a lot of vampire books so you can feel confident that there will be more in the future on this blog. It was nice stopping by your site. Glad you pointed it out to me 🙂

      • The thing is, I always wonder if these types of critique partners involve a) mum, b) boyfriend, and c) niece. And then I wonder if any of them read more than 2 novels a year. Hm.

        Reviewers need to be helpful but ALSO truthful. You’re spot on!

        Thanks for visiting my blog (and the Twitter add). Feel free to suggest anything you want to see me post more on.

        • I have to wonder that myself about the critique partners. There are family and friends who could do the job, but only if they are really honest. With my family, I can’t get them to read anything I write so it has to be other people! You are right that it has to be people who read a lot. It makes for a much more discerning critique partner.

          Thanks for following me as well. If I think of any ideas, I’ll let you know!

  3. I don’t know if commenting on this blog is worth my time but I’ll give it a shot. This was a humorous novel. The ‘badass’ comments were what we in the writing world refer to as ‘sarcasm’. It was also told in Morgan’s POV, so while reading this novel, please expect to actually listen to her internal thoughts.

    Just last night I asked my second grade cousin, my dog, and my neighbor’s cat to read Kissed by Darkness and they all agree that it’s got plenty of showing and loads of sarcasm. They are my beta readers as well, so I totally trust their judgement over yours.

    • PJ, I try to be as honest as possible in my reviews as to how I felt about a novel. There will never be a book that 100 percent of all readers like. Take a look at the top ten New York Times best sellers right now and you will find they even have multiple one star reviews (considerably lower than what I gave to this story). Yet they may be selling millions of copies because some people felt differently. This is because reading is subjective to each person’s individual tastes. I seriously doubt you have liked every single book you read. As for me, the level of sarcasm and its delivery in this novel were not to my taste. Does that mean others won’t appreciate it? Of course, not. I’m sure there will be those who love it. Yet my review should be based on how I felt, not how others may feel. Every person has a right to their own opinion, whether you agree with it or not.

  4. PJ Jones,
    Some advice. You are lucky to have an honest and mostly positive review of your book published. Why stoop to insult the reviewer who has merely expressed her opinion? Take a deep breath and accept comments as being potentially helpful. I am sure that your second grade cousin (I never knew cousins came in grades), your cat, and your dog would, if you had taken the time to ask them, agree with me.

  5. First off, I did not write this book. Second, I have no issue with a reviewer giving an honest review, but this reviewer went too far, striking below the belt with speculation. I am referring to the comments made by Novel Girl, and then the reviewer agreeing with the suggestion that Shea MacLeod’s mum or boyfriend were her critique partners. Is this true? Did you ask the author if her mum and boyfriend were her critique partners? If you dislike a book, state why and move on. No need to personally attack the author. No, my dog may not be my beta reader, but my dog certainly has better manners.

    • The only speculation I had given was wondering if the problem I saw was noticed by the critique partners. Not every author will take all the advice given by those people who read their drafts, so it was meant to say that they might have noted it for this book but I couldn’t know for sure. For the rest, I was talking about critique partners in general and believed Novel Girl was doing the same. In fact, I went so far as to say that even family could critique a novel so long as they were well read and honest, so it wouldn’t matter to me who the author used so long as they did their job. At that point, though, I had been speaking of authors in general, not Shea MacLeod. I’m sorry you misinterpreted the conversation in a way I had certainly not intended for it to be understood.

    • Pj Jones, I am so sorry that you are sensitive to honest comments. No where in my review did I “strike below the belt”. I was referring to novels — in general — that Tell the reader what’s going on over Showing. So many other readers also prefer the latter aspect in writing. If you find it rude for people to say that family are critique partners, well, there isn’t anything I can say that you are going to understand. But since the general reader population doesn’t prefer to be told “believe this” over showing that idea, I wrote the particular comments in question about critique partners who don’t read or study fiction writing because so many people believe this type of thing is okay.

      I don’t know this author personally, thus I have not have any type of contact with her. These are MY views. For the record, I have moved on, but you keep commenting back, stating how you are hating the rest of our PERSONAL opinions — I have moved on. I am so happy to hear you have a lovely dog, too.

      Please read more carefully in the future, though I understand sometime people skim over comments without really understanding. Oh, and if you are going to have first stab at talking down to someone, please — oh, please — know exactly what they’re saying. Ta.

  6. I love your reviews and would be delighted if you would consider reviewing my novel, Proof of God: The Metaphysical Detective (on Kindle).

  7. […] the attacks have become so common.  I know this myself because I was attacked on this blog for a three star review by the author’s friend (also an author) and it was not even all that critical.  They also […]

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