Read The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson Online


When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert. By rights, she should be dead.Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset—a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow—seeking answers to whom or what she really is . . . and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.But the nightmare iWhen she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert. By rights, she should be dead.Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset—a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow—seeking answers to whom or what she really is . . . and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.But the nightmare is just beginning—for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful shadows want her for their own . . ....

Title : The Scent of Shadows
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780061736711
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 383 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Scent of Shadows Reviews

  • Seth
    2019-03-30 07:12

    It looks good. New author, first novel, recommendations on the cover by Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, and Diana Gabaldon(2). Woman becomes a Super-Powered Heroine fighting forces of darkness and it's supposed to have non-stop action, some hot sex scenes, and it's set in Las Vegas, always a great setting for supernatural action. But look more closely. The back cover has a big, glossy picture of the author: an atractive brunette with a decidedly Linda Carter look. Large pictures of the attractive author on the back are always a warning sign(3). Then read the bio: ten years as a Folies dancer at the Tropicana. Could be good, she probably knows Las Vegas well. Good and bad. Nice setup. Let's take a look inside....This book is firmly in that unnamed subgenre where Harrison and Harris live: female POV modern supernatural fantasy/mystery/action with a promise of sexual tension. It's a fun subgenre. Unfortunately, this one falls into the most cop-out of traps in the female POV world, that a woman can only become a strong heroine if she was raped. Of course, she is the one raped because she fights the attacker to save her younger sister. And, of course, she goes from raped to vengeful to trained and effective. It's cheap writing and it cheapens (and demeans) rape victims, implying that they should use assault as a strengthening experience and not feel traumatized. Fortunately, it only shows up in 90% of heroine stories written by men and 89% written by women(4) :-( The main character is basically ok. Joanna Archer, daughter of mega-wealthy father Xavier (uncommon names like that always indicate villains), whom she despises and who despises her. Her younger sister (the not-raped and therefore not-heroic one), Olivia, lives the life of a beautiful and mega-wealthy socialite, and we mustn't forget her being a Playboy Playmate a few months ago. Joanna spends her days practicing martial arts and her nights wandering the dangerous streets of Las Vegas, taking pictures for her occasional art exhibits and hoping for a chance to beat up a mugger or two. So, let's fast-forward to/through the plot.Joanna Archer has a rule: she never says no to a first date. It's a stupid rule and it only serves to set up the first scene (and is never mentioned thereafter), but it's billed as her reclaiming her sexuality after the rape by proving she isn't afraid to date(6). So we find her on a date with a repulsive man who turns out to be a homicidal supernatural killer. Joanna gets away from him with the help of a police group that has been following him, led by her old high school boyfriend, who will play a recurring but meaningless role in the book. The next day is the day before her 25th birthday. Which doesn't seem all that important, but boy-howdy is it. She and her sister visit Daddy, who reveals that he has evidence--a one-line, unsigned letter--indicating that Joanna is not his daughter. Her sister takes Joanna's side but Daddy cuts her out of the will anyway.Being a close relative who doesn't hate a heroine-to-be is rarely a good idea. Let's start a clock ticking on her death right about now, why don't we? We'll need a stopwatch, not a calendar.Fast-forward to that night through a couple of things: hot date with the ex-boyfriend, seeing the same bum repeatedly, hitting the bum with her car, watching his bones heal almost instantly, dire warnings from the bum that indicate he'll help her, but he can't until she's 25--ie, several hours later. Assuming she lives those several hours. She goes to her (ex?)boyfriend's house for some hot sex told in a not-hot and overlong manner(8), then back to her sister's. Her sister Olivia, we learn, is some sort of super-hacker called (of course) The Archer. While she does some snooping on the (ex?)boyfriend for Joanna she gets a call from an ex-boyfriend who wants some stuff(9) back--at 11:45 at night. She agrees. Hecontrives to stick around until midnight. Midnight comes around and Joanna turns 25(10) and immediately gets hit with something like the Highlander effect. She's basically useless; he attacks; her "reflexes" from training(11) kick in and she buries a knife in his chest. Olivia and Joanna sit down (next to his dead body) and relax, as you do when you just killed someone and his corpse is still bleeding out on your wall-to-wall. He (of course) gets up, throws Olivia out the (penthouse) window, and attacks. Obvious what happens next, but let's list it: Joanna beats him up, takes his own knife(12), cuts off his hands, and slits his tongue open(13) so he drowns in his own blood(14). You know, the usual heroine stuff. After a brief and strange fight scene the bum explains that he is an Agent of Light and both the date-guy and the guy she killed were Agents of Dark. Joanna, being 25 now, has some sort of super-powers (they don't know what yet) and is capable of being an agent of either. Because, Ta-Da, she is the Fated One Who Will... do something. They aren't really sure what, but she has the powers of both Shadow and Light(15). It's the usual you're-better-than-everyone-else-but-untrained-and-untrustworthy business. Superpowers are matrilineal; her mother was another Agent of Light who seduced the head Agent of Dark--a supernatural being of pure thought, yet still able to knock uglies and inseminate--and then went into hiding after giving birth to protect Joanna--by not being there to protect her. Today is her mother's birthday, increasing her power, and it's her father's birthday, too(16), so she gets a lot of his power as well. Whether his having a daughter post haste would remove some of her powers is left unsaid, but it sounds like something he should look into. So the Agents of Light (the good guys, remember) do the obvious thing. They knock her unconscious and--without her permission--give her plastic surgery to look exactly like her sister and make Olivia's body look like hers before it's buried so everyone thinks Joanna's dead instead of Olivia. She is ordered back into Olivia's life to spy on Daddy. So here's the book: Martial artist/playmate with super powers and the heir to a mega-fortune works with 11 other super beings (one for each star sign, although actually 5 of the good guys are dead at the moment) to fight the machinations of 12 bad guys (one for each sign and with related abilities to their counterparts). The "manual" for the super teams is a comic book series. She's the only one who can read both sides, of course (this actually makes sense to me). There are also trading cards of the agents(19). If we didn't have the Linda Carter-esque picture on the back I'd be certain this was plotted by a high school boy hoping it makes him famous enough to get his first kiss. 'Natch, the rapist is one of the Shadows(18). The good guys keep doing things this way. They tell her what to do. She complains. They tell her again. She does it. She complains, but she's incapable of *doing* anything on her own initiative. And that's seen as a good thing. This is my main complaint with the book. I get really sick of a heroine who bitches about something that really is wrong, doesn't do anything, and never grows out of it. The book leads through the inevitable plot stages: the super base, the alpha-female bitch-fight, the alpha-male bitch-fight, the traitor in our midst, the alpha-male being super hot but aloof, the mentor (who turned her into her bimbo sister against her will but is inexplicably lovable) kidnapped and tortured, alpha-male is not super hot, the revelation that the mentor has her emotions bugged (which is not creepy in any way and not at all stalkerish), wait--maybe the alpha-male *is* super-hot, trapped, escape trap, rescue the mentor, alpha-male will die unless she kisses him, fight with date-guy and rapist, rescue mentor, mentor will kill them all unless alpha-male kisses him(20), and the showdown with the thought-being (who isn't destroyed, of course).We have to ask: is it fun-stupid, or stupid-stupid? Well, if you known going in, it's fun-stupid. If it were a comic book, it would definitely be fun-stupid. But even then, I couldn't stand the doormat of a heroine(21). Wait, you ask, how's the writing? Pyrotechnic writing can save even a bad plot for some of us. Give us some examples of interesting bits!So I will.... - And what a strange world it was when a woman had to lose herself in order to find herself.- At the time I had no way of knowing Mr. Sand's true intentions, not like now.Footnotes. Mostly snarky. Some deleted. 2: This whole group recommends one another all the time, which makes their recommendations basically useless. 3: Nora Roberts is fond of this, too. It's a holdover from the romance genre but it's out of place in the more SF/F end of the genre, no matter how attractive Linda Carter is. Um. The author, I mean. 4: Sadly, I made those percentages up and probably underestimated them. 6: This is the first warning that she thinks giving up control of her life somehow reclaims herself. Really.8: OK, I don't like sex scenes in general, so it may be better than I think. 9: Stuff in this case being whips, chains, gags, etc. Playboy playmate returning fetish gear to her ex-boyfriend: sound like an adolescent male fantasy. 11: Reflexes always trumping electrical discharge in your muscles.12: Memo: Always take the knife away.13: I don't know what to say here. It's a slit down the tongue, if I recall correctly, making it forked. I really don't know what to say.14: As you do.15: She has the Powers of the Gloaming!16: Maybe her mother and father hooked up at a Sag Singles dance?18: If you didn't see that coming, I envy your innocence.19: Future marketing tie-in?20: Actually, this was kind of a neat twist. 21: It's all too common. But it really, really irritates me unless it's a point of character development.

  • Lorena
    2019-04-05 08:19

    This was an odd book for me...on the one hand, there are more plot holes than you can shake a stick at, and they're all big enough to drive a fleet of trucks through. It was one of those that kept me up at night after I finished it, thinking "WTF was [plot point X] all about? That makes no freakin' sense! And then there was [Y]! What was THAT?" On the other hand, the main character was very compelling, and the writing generally very good, so I'm giving the second book a try.

  • Jamie Collins
    2019-03-27 08:55

    I've started this, but so far I don't like it very much. There's something about the writing that bugs me - too much exposition, maybe.Followup:I gave it up 100 pages in. The story didn't capture my interest and the writing was too melodramatic for my taste. I mean, the heroine seriously says things like: "The knowledge of violence is my playmate."I also don't like the details of a character's psyche to be spelled out so explicitly. I prefer to get to know a character in a more subtle way as the novel develops. The secondary characters in this book, including a dull love interest, seem to exist for the sole purpose of psychoanalyzing the heroine for the benefit of the reader.

  • Pat Patterson
    2019-04-14 10:18

    I loved this book at the start. A third of the way through I almost went out and bought the rest of the series. Now I'm glad I waited. An interesting premise, decent writing and good battles are ruined by the "bibmo transition" and waaay too much chat about heels and fashion. Maybe it's just my bad luck, but this is the THIRD book I've read in the past 6 months where a normal woman wakes up to find herself transformed into Barbie. Massive boobs, tiny waist, long flowing hair. If you want to write about Barbie then why not have one of these women just go for surgery? The involuntary "beautification" process is bad enough, but then these books invariably force the subject to dress like a hooker. Fighting and running in heels and miniskirts. I promised that I'd never again read one of these and here I was, fooled again.And to make it worse she's transformed into her SISTER. The dead sister that she watched being terrorized, tortured with a knife, then flung out a penthouse window. I almost couldn't keep reading. But the story kept me plugging along. I blew through more than half the book in a weekend and then it's taken me a week to drag through the rest of it. Every time she mentioned a designer or heel size I put it down. And it got worse as the book continued. When the heroes are in their sanctuary, after waht was supposed to be a training session, two of the women's "heels clicked as they went down the hall". OK, we've been told why our heroine is wearing heels. Why is the other fighter in heels? What kind of mortal danger are they in where they don't mind sounding like a machine gun as they walk?And WHAT is the author's hangup with Chandra? I never did get a decent physical description, just that she "looks like a man", a "hermaphrodite", and the star of the book calls Chandra "She-Man" during an argument. WTH is that about? Am I reading a PR or the screenplay for "Mean Girls"? First we get the bimbo makeover, then she derides an unattractive female at every opportunity. Seems like someone has issues.My favorite mess was the catsuit stuff towards the end. "Cotton / lycra" blend. Oh, thanks for filling me in! Just the info I needed to know as they're preparing for a suicide mission. Then when she drops Hunter and sticks one of his guns in the waistband. Lycra Catsuits have waistbands?? And the whole pile of stuff she lugs: her mini crossbow, his 2 guns, baton, and a 12 foot whip with barbs. And the WHIP went into her POCKET?? LOL. Who knew they made lowcut lycra catsuits with cargo pockets? Lastly I didn't get the feeling that she's even been a comic book fan. The comic store folks were too superficial and were all stereotypes. As a lifelong SciFi/Fantasy fan and a veteran of dozens of conventions, I didn't appreciate the attitude. Or any of the attitudes: towards the comic folks, towards ugly women, and frankly towards sisters. I'd slaughter anyone that made me over into my dead sister. How could someone function under those circumstances? Anyway. Interesting story. Good battles and writing. But too many off notes to make this an enjoyable read. I'm going to re-read a Showalter or Kresley Cole to clear my head.

  • AH
    2019-04-05 06:01

    Scent of Shadows has some intriguing ideas. The book pits comic book hero type characters in a battle between Light and Shadow using the symbols of the Zodiac. Each Zodiac sign has a corresponding fighter in both Light and Shadow. There is a prophecy that the Kairos will come, and the Shadow forces are hunting him or her down.The Light and Shadow heroes track each other by scents. They each have their own specialty weapon exclusive to themselves. If they are killed by their own weapon, the killer gets to have 12 hours of “unscented” time where they are virtually invisible to their enemies.A little confusing, but it is a clever idea, and one I haven’t seen before. The setting for this book is in Las Vegas, which was perfect for this type of book. I can just imagine a TV series made with this book in mind. It could work.The main character Joanna/Olivia was a kick-ass heroine, but I felt that she wasn’t as strong as some of the female characters out in urban fantasyland. She was tough, but not the most likable character out there. Her merry band of Light Zodiac heroes were not the most welcoming out there, although I did like Hunter and Warren the best. I had a few things that I disliked about this book. I did feel lost at times, waiting for an explanation, a clarification, or further development of a plot point. There were large expanses of slow moving activity. I never did understand the principle of metamorphosis or why it happened. There was a tiny bit of romance, and even though I didn’t expect it, it just was not enough. The last 100 or so pages did get exciting. I may look into the second book, but not right away.

  • NikkiPeterson
    2019-03-25 08:56

    Holy crap, where to begin without just mindlessly babbling about all the good parts and giving up all the goodies? Hmmm...Let me think... Have you ever read a book about super heroes that wasn't a comic? This is pretty much it. It has it's own little twists and turns. There are comics involved... But not how you would think. It is so sweet how it all ties in together, but I can't really tell you without letting the "cat" out of the bag. I'm just having a hard time trying to put into words what I felt after reading this. It was like.... Exhilarated. I get so excited whenever I think of getting someone to read this series. I want them to go through the awesome-sauce of it all like I did and still do when I think of it.So I will start at the beginning.Joanna is the daughter of one of the big gambling bosses. Her sister Olivia, is the exact opposite of her. Where Joanna is dark haired she is light. Where Joanna has a sharp wit and biting tongue, Olivia has a bubbly personality. The story starts 24 hours before her next birthday. The birthday that will change her forever. Whether she likes it or not. She can either live up to her destiny or die.The night before her birthday she runs into the one and only man she has loved, Ben Traina. They had parted on very bad terms. However, seeing him again makes her realize how much she has missed him and loved him. The make a date to go the next night. On her way home she hits a "bum", or whom she assumes to be. The guy heals amazingly fast and starts talking how he is a super hero. Not only is he a super hero, but he is the command leader of Zodiac troop 175. The good guys. His "cover" allows him to meander around overlooked. Just another homeless nutter out on the streets of Las Vegas. He tell Joanna her next birthday will bring with it her super powers. If she manages to stays alive he will meet with her again.She meets the next day with her "father", Xavier. She learns that she is in fact not his biological daughter, much to her relief. There is no love lost between the two. She will be allowed to keep her house, car and will be given a small allowance. But, she will loose in place she may have had in the family business. Fortunately for Joanna, this distresses Olivia more then it does her. After the meeting, she is on her way to her date with Ben. Things go very well and if she didn't have to meet up with her sister Olivia they would probably have spent the night making hot, mad, monkey lovings. She meets up with Olivia at 11:30 so that when it turns midnight Olivia can give her her birthday gift. Olivia's ex-boyfriend drops by to pick up some of his things and that is when the shit hits the fan.The boyfriend recognizes who she is about to become in the matter of seconds. Joanna feels the building first tremor and sway and then feels like she is hit with a bolt of lightning. As it starts to recede she quickly reaches for a knife she had put in her boot after her conversation with the crazy bum. She flips it open and throws it in the boyfriends chest. Why you may ask? Because he's one of the bad guys and was coming at her with a scimitar. She falls to her knees exhausted with what she had just went through and when she looks up again it is to see the body of a dead man in front of her and her sister trembling in a corner asking her if she is OK.As the girls are recovering from what just happened, they don't see the boyfriend until it's too late and he has a hold of Olivia as a hostage. Joanna is willing to do anything to protect her sister. She tries to get him to let go of Olivia and take her instead. He begins cutting Olivia and Joanna yells for him to stop. He does...but then throws her body out of her high-rise apartment building.And that my friends is just the beginning.

  • Jim son of Jim (formerly PhotoJim)
    2019-04-12 08:22

    Finished this today. Well, first of all, for a 450+ page book, it went really fast. There are some definite cool parts. There are some definite not so cool parts. The scent thing? cool. The comic book shop kids? Not cool. The characters are pretty good. The plot is decent. The world makes no sense whatsoever. I just don't understand parts of this world/mythology.A decent character face-off with decent dialog is followed up with a scene where a characters bones are melted and eyes bleed when they passed through a portal. But then someone gets a great idea and she can pass through the portal again with no adverse affects if she just wears these cool shades? Hit and miss like that across the board. Enough good stuff to order the second book. Enough bad stuff to not get anxious if it doesn't show up for awhile.

  • Haralambi Markov
    2019-04-07 04:08

    “The Scent of Shadows” by Vicki Pettersson for me is probably one of the best books I have had the pleasure to read in a while. It can be described as gritty, dark, violent and one of the more captivating Urban Fantasy titles on the market. A lot can be said about the book, the ideas it conveys and the quality of the writing. By my rating standards this novel exceeds the maximum ten points and skyrockets far in the distance.“The Scent of Shadows”, which actually is only the first installment of the “Signs of The Zodiac” series, follows the photographer and multibillionaire heiress Joanna Archer from the moment her life changes for the worse. She is a strong character, which is typical for the genre and has a colorful biography to boot. From being messed up by a trauma in her childhood that led her train herself to be a modern age amazon Joanna finds herself thrown into the great battle between Light and Shadows agents, where her fighting skills, short temper and her aptitude to violence come in handy.The other face of Las Vegas hidden behind the neon lavish is a battlefield between the Shadow Zodiac and the Zodiac of Light, where twelve agents from both sides are meant to fill a star sign on each Zodiac. Each agent has his conduit, which is their special lethal weapon. Armed, dangerous and trained they have one purpose: fight. Seems like a standard good vs. evil plot, but here comes the world building and the reader is strapped tight and slammed into a rollercoaster of action. Vicki creates a sub-society of superheroes, who can heal fast and possess their own special mythology. Something that simply can’t be passed on so lightly.Another amazing factor is the sense of smell, which is taken and elevated to new and incredible heights. It’s not only there to make a small entrance as a deus ex machina to track the foe, even though one of its major purposes is. A whole new world is opened up with this acute and powerful sense of smell, which can detect all smells and their remnants and it even connects people to each other.But it doesn’t stop there. Vicki builds on top of that a whole science relying on genetics that is concentrated on how to mask and change smells and characteristic scents. Also killing a star sign with his own conduit your own scent is erased and you become invisible to the senses of the people around unless you make contact.For me all these little details that get revealed part by part without info-dumping and by sensible dialog is enough to hook me alone, but what made me purely addicted to her work is her style of writing. Judging by my own experience with writing, first person POV could never quite mix with wondrous paragraphs of deliciously long sentences of descriptions. It just shows how much I have to learn to extract the maximum of both techniques together and for that I simply bow down before her skills.But now let’s view Joanna Archer, who is not only flung without her consent or idea of the whole Zodiac troops and star signs, but finds out that she is the daughter of the leader of the Shadow Zodiac, while her mother is the prize star sign of the Light Zodiac. She is destined to do a lot and she can choose to be on either of both sides. As a bonus she possesses special skills from both sides as well.But of course being an awesome one of a kind hybrid isn’t all about the perks. Joanna, although playing for the good guys, is vulnerable to all the energies and defenses against the dark, although we are not sure as of yet if vice versa applies as well. Her role in the superhero society is met with mistrust as Light is equal to Shadow inside of her and the equilibrium between the both can and has been tipped easily.Her character is the most exact brought-to-life metaphor of the struggle between good and evil inside the human being and that is what makes her as real as any other human being can get. Coupled with the challenges to live the life of her sister Olivia, who was murdered the day, she went through the metamorphosis that unlocks her powers, Joanna has to adapt to being this new person. Exactly with this purpose in mind Vicki has her going through a drastic plastic surgery to become her sister. It’s not only a quest to find a place on the battlefield, but to find the person that you are. “Who are you?” is the question Joanna posses to the woman staring back from the mirror and we witness how she is getting closer to finding that answer in between receiving punches and multiple stab wounds.By the length of the review, you can conclude how much I liked it and I can still comment on everything ranging from the author’s choice of words to the secondary characters and the amazing climax surrounding the traitor among the Light Zodiac. All I can say is that Vicki Pettersson has arrived, plans to stay and there is nothing stopping her.

  • Felicia
    2019-03-31 09:24

    Err....potential here in setup. Not the best execution, but I want to read the second.

  • Elspeth
    2019-03-31 06:02

    Meh. The writing wasn't bad, the story was kind of interesting, but most of the characters pissed me off.

  • Kay
    2019-04-19 05:24

    Pettersson throws us straight into the action - leaving us to work out the universe as Joanna does. It is a complicated one too, as we have zero frame of reference to go on. Put simply, this series is about a war between two superhero factions: the forces of Light and Shadow. Their battles are depicted in comic form after the fact, then sold to humans as fiction.Had I understood this before starting, I likely wouldn't have continued. While I appreciate the whole superhero thing, it just wouldn't have enticed me enough to read it. But boy, would I have been wrong. Vicki Pettersson is a brutal writer. The blood, the sex, the cruelty just seeps out of the novel, unabashed and unashamed - much like Vegas itself. The setting is more than ideal for the horror of the novel, in fact, it might not have worked set anywhere else.Joanna is a tortured heroine - for a change - and is damaged beyond belief. It makes her both tough and endearing, an odd combination to say the least. Considering the horror Pettersson subjects her to, you will be as surprised as I am that she does not spend the entire book in tears.The action is brilliantly described, the writing nearly flawless, and the universe-building is gratifyingly natural. Joanna's troupe is made up of very complex, unique characters - each with a story of their own. It's a refined book, if one can say such a thing about horror, and a definite must - especially for those of you hoping to try something a bit new.

  • Blodeuedd Finland
    2019-04-10 07:19

    What's up with rape and UF. I know UF is PNRs darker sister but all the rape, must we?So yes Jo was raped at 16 and is all messed up cos of that. Also suddenly after almost 10 years she sees her former BF and wants to do something about it. Why wait that long? Ok so that was not my point. What is my point?One messed up heroine who knows krav maga. She has a bimbo smart sister. She has a dad who hates her. She has painful memories she can let go of.But she is also special, but the road there was a bit, did you have do that?Also, I am not sure I actually like Jo. She is not very likable....and neither is anyone else.I did think the book was good. Interesting, darker than usual somehow. But that still does not make me wanna read more. I felt it was not a good UF fit for me. I still read it fast though, but something was still off.

  • Carolyn Crane
    2019-04-03 04:20

    Smart, multi-layered, and thrilling with good meaty psychological drama. The Zodiac books have everything I love in an urban fantasy! The main character, Joanna Archer, is into photography and has a thing with darks and lights, and this theme echoes through the series in a hugely cool way. These days, Zodiac is one of my favorite UF series along with Armstrong's Otherworld.

  • Lesley
    2019-04-16 07:58

    Wow. This was different than anything I've ever read - the magic system, the types of supernatural people - ok, those were really the big differences. No vampire or werewolves, thank god. That has been beaten to DEATH. In this case, it was agents of Light and Shadow. But they aren't demons. Or anything else. The can smell each other and chase their enemies down by scent. They fight with weapons, not magic. They are sort of superheroes with secret identities. They aren't human, but sort of another branch of human evolution, each assigned to a sign of the zodiac, with good and evil versions of both. And the evil ones are REALLY REALLY EVIL. The good ones try to protect humans, and the evil side tries to incite chaos. It was really original and well done - so original that sometimes it was almost a foreign concept. Which was nice.So I had set this series aside while culling through that giant stack of paranormal romance I have. It looked more serious, like it was a series of actual novels instead of just trashy soft-core erotica, and I was right. The author really is a good writer - she's a bit more literary than what I've been reading lately (as literary as you can get writing paranormal adventure), and boy, can she emote. She had me in tears for a good half the book, and I really cared about the characters. At first I thought just the heroine had SO many bad things happen to her - but it wasn't just her, it was really every character on the light side. There is so much tragedy and pain for ALL of them, and the author makes you feel every bit of it. Luckily, it isn't just a huge depression-fest - she also writes about rising above the pain and tragedy and making good things with or in spite of it, instead of living in darkness and being trapped by your past. I wouldn't say it was inspirational, but it was good to read.The one thing I really didn't like was her attempt at humor. Sure, her insults and banter with the enemy were GREAT, and her dialogue really moved naturally. Except - there were times when she would try to set up tableaus of humor that just fell flat with me, mainly due to hinging the entire thing on making fun of a stereotype. First it was the blonde bimbo with giant boobs, then it was the comic book nerds, and then the mannish woman. Most of the books in this genre rely on humor to move it along, and certainly without humor this series would be rough, but she just missed the mark on this part. Even the stereotypes were just wrong - as in, they weren't really stereotypes. I guess you should know your subjects before you make fun of them. If the characters hadn't been SO far off from reality or had been even a reasonable stereotype, it might not have been so lame. And I don't toss off 'lame' casually like we to in modern speech, I mean that it really limped sadly along.The other thing that annoyed me was that she built this absolutely beautiful love story - and then just kind of ignored it. There was one sex scene, and I can tell you that after all the trashy crap I've been reading, I'd begun to think if I just didn't like reading sex scenes. I generally think they're boring, or jar you out of the narrative, or are just thrown in there, or are obnoxious in some other way. But this sex scene was beautiful, sexy, and I was riveted to every word. It wasn't tittilating so much as it an amazing emotional ride, finding your lost love and realizing that everything is right. Maybe I'm just one of those stereotypical women that doesn't like sex scenes unless there's a great story and emotion involved. It's nice to know that I can be moved like that, and enjoy it so much.So here the author set up this amazing romance that was so beautiful and tragic - aaaaand the next thing you know, you don't hear anything about this guy. If they're soooo in love, why isn't she thinking about him more? It's like she switched him off. Then randomly she would think about him, and it was supposed to be full of emotion, but I just didn't feel it. And then suddenly it was like, "Ooo, who's that SUPER HOT GUY?" Then nothing - then how much she loves the original guy again. It was just kind of weird. I don't know if she was trying to set up an alternate love interest or what, but that seemed kind of impossible considering what happened to the original couple in the first 1/4 of the book, and their tragic past. So she has this one great love, but only part of the time?And lastly, a minor thing, really - during a big Sherlock Holmes moment near the end, where she reveals the enemy plot - everyone just sat around and listened. No interrupting, nobody walking out, nobody yelling at her - despite the fact that nobody trusted her and any real person would have walked out in disgust or thrown her in the klink or punched her. Uh...Anyway, quibbles aside, I really do think this a VERY good author who can write original and interesting things, as well as amazing AMAZING emotion. I have the next 2 novels in this series, and I'm looking forward to reading more about this strong, emotive heroine and her interesting zodiac colleagues.

  • Steph
    2019-03-30 03:59

    Overall: 3.5★The Scent of Shadows introduces us to multi-billionaire heiress Joanna Archer. We meet her sister Olivia, who is the epitome of the Paris Hilton-type wealthy heiress to the outside world, but she has a big heart and is Joanna's best, and only, friend. While Olivia is loved and pampered by their father, Joanna and he are like oil and water. They tolerate each other, but only just.When Joanna was sixteen, she was assaulted (OF NOTE: the assault and rape are not described in detail), raped and left for dead. She's spent every day since then making herself stronger, so that she can never be taken advantage of ever again. She spends much of her time alone, wandering the streets of the city, taking pictures of the homeless and seedy parts of town. Since her childhood trauma, trying to do the opposite of what she feels happens to most survivors, she never says no when asked out on a date. That's why she ends up on a date with a not-so attractive dude. The date starts out as most do, but then things get weird. (view spoiler)[She seems to come back to life when her former, childhood sweetheart, now a cop, shows up on the scene of her fight with creepy dude. Their reunion was like CPR for her character. I was shocked when the author makes it so that they cannot should not end up together. Although I guess I shouldn't have been b/c this is not a PNR, it's a dark UF, no HEA here. (hide spoiler)]The night of her birthday, Joanna's world turns upside down and inside out. She's drawn into the world of the light and shadow Zodiac. (view spoiler)[When I learned that the Zodiac called themselves Super Heroes, I snickered. REALLY? Like in comic books? Yep! They have their own comics! OK?! (hide spoiler)] She has "friends" who help her through the massive learning curve and she does a great job (almost too good considering) adjusting to her "new life".The first 1/3 of the book, I really enjoyed. The second 1/3 was eh. The final 1/3 had me deciding to continue the series, at least through book #2, The Taste of Night. I can definitely understand why some readers' reviews RAVE and some RANT about this one. For now, I'm firmly planted in the middle, neither ranting or raving.

  • Kelly ~Bibliophile~
    2019-04-10 05:08

    3.5 stars - but since I cant give it that Ill go with 4 since it was a pretty cool idea. So, This book was a really interesting idea!"Light Zodiac Troops" keep watch over the big cities all over the world. 12 people, one chosen for each star sign, that attempt to counteract and stop the evil-doings of their Shadow counterparts.The book was a very fun read, though I had a few eye roll moments. I love the idea of "superheros" keeping an eye on the world but I wish that in the book they called themselves something different. How far up your own ass do you have to be to call yourself a Superhero? It was a bit cliché and irritating, but that's more of a personal preference than anything bad about the book itself. I just couldn't get the image of adults in poorly made masks running around.The main character, Joanna/Olivia Archer, is so-so for me. She has great potential but we will see where she goes. I DID feel pretty bad for her, though. Her sister is murdered in front of her and she is forced to go through serious plastic surgery to BECOME her in every way. That's gotta mess with your head. Then the whole thing with Ben was a love-hate. By 8% into the book she is in bed with him and totally in love. I dislike romances that have already known each other and have a past because I don't feel that burning connection but after everything that happened I felt terrible for them both.I thought the characters were a little boring and I'm hoping the next books really show some growth and flesh them out a LOT more.There were too many plot holes and things I wanted expanded though. Metamorphasis?You burned from the inside out when you went into the Lights fortress because of the Shadow in you? BUT if you wear these nifty shades all of a sudden you'll be all better? Fighting skills? Weapons? Powers? These could all have been drastically built upon. (and maybe will be in other books! I don't know yet!)All in all, super cool idea and the execution was ALMOST up to par. But, Im still interesting enough to buy the next book.

  • Paula
    2019-04-10 12:04

    This is another of those occasions where bookswapping has saved me from wasting my money on a book Amazon recommended to me but which is nothing like the kind of thing I want to be reading...The basic premise of The Scent of Shadows is that it's about Joanna, daughter of a Las Vegas billionaire, who somehow survived a vicious attack when she was a teenager and now discovers a much darker side to reality than she had ever thought existed. She's dedicated the last few years to becoming a fighter rather than a victim, mastering martial arts and honing her weapons skills.Now Joanna finds out that she is meant to be part of an organisation that fights evil (yes, really!) where all the signs of the zodiac have their dark and light (or should that be Dark and Light, given the nature of randomly occuring capital letters to imply importance?) personifications. Where it starts to get dumb is when Joanna is attacked and her sister is killed, only for Joanna to wake up and discover the organisation has used plastic surgery to turn her into her sister. Who is, of course, a busty blonde that nobody would expect to be kicking arse when she could be maxing out her credit cards.The main problems I had with The Scent of Shadows were that the worldbuilding was so sledgehammered home that we were treated to regular chunks of exposition masquerading as plot, and then the whole MarySue nature of Joanna herself. Clearly all she needed to be the perfect warrior was bigger boobs and a bottle of peroxide, as suddenly she's the dogs bollocks. I gave up about two thirds of the way through, tired also of the wangst over Joanna and her former boyfriend who she got to shag once before she had to lie to him about who she really was. *yawn* The series continues in The Taste of Night, but there's plenty, much better written urban fantasy out there and that's what I'll be reading instead!

  • Reed
    2019-04-06 09:01

    What's in a name?I read Pettersson's first Zodiac novel, expecting a somewhat standard urban fantasy--especially since it was being hyped by Kim Harrison, a heavyweight in the field.The novel has many of the now standard bits found in the urban fantasy genre:--gritty, wisecracking female protagonist--a heady mix of humor, fast-paced action, and a sprinkling of romance (perhaps due to the high percentage of female readers of this genre?)--secret societies at war in an unsuspecting world--a protagonist that goes through extreme suffering, only to come out on top in the endSo why does this book feel different somehow? I think it has to do mainly with Pettersson's choice of words, one word in particular. About halfway through the novel, as Joana begins to learn about her powers and birthright (another standard), the word gets used for the first time--superhero.Huh? Usually it's werewolf, vampire, sorcerer, or something of the sort. Not superhero. In fact, if you merely replaced the word superhero with something else, I might not have even noticed a difference. Sure, some geeks in the book create comic books about these super-powerful characters, but if they weren't called superheroes, I don't think I would've thought anything of it.But once superhero gets bandied about, it changed the "feel" of the novel for me. It felt more over the top, technicolored and cliched. Silly, I know. I've read a slew of novels recently and not blinked with vampire or werewolf characters in an urban setting. Why does this change things?I'm not sure. Did I enjoy the novel? Yeah, I did. Pettersson's writing is strong, and some of the choices she made surprised me. Other aspects were fairly standard, but don't we read these books expecting comfort from their familiarity?Overall, it was a good novel. Will I read the next? I'm not sure. The urban fantasy field is so damn crowded, I can't read too many before getting burned out. We shall see.

  • Shelley
    2019-04-20 08:21

    Storyline: When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert. By rights, she should be dead. Now, a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset, a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow; seeking answers to whom or what she really is and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure. On the eve of her 25th birthday, she finds it in the form of a peculiar date who looks like a gaunt banker one moment and like hell spawn the next. This blind date wants nothing but to kill Joanna once and forall. Joanna fights her way out of his grasp, but her close encounter is only the beginning.Before long, she finds herself caught up in a world where a superhuman few the Light fight evil from the Shadow realm, a world in which she's recognized as the "Kairos," a prophesied warrior made up of both Shadow and Light who's destined to help Light prevail. Joanna and her sister Olivia are two sides of a different coin. While Joanna finds herself among the dregs of society, Olivia is a playboy centerfold beauty who parties until the break of dawn and who's father is the billionaire who owns a huge hotel/gambling casino.When the dark realizes that Joanna has finally come into her powers, the same has her long lost mother, they come at her with everything they can. That's when Joanna meets the Light, and becomes the Archer. The only problem with being part of the light is, they don't really trust her because of her connections to the dark. They even force plastic surgery on her to make her less likely to be recognized by the dark. Unfortunately, that means that her sister Olivia ties a tragic death because they want Joanna dead.Ok, so, if your not into comic books, you probably won't get the references, but, if you like a nice UF thriller, this is a nice start to the series.

  • Keysha
    2019-03-29 06:00

    Para mi esta novela fue como un coctel ya que tomo un poco de las historias de los sĂșper hĂ©roes, mĂĄs un poco de la historia detrĂĄs de los signos del zodiaco, mĂĄs una pinta de la eterna lucha entre la luz en la sombra y por ultimo una joven capaz de patear traseros sin remordimiento alguno pero con un gran corazĂłn y ÂżcuĂĄl es el resultado? E l comienzo de la historia de Joanna Archer.Al empezar a leer esta novela al principio no estaba muy segura de que me iba a gustar pero mientras leĂ­a me di cuenta de que Petterson quiera primero que todo escribir algo totalmente diferente a lo que estĂĄ en el mercado aunque hubieron momentos algo monĂłtonos en la novela y hasta algo confuso sus esfuerzos no son en vano ya que logra darnos una historia como lo dije antes solida y un excelente comienzo a la saga que a la fecha va por el libro no. 4.El libro tiene sus momentos cĂłmicos como tambiĂ©n tienen sus momentos dramĂĄtico y hasta crudos sin embargo habĂ­an momento en el que no entendĂ­a bien lo que querĂ­a explicar la autora y me tocaba leerlo nuevamente hasta entenderlo espero que esto no pase en los prĂłximos libros.Otra cosa que me encanto es que Joanna a pesar de ser una maquina destructora nunca dejo de ser un humano con problemas tanto fĂ­sicos como emocionales y aunque su carĂĄcter era algo duro y agresivo (ya sabrĂĄn por que) tambiĂ©n tenĂ­a sus momentos frĂĄgiles y mĂĄs cuando estaba con las personas que mĂĄs amaba!En conclusiĂłn chicos si quieren leer una buena historia de fantasĂ­a urbana con componentes fuera de lo normal y relatada desde la cuidad donde la diversiĂłn nunca termina, Las Vegas, entonces no duden en leerlo les prometo que les encantara!

  • Cindy
    2019-04-10 11:14

    I had the whole set of Vicki Pettersson's Zodiac series sitting on my to be read shelf. For some reason I kept passing over them. I don't know why...I just did. Now I'm mentally kicking myself for doing that...these books, at least book one, are wonderful!Joanna Archer has had a troubled time all her life, when she was a young teen she left her boyfriends house, and as she cut through the desert, returning home, she was raped, beaten and left for dead. As she lay in the hospital the boy she loved could not stand that he let her go alone and felt guilty and so they parted. 10 years later, on her 25th birthday, a very weird and smelly man tries to kill her. The man who arrests him is the boy who left her 10 years prior. The spark is still there, so she reunites with him. Joanna then heads to her sisters 9th story condo to celebrate and open her special gift from her beautiful baby sister. And then things get worse, and still worse and then....things get worse. I was so heartsick for Joanna...She finds that she is a Zodiac warrior, charged with keeping the balance of light and dark by keeping the shadow warriors from causeing death and chaos through out Joanna's beloved town of Las Vegas. Training begins in ernest for Joanna....And she MUST leave all the friends and lover's in her life. Joanna must cease to exit. To the world Joanna Archer must be dead. Look out shadow warriors...this pissed off gal is out for vengance.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-21 07:21

    One of the best series I have read in a while. Imagine finding out that you are a superhero and your entire life changes in one night? Yeah most of us would not handle that well and frankly neither does Joanna. She does a lot of crying and raging about what this "new life" has cost her and frankly I feel her pain. And whoa is she pissed with good reason!! All she wants is revenge and instead she has to sign on to save the world. I think the action and the pace catch you so fast and draw you in so quickly you just get sucked into the book and the world. I don't think that all the plot questions are answered in this first book but as a hint and well....tease some are answered in the second book already!! I immediately started reading the second book and I gotta say I am loving it. It is rare that a book with so much action can make me cry but this one did. Joanna is in a difficult situation and through no fault of her own her life has been f@#*ed up several times over. It is painful to watch and yeah the writing is so descriptive I really feel you do. I think this has the added bonus of appealing to the comic book geek in my and for all you comic book geeks!!I would highly recommend this series it is fresh and had new paranormal forces, quite a change from vampires and warewolves!!

  • Mrs. Badass
    2019-04-14 07:08

    This book was intriguing enough that I want to read the next, but there were plot holes and some dragging pages. Joanna Archer has been through hell, and is about to be dragged into the burning pit. I felt really bad for Jo during this whole book. The parts with her and Ben were Sad and hopeful and then...I want to learn more about Ben and what is happening to him.I thought parts were confusing, but I'm glad I stuck with it. This is more Urban Fantasy and less romance, which as fine with me.I'm hoping the next books supplies more information as I thought this book could have used more about the super heroes, their powers, their weapons, and fighting techniques. I never thought Jo was TSTL, which was a nice change. She is broken but not not out yet.

  • Schnaucl
    2019-04-04 06:18

    Warning: This review contains spoilersThe premise is that there are a bunch of superheroes in most major cities, a dark group and a light group. Of course, no one in the regular world knows about it. It's a little bit like X-Men only not as open. I liked the book. It was a fun read even if there were times when the characters seemed particularly dense. The first time Joanna mentions she had a child and the Zodiac mentioned that they operate under a matriarchal society she should have made the connection. I did. And it's not like she hadn't been thinking about the kid.

  • Laura the Highland Hussy
    2019-04-08 07:21

    I am officially done with this book. BUT I am not rating it or adding it to my d-n-f shelf because I couldn't make it past page 30. I tried, I really tried. Maybe when I'm in the mood for a dark and gritty UF I'll come back to it-that's the advantage of books-they're always there waiting for me.The premise sounds super interesting, and the fact that it takes place in my hometown is awesome! But I'm shelving it for a while, and I will come back to it, just for now, I'm moving on.(can you tell I feel guilty when I dnf a book? lol)

  • Janon
    2019-04-09 05:22

    I read this book on the recommendation of some invisible friends online. I liked that the heroine was fairly strong, but with flaws, and flaws that I could understand and empathize with. One challenge I have with the later Anita Blake novels is that I really, really don't like her.The only thing I really didn't like about this novel is the physical transformation that happens midway, because again - what a surprise, the heroine is a mega-babe. Jeez, aren't there any just ordinarily pretty women out there who can kick ass?

  • Ami
    2019-03-21 10:18

    I know that I should've given it a chance, at least until I get into 100 pages or so. But really ... a girl who is raped and beaten to death when she is 16 and now her motto is "to never say no"?!? I mean, WTF? And I took a peek at the ending ... I guess I would just be more confused and pissed off with it. I have encountered feeling confused with other UF books before but this one will just not do for me.So yeah. ABANDONING SHIP! (and move on to different book, my life is to short to get frustrated with one book)

  • Angela
    2019-04-17 05:23

    28 January 2016: $3.99 on Kindle3 July 2015: $2.99 on Kindle10 February 2015: $3.99 on Kindle

  • Dawntwilight000
    2019-03-31 04:15

    I tried to like it ,really. The first 75 pages had me hooked until Ms. Petersson decided to "jump the sharktank". I got to page 246 out of 418 and couldn't take it any longer. Flounced.

  • John
    2019-04-07 06:59

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. What struck me most was the author's writing style, dense and rich with both visual and olfactory elements that made me feel I was right there from the beginning to the end, and the first-person narration anchored me to the main character's inner and outer life. Such vivid descriptive writing in a first-person narrative, not too common for urban fantasy, reminds me of detective novels I used to read long ago.Throughout the book we find out about what's happening and the universe it's happening in only through the actions and discoveries of the heroine, a woman of powerful emotions who is more than willing to use her combat skills. At first she seems to be cast as Vengeful Victim, more like Cynthia Rothrock in Lady Dragon than any of the I Spit on Your Grave stuff, because after barely surviving an attack at age 16 (revised to 15 near the end of the book) she trains for years in Krav Maga and seeks out her attacker by putting herself at risk over and over. There's violent action right from the first chapter, and odd remarks from people she collides with increase and culminate in a cataclysmic and tragic event at midnight the next day, when she officially turns 25.In the aftermath of her terrible loss she is finally told, around page 110, the rudiments of what's going on and is given a choice: be framed for murder by the forces of darkness or be inducted into the forces of light. Both forces are structured according to the Zodiac in each city of the world, and their agents occupy mundane positions across the social spectrum; the dark agents foment death and chaos, and the warriors of light "scent them out" and try to destroy them. The agents' superpowers are more like enhanced ordinary skills and strengths, and there's continual training at the secret home base of Zodiac troop 175, where our heroine becomes the agent-warrior of the "first" sign--not Aries as you ordinary astrologers might think but Sagittarius the Archer.Although much is done to our heroine without her consent--including plastic surgery to force her into a shocking new identity that takes great social skill to maintain--she is tough and resourceful and takes the initiative more and more in situations where anyone would advise her to back down. And when she finally takes command in a climactic crisis against great odds, it's her strength of character, I think, that wins the day. Along the way, through actions and inner dialogue, we see her growing as a person. I was particularly impressed with her emotional development as she deals with people who are important in her life and seeks to understand who she is, given that unlike the other warriors of light she is half "shadow" herself.Does this sound like a five-star review? I give the book four stars because I really liked it in spite of a few problems that were fairly minor for me, though not for some of the other reviewers. For example, I thought the whole comic-book connection detracted from the main story; the only bright spot in it was that initial scene where our heroine, as it were, tests positive for both light and shadow and must therefore be The One (for Las Vegas? is there a The One for every city?).The evil mastermind's origin was unconvincing, though his presence worked for me.A blooper: at the start of chapter 19 Warren returns the kitten he's holding to the litter, but a few moments later our heroine is holding it.The life-changing transformation comes at midnight because that's when she officially turns 25, but in a universe structured by the Zodiac it's the solar ingress, the exact moment when Earth completes 25 orbits around the sun from the moment she was born. It's like the news feature saying "autumn begins at 3:26 this afternoon"--it would happen at a specific time on her birthday or the day before or after.But the confused, changing presentation of the world-building is fine with me because the first-person narrative stays strictly in the heroine's life as it happens, without any "if I knew then what I know now" digressions. Author's choice, and for me it was a very good one.