Source: eARC via Tor/Forge
My rating: 3 of 5 stars :star :star :star
Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was very excited to come across Delia's Shadow because it seemed to have that rare mix of genres: historical fiction set in early 1900s San Francisco, paranormal (woman who sees ghosts), mystery, and thriller combined. I was hoping for a very atmospheric novel that would take me back in time and creepy me out at the same time. Delia's Shadow definitely delivered that and more.
My problems with this novel actually came at the beginning. It was not as easy to get into as I'd hoped and I had a hard time adjusting/getting to know the main character, Delia. Once I got to know her a bit more and other characters were introduced I got more attached to the story. Delia is arriving at the train station in San Fransisco after being in New York for 3 years. She left her home in San Fran to avoid her "ghosts" which were so prevalent in Sam Fran but that nonetheless followed her to New York. It was once ghost in particular (Delia names her Shadow) who shows up by her bed in New York and doesn't leave Delia's side no matter what she does. She feels a compulsion to help this ghost but doesn't know how; until she goes back home, then things start to fall into place.
I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of this novel. Things kept surprising me and as soon as I thought I knew who the killer was or why things were happening, I would be taken by surprise and proven wrong. I also really enjoyed the character development. The author did an excellent job of making me care equally about not only Delia, but her best friend Sadie, and her fiancée Jack -- as well as Delia's crush Gabe. The secondary characters such as Annie the housemaid and Isadora the gypsy fortune teller were so lovable and I found myself delighted to be caring so deeply for 7 characters within a 300 page book.
One peculiar thing about this novel is the switches in narration from chapter to chapter. We mostly get Delia's narration which is told in first person. However, from the beginning we also get Gabe's narration which is from 3rd person. I know this bothered a lot of people and I can't say I hated it it I do recognize a lot of the smoothness issues I think were due to this. I'm not sure why the author chose to do this but I can't help but feel maybe it would've been better to keep it uniform. I did enjoy having Gabe's perspective though.
The romance between Sadie and Jack, and the developing romance between Delia and Gabe was really nice. In fact, it's what made the book for me. This book does have a lot of graphic, gory scenes with the murders and the description of the murders is very vivid. That didn't bother me, but the added romance and friendships really helped make the book more well rounded. I will say, if you're someone who doesn't enjoy reading violent murder stories, maybe pass on this book. It's definitely an adult novel, so expect an adult mystery thrillers amount of violence and that's where this stands.
The only reason I'm giving this 3 stars (besides the narration bumps) is because of the ending. Don't get me wrong, I was satisfied with the ending overall. However, I felt that the author did such a good job throughout the novel with the twists and turns, i was expecting the ending to have another big twist or surprise. When it didn't it sort of fell short for me. Perhaps she could've had more twists occur towards the end instead of none at the end. I'm not sure.
Anyway I loved the feel of the early 1900s San Fran with ghosts and creepy Victorian houses, filled with the creepiness of a psychotic murderer who is always one step ahead! I'm definitely holding my breath for the sequel. I can't wait to read more of Delia Martin and her ghosts!
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