Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer – Advance Review

Delias Shadow

Book Jacket:

A dark, romantic fantasy set against the backdrop of San Francisco devastated by the Great Quake

It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.

Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.

It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again.

And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.

You can read an excerpt here.


To be honest, in the end I though this book was a bit dull. 

Well, the word that springs to mind when it comes to describing this story is, sedate. From top to bottom, everything about this book falls into place like a well oiled machine, from the romance to the murder mystery, and actually I think that’s the root of this book’s problem. This story was just an inexorable slide towards the inevitable ending, and there was never any real question or doubt about how things would end up, or how the story would get us there – it was just too pat, too neat, in that way. So while there was nothing glaringly wrong with the story as a whole, it just lacked vivacity and temerity – and frankly, draw.

And unfortunately, that sense of pat-ness spilled over into the character work as well. The personalities of all the main characters were just a little too neat, a little too Good with a capitol G – they were all nice and loyal and true and trustworthy, friendships that will last a lifetime – and sadly that made everything a bit too easy, such that they ended up feeling flat and colorless. And the pairing of Gabe and Delia – the respective best friends of soon-to-be-married Jack and Sadie – was so disgustingly neat, and then the way they so easily adored each other just robbed the romance of interest, because it was so inevitable. And sure, there was sweet hand-holding and the like, but there was no real conflict, no tension, no rubbing of personalities between the two, no uncertainty, no questioning of whether they were right for each other, it was just a done deal, and again that made it all a bit…dull. Sweet, but dull.

And not to beat a dead horse, but sadly the murder mystery too suffered from that same sense of puzzle-piece neatness, which left the whole endeavor feeling a tad flat. The stand out, however, and easily my favorite part of the mystery – and the book overall – was Shadow, Delia’s ghostly stalker, because with Shadow at last we had some conflict, some uncertainty, some urgency, and a questionable agenda, which led to interesting revelations about her motives and backstory (though again, the way Shadow ended up tying into the larger mystery, and the lives of Gabe and Jack, was far, far, far too pat – I mean, the story ties it off with a bow, really). But even with Shadow livening up the proceedings – and even with some lovely poignant moments that come from Delia’s dealings with other ghosts – it just wasn’t enough to overpower the clockwork-like way in which ghostly clues arrive in a timely manner to lead Gabe and Jack along the trail towards the killer. It was like they were following signposts instead of using their ingenuity to uncover clues, which made it all feel too mapped out, which then led to the final reveal feeling rather anticlimactic. So, much as I did enjoy the fog-bound ambiance and Jack-the-Ripper-style air of danger, not to mention the slightly macabre nature of the crime scenes, it all just wasn’t enough to overpower the sense of inevitability.

And so at the end of the day, while everything about this book was perfectly fine, generally speaking – it made sense and came together and had a lovely sense of history – in the end, that just wasn’t good enough, for the romance or the mystery. And while I find myself perfectly willing to try whatever Moyer writes next, I really have no interest in ever returning to these characters or this world – which says it all, really.

Byrt Grade: B

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Kirkus Reviews says:

The narrative is impeccably constructed and presented, almost to the point where it seems like it’s on rails, though the characters are life-sized and blessedly free of any compulsion to do stupid things in order to further the plot. What’s missing are sparks of originality to make it stand out.

The Book Adventures says:

For me, the weak part of the novel was the romance…From my point of view I found Delia and Gabe’s relationship to be a little flat and passionless. In the end, I just didn’t buy into the emotions that Delia and Gabe claimed to have for one another.

Bibliophilic Monologues says:

I didn’t think it was possible but Gabe may be even duller than Delia which is just as well because then they make an awesome couple. The romance that the blurb promises is severely lacking. There is a dearth of chemistry between the two and no tension between them to liven things up. In fact, they are always holding hands and if someone were to do a count of the times Delia or Gabe took each other’s hand, we’d all be surprised and perhaps a little nauseated. There’s insta-love too in case you were wondering.