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Thank you NetGalley and Simon Pulse for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: March 3rd, 2016

Synopsis: Islington Arts Academy is not your average high school. Nestled in the forests of Michigan, surrounded by trees and nature and virtually no evidence of civilization, it’s an oasis for those looking to get away. Perfect for a student like Kaira Winters, who wants nothing more than to put her past behind her and focus on the present…and her looming graduation, just a few months away. But the past has a way of returning when least expected.

Kaira knows that what happened before, at her old school, wasn’t normal. She knows what happened to her ex-boyfriend wasn’t natural. But she refuses to believe that the recent death on campus, the one that has everyone on edge, has anything to do with her. She refuses to believe that she could be at fault again.  But just as the past always returns, the truth can never stay hidden for long. 

Even if Kaira didn’t cause the first death at Islington, or the second, or the third, she has the ability to find out who did. She has the obligation to stop whatever is coming to campus. To end the darkness that is falling with the same snow that once blanketed the woods in beauty.

But to embrace this power–to relinquish herself to the ancient entity that has been lurking in the corners of her mind–is to let go of her humanity…and Kaira doesn’t know how far she can go before she loses herself completely.

Shades of Darkness is one of those books that has so much potential but becomes mired in too much melodrama and confusion which makes for a frustrating read.

The first problem is how the book begins. I felt as though I was dropped in the middle of a story and it was difficult to get a grasp of what was going on. There’s multiple hints as to Kaira’s traumatic past, but nothing is really explained until the end of the book. All you know is that something terrible happened and Kaira has exiled herself as far away from her home as she can. She has so many issues and secrets she’s hiding that it makes it hard to relate to her at all. Even when the truth of what happened to her is revealed, I found myself not caring by that point. Further muddying the waters were the supernatural aspects. While from the beginning it’s obvious they have something to do with Norse mythology, it’s unclear for the majority of the book what they have to do with Kaira and the mysterious deaths that are suddenly occurring on campus. I will say the characters are diverse with Kaira describing herself as being an “unknown blend of Native American bloodlines”, but even this I felt was just dropped in there with no further explanation. Kaira’s best friend, Ethan is gay and the exchanges between him and his boyfriend Oliver, provide for the most enjoyable moments of the book. 

For being a relatively short book at 303 pages, the story dragged and I had to force myself to keep reading. While everything is explained in the end, for me it was too little, too late. This is going to be a series, but sadly I don’t think I’ll be giving it another try. It has received some good reviews though on Goodreads, so maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood.