Its another wintery day here at NJB and we’ve got a lovely treat for you, a review of ‘Binding Shadows’ by Jasmine Silvera! But first, as always.
Content warnings/trigger warnings: violent death of secondary character on page, sexual harassment of main character, misogyny, rape culture, viscera of animals described, deception between main characters about their pasts, some power imbalance at the beginning of the romantic arc, but resolved. As always if you have questions, please feel free to reach out to me here or on Twitter for more information on content.
We’ve got some amazing tropes to play with to start the book off and it was part of why I snatched it up. Its also so amazing to meet new diverse voices, especially in paranormal romance.
Binding Shadows has two main characters, the lovely Barbara and her counterpart, Tobias. Barbara is a witch who grew up without teaching for the most part and views her powers as a small ‘grace’ that she can do in limited spurts. Tobias grew up in a family of werewolves, but had a less than pleasant introduction to the wonders of growing fur and fights his nature with all his might.
They meet in the university where they both work. Barbara however is being stymied in moving forward in her career after an unwanted advance from a senior faculty member gets her labeled as ‘difficult’ and sees her career slowly swirling down the drain. Tobias enters the picture as the new faculty member who everyone is a little afraid of with his terse words and brusk demeanor (that our readers eventually learn covers his stutter). They spark together instantly, but its a complicated situation, especially after Tobias learns of her skills at research and taps her to work on his team.
I have to say, the author handles the power dynamic imbalance that occurs beautifully. I was super worried when I began that part but she found a way through that thorny mess that helped me breathe easy. I won’t spoil how, but fear not, its not as bad as it looks when you get there.
They navigate the world of academia with all of its politics and in and out groups well, while also slowly becoming more and more interested in each other. However, they both have their secrets to keep and this world is not a kind one for magical people. Its ruled by necromancers who keep a rather tight grip on any other magical activity and hunt down other magical individuals.
The romance continues, with a memorable hotel stay with only one bed, a beautiful backless velvet dress (the description made the costumer inside me die in the best way), some thrilling heroics and close misses and a distinct love of old books and history that pervades the whole piece. The librarian part of me was very pleased.
Its a true romance, with a HEA and a lot of sweet moments. I loved the scenes with Tobias’s family and can’t wait to see more of them and his brothers in the next books. I can see some of the dynamics already. His mother particularly really crept into my heart and found a space to stay. Her desire to protect her boys while also knowing her own strengths hit home and her feelings about being a witch who’d made a home on soil her ancestors hadn’t grown from really resonated with the diaspora part of me. I also loved the choice of Prague as a setting and the author’s clear research and enjoyment of the space. Having been there once in college, I found myself enjoying all the little details and tidbits.
My biggest complaint is that I felt the story occasionally wandered a bit or felt like it took a while to get where it was going. I also wanted more concrete detail on the necromancers and how they interacted within the world. I can feel the edges of great world building but I definitely wanted more.
All in all, a great first book in a series and I will definitely be looking for the next two. Here’s to more great works!
All the best,