Valley of Shadows
Author: Phoenix Emrys
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
American release date: July 23, 2010
Format/Genre/Length: E-book/M/M Paranormal Romance/290 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Ellery Joyce James is a literary success—copies of his latest bestseller are flying off the shelves. His exuberant agent Max—short for Maxima—is dying to know what Ellery is working on now, but he isn’t talking. Largely because he hasn’t started it yet, something he’s not about to share with Max.
Max nags at Ellery to get a bodyguard, but he is adamantly against the idea. He’s moved from New York to the small town of Birchwood, having been left a huge house there in someone’s will. He prefers his solitude, even if Max does think the former bed & breakfast is a monstrosity. But it suits Ellery just fine, for many reasons.
Ellery has a rather unique talent that no one suspects—he can see and communicate with the dead. Which makes it difficult for him to go out in the world—there are so many of them, it’s rather overwhelming. In Birchwood, he’s far less likely to find them. Plus he has his own little old lady ghost, Mrs. Sheridan, who screens access to Ellery. Still, he tries to help the ones he sees. Usually what they want is to send a last message to a loved one, often giving important information that was never passed on in life.
On his way to the diner, Ellery is almost run over by a handsome maniac in a pick-up truck, whose passenger is a pretty little child—who happens to be dead. When he runs into the pair at the diner, the little girl beseeches Ellery to please help her father. Normally, these are the types of situations Ellery works hard to avoid. But something about this one makes him reconsider. He just might be sorry he did.
The story is told in Ellery’s POV, in his voice, and I came to really get to know and like him. There is much more to Ellery than meets the eye, likewise with this story. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, another layer is revealed.
This is not your typical boy meets boy and falls in love tale. No, this is more like boy meets potentially homicidal maniac and fears for his life—so why is he so strongly attracted to him?
Besides Ellery and Boone, there is a supporting cast of supernatural characters you will come to love. I didn’t feel, by the end of the book, that I knew Boone as well as I wanted to, but I feel like I know Ellery. He’s funny and bright, at times self-deprecating, and he has a huge heart.
This multi-layered story was over too soon for my taste. I can only hope and pray there is a sequel in the works. This is my second read by this author, and certainly not my last. Well done, Ms. Emrys, well done!