Friday, August 06, 2010

Shadow of the Moon by Rachel Hawthorne

Hayden was born a Dark Guardian, but with a difference. Unlike all the others, she could sense the thoughts and emotions of all the other Dark Guardians when she was anywhere near them, which made life hellish and unbearable for her, as their emotions overwhelmed her own.

Her parents raised her apart from Dark Guardian society, because unlike Werewolves, she couldn't read the emotions or thoughts of humans. Every summer, she would be taken back to Dark Guardian society, hoping to acclimate her to the overwhelming emotions that she received there, but it never quite seemed to work. And then. her parents were killed in an accident, leaving her to be raised by the Elders, the leaders of the Dark Guardians.

A few months ago, Hayden was waiting for her seventeenth birthday, and her chance to finally make the transformation and become a werewolf, when a creature out of Dark Guardian legends resurfaced, killing Justin, a young man who was making his first shift. Thanks to the fear and pain he felt, Hayden was warned of the thing's coming, and it turned out to be a Harvester, a creature many thought was merely a legend of Dark Guardians past, or a myth.

But the creature that kills Justin is no myth, and it promises to come back and kill Hayden next, when she goes through her first shift. The Other Guardians promise to keep Hayden safe from the Harvester, but Hayden knows there is no safety from the creature and runs away at the first opportunity.

She runs, but not far, to a tourist destination known as Athena, only a few days travel from Wolford, the home of the Dark Guardians. Hidden among the humans, whose thoughts are silent to her, Hayden tries her best to blend in and not think about what will happen at her first change. She doesn't even mind dying at the hands of the Harvester, she just wants to keep her friends and fellow Dark Guardians safe.

But one of her fellow Dark Guardians manages to track her down: Daniel, a Dark Guardian from a faraway tribe, who hasn't been in the group that long. He's able to sneak up on Hayden because he, among all the Dark Guardians, is as silent in her head as the most normal human. Panicked at the thought of someone tracking her down, she tries to flee, but he's more canny than she is and can see through all the ways she tries to flee him. Finally, she must accept that he isn't going to be tricked, and accepts that she has to return to Wolford, but pleads to be allowed to stay in Athena a few more days so that she can leave at the end of the tourist season, like the rest of the migrant workers.

Daniel agrees, and that night, he and Hayden travel to a local ski park with Hayden's roommate and her man of the evening to look at the stars. Her roommate has friends everywhere, and even though the ski area is supposed to be closed at night, her roommate can get them in and get them the equipment they need to ski. But the ski area is really closed, as a young boy got separated from his parents on the mountain and cannot be found. Daniel and Hayden decide to help, so Daniel changes in the bushes where Hayden can't see and goes to find the boy.

He's gone for a long while, and Hayden sees a black panther, which she is startled to see because Blavk Panthers are not native to the area in the least. When Daniel returns, he's found the boy, built a fire near him, and cuddled with the boy to give him warmth. When the boy started to revive, he left. The two of them lead the rescuers to the boy, and afterwards, Hayden tells him about seeing the panther. Daniel seems just as startled as she is, and he asks her if she was frightened of it.

She says no, that it was beautiful. She just didn't expect to see it here, in the cold and the mountains. But later that night, she realizes that she never saw Daniel in Wolf form. She wonders if he doesn't trust her, and that's the reason why he won't show her his other form. This is unusual for her, as she can usually feel everything from someone, and it causes her to question him and what he really feels for and about her.

A couple of days later, she and her roommate have a massive end of the year party at their apartment, and during the party, one of the guys she worked with and sort of knows comes on to her, which makes Daniel really protective and wanting to claim her unconditionally. Hayden goes outside for a breath of fresh air, and Daniel follows her and kisses her. She feels overwhelmed by passion, and he wants to be her mate.

She asks him why he accepted the task of going after her, and he says it wasn't thrust upon him- he volunteered. But even though Hayden is realizing she has fallen for Daniel pretty hard, she doesn't want him to be her mate- she doesnt want him hurt. She asks him about why he wants to protect her from the Harvester, and he reveals to her that his parents were killed by it- his whole family, really. She is saddened by what he revealed to her and tells him about the death of her own family. He already knew that they were dead- he thought it gave them something in common.

Soon, the party is over, and they return to Wolford. This time, when she returns, it is different. Everyone is making an effort to control their emotions and not overwhelm her, which allows her to be without the pain of other Dark Guardians emotions pushing her own out. Daniel takes her back to the elders, who ask why she ran away, and she tells them about her fear for everyone. She doesn't think she is worth dying for. The elders and the other Dark Guardians disagree, though.

The elders reveal their plan to save her, special silver-coated swords that can kill the Harvester when rammed through its heart. This means that, unlike most Dark Guardians, whose first change takes place only in sight of their mate, Hayden's change will be witnessed by all the Dark Guardians, who need to be there to protect her. But when a Dark Guardian is killed by the Harvester and practice session with wooden swords goes awry, hurting Daniel badly, all Hayden's fears come back to haunt her. And when Daniel reveals his animal form to her, will her subsequent betrayal of their relationship come back to haunt her when her first change happens under the full moon?

I liked the first three books in this series, as all the characters from those books appeared in the other books first. This book, however, didn't have the same connection to the first three books, making it feel strangely disconnected to the rest. We've never seen or met Hayden before, and its stated in the book that she has been living apart from the other Dark Guardians, because their emotions overwhelm her. So when the other characters appear to know her, it's jarring. We, the readers, don't. We have never seen or met her before, so for her to be friends with the others just feels strange.

Mainly for that reason, Hayden felt unconnected to the Dark Guardians as a whole, and this book to the rest of the series. It was alright for being on its own, but the first three books felt connected in a way this one didn't. It didn't feel like part of the same series. And after the closeness in terms of characters of the first three, both Hayden and Daniel seemed disconnected to the whole- both because of their special characteristics.

So, I actually felt this was a weaker installment of the series than any of the others. Because if there is one thing that the Dark Guardians should be, it's connected to each other, and despite how Hayden's emotion-sensing powers work, I felt that she was unconnected to the others. I wish I liked this book more, but it wasn't to be. I would neither recommend nor not recommend this book. it was simply bland and didn't have that emotionally connected or character connected feelings I associated with the other books in the series.

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