Review of THE DARKNESS OF SHADOWS by J.L. MacDonald

After having read three short stories about J.L. MacDonald’s Nightcat, I felt that it was time to delve into the character’s one published novel. The Darkness of Shadows was a treat to read. It kept me interested throughout with Nightcat’s origin story, no easy feat for a novel written in the first person. I don’t normally like to read longer works in the first person but I really wanted to give this novel a shot. And I’m glad I did.

The book read like a comic book miniseries. I’m not sure if MacDonald was trying to do that or if the story line just lent itself to it. I could almost formulate points in the story where a good cliffhanger would have ended one issue. The prose, as I’ve come to expect from Ms. MacDonald, was crisp and easy to read. The characters’ interactions seemed so realistic, you could expect to meet Trinity at the coffee shop or Dana at the Chinese restaurant. She skillfully gave Dana and Nightcat distinct personalities, with Nightcat being a bit more extroverted.

The novel had a few swear words in it, but nothing more than a PG rating. I would like to point out that MacDonald could have easily gone over the top with sensual description, considering the subject matter. However, perhaps knowing that some of her readers may be girls who are looking for a good role-model, she didn’t. We see that Nightcat can be a flirt, but sex is left out of the novel (she and, separately, Dana kiss David, and he accidentally sees her naked with no description of her body). The short stories imply that Dana and David are sharing an intimate relationship but don’t describe it. Even comic books these days go farther. I appreciate the author in this.

There were some loose ends that I hope to see tied up in subsequent stories. We meet her son, but I don’t recall reading about him in any of the other stories. One character seemingly dies in this book, but is alive later on. Another character quits a job but is employed at the place again in the short stories that take place later. The website mentions two more stories, Where the Devil Dwells and On Death’s Door, along with descriptions of each, but no note on when they’ll be released. I’ll definitely look forward to reading them with they are.

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