In my review of Lothaire, I stated my concern that Kresley Cole may have set the bar so high that the next book may fail to reach it.
I needn’t have worried because in she has created such different character in Trehan Daciano and Bettina of Abaddon and has also moved the setting wholly from our world. Which is probably why it is book one a new series set in the Immortals After Dark series and not simply book thirteen. However, despite it being book one, I would highly recommend that you do read Lothaire first because that’s where the Dacians are actually introduced and that Shadow’s Claim slightly precedes and runs concurrently to it reference its events as it goes long.
We’re introduced to Bettina first and in such a brutal fashion that it’s actually quite shocking. Fortunately, it’s also a fairly short scene and I’m glad that it’s at the beginning of the book when her character it unknown. Had it happened later when her character was better known, it would have been much worse to read. Bettina is a member of the Sorceri who are kind of like witches except they usually only have one primary root power. Bettina’s was taken from hers in the attack so it can be imagined that she is not in a good place either mentally or physically to begin with. What’s more, even though she is an immortal, she’s only 22.
Trehan Daciano on the other hand is just under a millennia old and an assassin for the Kingdom of Dacia, a hidden kingdom of born vampires. He’s only in Bettina’s demon realm home because he is tracking a kill when he meets Bettina for the first time in a hilarious and erotic case of mistaken identity in which she ‘bloods’ him.
However, nothing can really happen between them because he’s on a mission to kill her best friend and her hand is about to be given in marriage to the winner of a tourney. Awkward much?
Both characters are amazingly likeable. Bettina has already been through so much in her short life and although suffering from PTSD tries to cope with it. Not only that but she is an accomplished artist in armour and weapons and already has a major patron. And I’ll be honest, it was a complete surprise to me who the patron was when they were revealed.
Trehan, on the other hand, despite being centuries older hasn’t lived since his heart stopped beating all those centuries ago. Since then, he’s only had duty to Dacia to live for. Only after Bettina gives him life again does he really start to live and it’s interesting to first see him enjoy life and then start to go off the rails a bit in a desperate pursuit of his bride.
However, as amazing as these two were, I adored Salem, Bettina’s non-corporeal phantom guardian. He was very close to stealing the show and is such a character. I hope we get to see more of him in the future. Or, well, at least hear him.
As I’ve stated, aside from a brief side trip to the Dacia, most of this book took place in the demon realm of Abaddon which also means that almost all of the characters that I’ve come to know and love were absent. Aside from a brief appearance by Nix, there’s not a single resident of Val Hall in evidence which has the added benefit that everything that happens is fresh. Events in previous books are mentioned but knowledge of them is not required because Bettina and Trehan aren’t intimately familiar with them either.
The only thing that I didn’t like about this is a trait that a lot of the male in this series seem to fall back on and that’s when they take a step that could be irrevocable such as bringing his bride back to his kingdom with no way to return to her own just because he can’t get over his own jealousy even when it’s clearly explained that he has no need to be. Those few pages are just annoying to read. It makes me want to slap him upside the head. But this isn’t the first book in the series to do this and it probably won’t be the last.
Overall though, Shadow’s Claim is yet another excellent work by Kresley Cole and part of a series that really does seem to get better with each book that is released.