Reviews of the Living Dead: Scent of Shadows

Scent of Shadows – First Sign of the Zodiac by Vicki Pettersson

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Eos; First Printing edition (February 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060898917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060898915

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When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert.

By rights, she should be dead.

Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset—a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow—seeking answers to whom or what she really is . . . and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.

But the nightmare is just beginning—for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful shadows want her for their own . . .


This is a series that has been on my radar for a while, but I finally forced up towards the top of my “To Be Read” pile (more like mountain) once I came back from Romantic Times. The idea of superheroes and supervillains duking it out in Vegas in a zodiac inspired Heroes-like mashup grabbed my interest a bit. It spoke not only to the urban fantasy reader in me, but the comic book reader as well. Of course that places me firmly in the camp of the “shifty eyed adults,” but I get ahead of myself.

The first of a series (book five released just recently), is what I would expect from a first book. A few chapters of getting used to the characters and introducing the world and setting they will be playing in. For me, that is the hardest part of a book. At the same time, by the point I was sitting around page 60 or so, I was seeing an evolution to the character that was drawing me into her story.

As we follow Joanna Archer in her adventures I am drawn more and more in by her duality – a damn near self-destructive personality that fights at odds with the good natured person she wants to be. In short, she is broken. Much like the characters I love in Mark Henry’s books or on the show True Blood, Joanna is broken in some of the most interesting ways.

What I would like to see more of is the description of Krav Maga and how it pertains to Joanna. Krav Maga is a brutal, unforgiving martial art, but as The Archer it seems that the conduit that she inherits from her mother is at odds with her fighting style. In some ways it shows the duality of the character, but I would honestly like to see a bit more bone-popping from her.

Overall, it was a solid read and a good opening book for the series. It took me all of 30 minutes to download the second book in the series to my Nook. Book 4 and 5 are still sitting on my too be read mountain. For a beginning novel in a series I will give it a 4 dancing zombie out of 5, a B+ for sure. Well worth the investment and also available in audiobook form.


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