Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh, Gollancz, ISBN 9780575111813, RRP $29.99
Nalini Singh is a prolific New Zealand/Fijian author and something of an undervalued hero in the NZ literary scene. And by prolific I mean “over 30 books published and that’s not counting novellas and stories”. Yes, that kind of prolific.
She specialises in amazing romance/paranormal/sci-fi hybrid novels and Shards of Hope is the 14th instalment in her Psy-Changeling series. It’s also the first of her books I’ve ever read – if you know me you’ll know that romance/paranormal/sci-fi hybrid novels have traditionally not really been my thing. What I love about reviewing though is getting to read books I might not pick up myself.
The story begins with our main characters, Aden and Zaira, waking up wounded in a darkened cell and knowing they must escape, and survive, to warn others of a new powerful enemy. Their determination to protect their fellow Arrows soon extends to protecting each other when they end up in the midst of a changeling pack. And before you know it, boom chicka-wah-wah, they’re basically all over each other.
Okay, I’m cutting out a huge amount of detailed back story and history from Singh’s imagined world. Her characters are strong, complicated and sexy, and the action in Shards of Hope is virtually non-stop. The Psy-Changeling world is complex and believable while still retaining a bold fantastical quality. After 30 books Singh could be forgiven for being a bit formulaic but at no point did I feel she was “churning it out”. And after reading dross like Grey it was a relief to find some romance (which, by the way, is code for intense emotions and matching sexual escapades) that felt written by an author who recognises her readers are grown-ups.
Shards of Hope is immensely readable adult fiction and the perfect escapist fantasy for a wet weekend’s reading.