Early Book Review: Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling #14) by Nalini Singh
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
The Psy-Changeling saga marches steadily onward…
One of the craft nuances author Nalini Singh excels at is threading complex storylines and large casts of characters into an overarching central plot without sacrificing reader attention or patience. Unlike a few other popular series, which have earned a reputation for losing readers around book 9 or 10, the Psy-Changeling series is still going strong at 14. Shards of Hope, for example, features a hero and heroine not even really introduced until the previous few books, but these are characters as vibrant and addicting as the Dark River and Snow Dancer packs who made up the core of the series at its beginning. Aden was introduced through Vasic, who was introduced through Judd, who was mated to an early Snow Dancer wolf. Ms. Singh doesn’t simply wave at her leads, then drop you off deep in their territory; she woos and romances you with tantalizing glimpses, hints of their power and appeal sewn carefully into each progressing story before setting the characters free on the readers in their own books.
If you’re considering reading Shards of Hope, you’re probably already a fan of Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series. If not, and you’re looking to try it out, start from the beginning with Slave to Sensation. Fans of Singh know she is a master of the slow burn, and that technique meshes perfectly with her Psy-Psy couple romances. We’ve already seen a few Arrow stories, so I was a little worried about Aden and Zaira coming off as tired or repetitive, but I shouldn’t have been. This is Nalini Singh: she never disappoints.
This is the first full insight into the lethal assassin squad known as the Arrows we’ve been treated to in the series so far. Sure, there have been glimpses through Vasic’s and Judd’s stories, but Aden is their chosen leader and his perspective is far more thorough than anything that came before. With Zaira being one of his top lieutenants, their partnership is strategic and powerful and has the potential to reshape Arrow society from the inside… which is, of course, the only way an Arrow would allow such drastic change.
Today, the smoke has dissipated, the mirrors have shattered.
And the darkness at the heart of the Psy race is once more a vicious truth no one can ignore. For what happens to the murderers and the insane in this new world? What happens to the broken?
They still exist.
They still kill.
The landscape of what defines a Psy or a Changeling is ever-evolving. Now that Silence has fallen, Psy are tentatively embracing their emotions publicly and Changelings are incorporating humans and Psy into their packs and business ventures. The defining characteristics of an Arrow differ from what they once were, even as recently as Judd’s and Vasic’s book; Aden faces a unique struggle and walks a separate path from his squad brothers. He accepts his emotions and uses them as a tool to secure his squad’s future. It is a privilege to witness the evolution of a character like Aden, who is such a strong and a capable leader, yet unafraid to show emotion and give free rein to that part of his psyche. He doesn’t spend his time, or ours, fighting a futile battle we knew he’ll eventually lose, and instead invests that energy in being a good mate for his chosen partner. The resulting character is a man who fights for his woman even when she can’t fight for herself.
In her resilience, he saw a ferocious strength where she saw only a monster.
Which is an odd thing to even imply about hard-as-nails Arrow Zaira—can’t or won’t fight for herself—but she lived through a very traumatic childhood and clings to the remnants of Silence as a shield under which she can function without descending into madness. The couple dynamic here is unique and quite beautiful, and I love how incredibly strong both these characters are, both emotionally and physically.
This series continues to evolve, and that opens up each character’s struggle, each couple’s dynamic, to a whole new world of possibilities as the overarching plot punches through the individual romances. I also love that Ms. Singh gives us a glimpse into the society of the underwater changelings. Just the thought of a woman turning into a mako shark makes me all kinds of curious about what the future of the series has in store for readers.
Aden, on what it means to be an Arrow in the post-Silence world…
“We are not that anymore. We are not only assassins trained to die and kill. We do not abandon the weak or the hurt. And we never, ever leave our own behind.”
A Changeling male, on Zaira’s attempt at an elite-level rock climb. Elite if you have claws…
“Boneheaded move, climbing that wall, but what can you expect? Dominant females are a law unto themselves.”
Zaira, on her new ownership of Aden’s jacket…
“I’m keeping this,” she said to him in case he believed any different.
His lashes, thick and long and curling, came down over his eyes, rose back up again. “You’ll have to shorten the arms.”
“I’ll just fold them.” She began to do exactly that. “If I cut them, you won’t be able to wear it.”
“I thought you were keeping it.”
“I’m going to lend it to you sometimes.” Then it would smell like him again. “But it’s mine.”
Shards of Hope is…