I'm so, so excited to once again be part of the blog tour for Paula Weston's fantastic angel series, The Rephaim. Today I'm reviewing Shimmer, the third and penultimate book in the series. You can check out the other stops on the tour by clicking here or on the banner above.
By Paula Weston
Publisher: Tundra Books
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Synopsis: Gaby thought her life couldn't get more complicated.
She's almost used to the idea that she's not the teenage backpacker she thought she was. She can just about cope with being one of the Rephaim—a 139-year-old half-angel—whose memories have been stolen. She's even coming to grips with the fact that Jude, the brother she's mourned for a year, didn't die at all.
But now Rafa—sexy, infuriating Rafa—is being held, and hurt, by Gatekeeper demons. And Gaby has to get the bitterly divided Rephaim to work together, or Rafa has no chance at all.
Review: As has become traditional with The Rephaim series, I must first take a moment to show some love for the cover. Every book in the series has sported a beauty of a cover, and the one for Shimmer is no exception. Even if I hadn’t already come across the positive advance buzz for the first book in the series, Shadows, back in 2012, I still would have picked it up because the cover is such an eye-catcher.
It’s been a bit of a wait here in the U.S. for Shimmer, a wait made all the more torturous by the cliffhanger ending of book two, Haze. Rafa, my favorite character thanks to his endless supply of snark and high likelihood of causing swoons, has fallen into the hands of demons. Of course I already knew going into Shimmer that the fates of Rafa and Taya, another of the half-human/half-angel Rephaim, weren’t going to be revealed straightaway, but I also wondered how much of a presence Rafa would have in the book. I’m pleased to say that was a non-issue because our amazing protagonist/narrator Gaby continues to anchor the series, even when Rafa isn’t around to supply his usual acerbic (and amusing) commentary.
Gaby always seems to have a full plate of problems to cope with, and Rafa’s capture weighs it down tremendously. She’s only just reunited with her twin brother, Jude, whom she believed had died in a car accident, and now the siblings are scrambling to assemble a plan to bust Rafa out. Gaby and Jude are also still simultaneously working through memory loss, including the circumstances that led them both to be nearly killed. In their previous lives they had a falling out, with Jude and some of the other Rephaim, Rafa among them, splintering off into their own group and becoming known as the Outcasts. All present day Gaby and Jude know is that they’re together again, and their protectiveness of each other after each thinking the other lost forever is especially moving.
As devastated as Gaby is by what’s happened to Rafa and the horrors the demons are very likely subjecting him to, she doesn’t fall apart. Instead she tries to organize a rescue mission, not an easy feat at all when the Rephaim who didn’t walk out with Jude continue to remain loyal to their angelic leader, Nathaniel, a fallen angel with his own agenda. Nathaniel won’t budge on going after Rafa and Taya, even though Nathaniel counts Taya among his faithful Rephaim, unless he literally receives a sign from heaven. The majority of Shimmer takes place at the Sanctuary, home to Nathaniel and his followers, and when the Outcasts arrive there, tensions shoot into the stratosphere. Gaby refuses to allow Rafa and Taya to get lost amidst all of the messy Rephaim politics, though, and she really emerges as a leader here. With the support of Jude and a few other friends, Gaby realizes that they may need to take charge of this situation without the Sanctuary’s backing.
Paula Weston writes wonderfully throughout Shimmer, with the fight scenes especially well done. Sometimes I’ll read a fight sequence and after maybe the third exchange of punches and kicks they all sound the same to me. That’s not the case with this book, however. You truly feel like you’re right there, watching the action play out in front of you. It’s a completely immersive experience, made even more intense by how scary the Rephaim’s demon adversaries are. They’re as terrifying as the hell they were spawned in, but if there’s a single thing the Rephaim, including the Outcasts, agree on, it’s that they’re fierce, formidable warriors and can take on anything that hell throws at them. Seriously—they carry swords around the way regular humans carry cell phones.
I had a very strong feeling that I was going to love Shimmer not only based on how much I’d enjoyed the previous two books but also as soon as I started reading the Rephaim Who’s Who at the beginning of the novel. The descriptions of the characters are so witty, and a few of them are even sarcastic and sound like things Rafa would say. So I was hooked before the story even got underway, and once it did, I became totally lost in this world of angels, half-angels, and demons all over again. There’s zero question that Shimmer was more than worth the wait. Gaby has been a strong heroine from the outset, but Shimmer sees her character development ascend even higher. I’m so thrilled to be back among these characters, and the good news is, the series finale, Burn, is only a few months away!
All in All: We have another winning installment in this series here! If you haven’t checked out The Rephaim yet, I urge you to do so. I’ve read quite a few angel books that just didn’t do anything special with such a rich mythology, but Paula Weston has created a thrilling, compelling series that I will miss very much once it’s concluded.