Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.
Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.
It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again.
And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.
Thoughts: I’m a bit of a sucker for fiction set in this time period, and throwing in a supernatural element just piqued my interest even further. Delia’s Shadow tells the story of Delia, a young woman who can see ghosts, and in particular one of them has been following her around for some time now, urging her back to her home in San Francisco. She calls this ghost Shadow, and knows little about her until the nightmares kick in. And then there’s the serial killer on the loose, following the same pattern as a serial killer 30 years earlier. Shadow, and thus Delia, and the serial killer are tied together somehow, and with the help of local law enforcement and a psychic medium, they must figure out how and bring the killer to justice.
You can spot the tropes coming a mile away.
The fact that this book is largely reliant on tropes, the tried-tested-and-true doesn’t make it a bad book. It makes it predictable, but that does work well for making a light comfort read, something to simply enjoy without expecting too much depth. That isn’t to say the book is mindless and doesn’t require any thought, since there’s some interesting commentary on the nature of spirits and social views of the supernatural, but that’s also fairly par for the course and wasn’t a ground-breaking revelation. It fit well within the confines of the story. There’s also the fun, as with many mysteries, of trying to guess who the killer is as the clues are slowly revealed. (I came to the correct conclusion only shortly before the characters did; my money was on somebody else through most of the novel.)
The book does have its drawbacks, however. The story lacked a great deal of depth, and many of the characters were largely trope-based. The high-society kind-hearted gossip awaiting her wedding day. The ahead-of-her-time psychic medium who doesn’t listen to male authority just because it’s male authority and actually views herself as equal to her lover. And oddly enough, I felt that the two main male characters were written so similarly that at times I couldn’t tell them apart. Which was pretty much the only reason I was incorrectly betting on a certain character as being the murdered through most of the book; it was so easy to forget who was related to who and what their history was. There wasn’t a huge amount to distinguish them.
The romantic aspect of the novel (because there nearly always is one) was okay. Nothing special. I didn’t feel much for the couples, but I didn’t feel that there was nothing to them, either, so it could definitely have been worse. Sadie and Jack were amusing enough, though Delia and Gabe were kind of a take-them-or-leave-them couple. It wasn’t insta-love, but it did move quickly, and without there being much time for the two to get to know each other.
Then again, that could be seen as points in favour of historical accuracy, so your mileage may vary on that one.
While I don’t think this is a book I would read again, I did still enjoy reading it. It was light and undemanding, with an easy style of writing that flowed well with even pacing. It was far from perfect, but I didn’t go in with those expectations and so didn’t come out disappointed. If you’re hungry for a quick read and you enjoy historical fantasy or historical romance, or a blend of the two, then Delia’s Shadow might well sate your appetite.
(Received for review from the publisher via NetGalley.)