Leah has always been haunted by the shadows, evil creatures only she can see. When the shadows murder her family and frame her for it, Leah steals a BMW and flees her hometown, ending up at a garage when the car runs out of gas. It seems fate has led her to this place. Not only does the owner of the garage also see the shadows, but so does Adam, the infuriating, gorgeous, belligerent, sweet mechanic who works there. Together this unlikely trio discovers a new way to fight the shadows. And the deeper they investigate into what the shadows are and where they came from, the more dire the situation becomes. Meradeth Houston bends the paranormal genre in her latest book, AN ABSENCE OF LIGHT. When I first started reading, I didn't really have any idea what exactly the shadows were (and neither does Leah), and finding out what they really are is an interesting surprise. As a reader who has been experiencing some paranormal fatigue lately, this story brought some freshness to the tired genre. High stakes and the undercurrent of the love/hate relationship between Leah and Adam pulled me right along through the story.
Leah’s always seen the shadow creatures. She thought she was immune to their evil—until now.
She’s walked into a massacre, stolen a BMW, and is running from the law for a crime she didn’t commit. Nineteen-year-old Leah’s life just went from mildly abnormal to totally crazy at lightning speed. But no one will believe that the shadow creatures are framing her for the murder, because she’s the only one that can see them. At least that’s what she thought.
When Leah stumbles across a group who share her ability, she discovers they have something she doesn’t: a way to fight back. When the group offers to teach her how to kill the shadow creatures, Leah jumps at the chance. But something is brewing with the creatures. They’re tracking down the hunters like there’s no tomorrow. Leah suspects that maybe there won’t be, and it’s up to her to make sure tomorrow comes. Because she’ll do anything to stop the shadows, including risking her life—and the life of the one she loves—to keep the world from being lost to darkness forever.
14+ due to sexuality, language, and adult situations
A creeping tingle of coldness wound around my ankles. Something lived in there––the same things that took away my family and had stalked me for most of my life.
I didn’t have a name for them. In my head, I called them the Shadows: inky, black creatures that avoided the light, like I avoided the dark. They did things. Things that made monsters like Hitler look warm and fuzzy—or at least, less homicidal.
How they did it confounded me, but they had the ability to influence the darkness in people, to make them do terrible things. The Shadows got something from it, as if they fed from humanity’s malevolence. I’d tried to learn more about them since I realized no one else could see them, but they didn’t exist in any book, Web page, or library.
The only thing I could conclude was that they were otherworldly evil, pure and simple.
It didn’t help that lately the Shadows had been more focused on me. I’d seen more in the last few months than I had in my whole life, and they had been acting stranger than normal. They were up to something.
Plotting how to kill me, and everyone I love. I’d been so stupid not to figure that out.
As if hearing my thoughts, the Shadow sensed my presence. It crept forward to the mouth of the alleyway, a darker blotch of oily blackness that moved of its own volition. A fine tendril rose from its black mass, reminding me of a periscope on a submarine, searching.
“Crap.” I glanced around for the best way to escape. No way I could outrun the thing.
The Shadow moved into the open. Skirting the light, coming ever closer. Picking up speed. I had to get away. Now.
My heart began beating double-time and my feet froze to the ground.
A part of me wanted to step on it, like a giant slug, but it wouldn’t do anything. They couldn’t be killed that way.
I would give anything to know if I could get rid of them, to wipe them from the face of the earth. But they didn’t die. Didn’t disappear. Didn’t leave me alone.
There was nowhere to hide. They’d kill me. Just like they did my family.
Glancing at the car in front of me, my panicked laugh caught me by surprise.
Another entry for my rap sheet.
Careful to keep in the light, I hurried around to the driver’s side. Scooping up the keys, I threw myself behind the wheel. My fingers trembled as I shoved the key into the ignition.
The Shadow lurked near my door. I spared it one glance before the engine caught with a merciful roar and I slammed my foot on the gas.
The tires squealed and a trail of smoke hid the Shadow. The snaking chill, as I always felt from them, gave way and I knew I had left it behind.
There would be more, though. There were always more.
Loved the unique Shadows. The story’s progress had me guessing (usually wrong) the entire time. Good escalation of events. Great dynamics between the characters and believable motivation. Well done
Not to give too much a way, but sure seems to be a good book to show how sometimes you just have to work with those you really don't like. Also I wonder if there is a sequel in there somewhere!!
Loved the unique Shadows. The story’s progress had me guessing (usually wrong) the entire time. Good escalation of events. Great dynamics between the characters and believable motivation. Well done.
~~RECEIVED FOR AN HONEST REVIEW~~ First time ever reading anything written by Meradeth Houston and all I can say is WOW!!! Fast paced seat gripping on the edge type of read! Once you start it's very hard to put down once you start! Each page takes you on a ride of fast heartbeats and what the hells...If you have not picked this book up yet, you will want to make sure you do!
If Shakespeare had written paranormal YA (well, he almost did – what about the ghost in Macbeth?), he might have written ABSENCE OF LIGHT by Meradeth Houston. Why Shakespeare? Because he had the gift of drawing characters that were multifaceted – there were no villains in his plays who were evil, through and through, with no redeeming characteristics. Houston is up to her usual artistry here, creating characters that you empathize with in one moment, and then, in the next moment, you question your earlier assessment. The hinge of the plot depends on the evil (or so we think), black, oily Shadows, who have killed the feisty protagonist Leah's family. But, (no spoilers, here) there is more to the Shadows that we see at first glance. Be prepared to be surprised – and to enjoy Houston's trademark sassy/savvy protagonist's voice and her command of vivid place and action descriptors. If you like paranormal with smarts, snap this one up!
This story pulled me in from the very first scene. Leah's entire family has been murdered and only she knows who is responsible. No one else can see the shadows—or so Leah thinks. She flees, not wanting to be blamed for the deaths of her family members, and winds up finding a group of people who can see the shadows like she can. Only they seem to be more prepared to fight the shadows. There is a love story here, but it never overshadows (ugh, really bad pun) the story. There's plenty of action to keep you glued to the pages. And I loved the twist with one shadow in particular. No spoilers but I didn't see that coming and thought it was a nice touch. It definitely pulled Leah out of her comfort zone. I also give Houston kudos for being able to surprise me. I tend to figure plots out very quickly, but she kept me guessing. This is a great book for sci-fi fans. It's dark, action-packed, emotional, and fast-paced. I had a hard time putting it down.
I've never read anything from this author before and I was glad I gave this book a chance. It was brilliant with relatable characters and a unique plot. I don't know why everyone doesn't know about this book. I loved it and I can't wait to read more. I hope there is more.
Leah Madison is exceptional. She started college at age 16, after all. She sees things that others don’t. She senses things that are invisible to most. Unfortunately, what she sees and senses are … well, unbelievable, to society at large. And these things have murder on the mind. Leah’s extraordinary gifts are not enough to save her family. Nor are they enough to keep her from being implicated in their deaths, and ultimately driven towards a fateful confrontation that will determine the destiny of the entire human race. What she sees—what she senses, can even talk to—are “Shadows.” They live among us, but they are not native. They know all about Leah, and her gifts. They do not wish to kill her—not yet, anyway. Because they need answers, too. This is the stage upon which AN ABSENCE OF LIGHT, by Meradeth Houston, is set. To give away any more secrets (as the cliché goes) would be a crime. Suffice it to say, O Reader, when you crack back the cover and unveil the first page, you’d better be ready to GO—because you’ve just embarked upon a science fiction-horror novel that hits the pavement like a stolen BMW with back tires squealing, leaving blackened, shadowy tread marks over your unsuspecting brain and heart. Keeping the “secrets” sacred, however, I will tell you this: You will accompany Leah to a sanctuary, in the form of a gas station, where she will make new friends—and something like family—even as she learns how to battle the evils that ruined her earlier life. Here, she may even fall in love again, if only for a moment. And you’ll fall in love with Leah, but not because she is perfect. Far from it, she’s actually moody, often snippy, and at times indecisive. But people confide in her, and she never betrays—even when it might be in her best interests to do so. She tells the truth, at least as she sees it. In a word, she’s decent, and the reader roots for her. This book is rife with desperate action. Just when you feel like you might get a break from it—after an especially tender scene, for instance, or even following the book’s essential set-piece climax—a new complication arises. Yet, there is a resolution. AN ABSENCE OF LIGHT is a story unto itself, while at the same time leaving the possibility that there may be more of this story for Ms. Houston to tell. If so, Houston, we don’t have a problem.
I loved this book. Adventure, suspense, romance it has it all. The main character has alot of courage. I didn't want to put the book down. Meradeth is amazing author. Highly recommended this book.
I'm a fan of Ms. Houston's previous "Sary" series. Very well-written and entertaining. But, I have to say, this is Ms. Houston's most accomplished work yet. Suspenseful, unpredictable, romantic, very empathetic characters. Can't go wrong. Leah's battling demons, inner and outer. Mostly outer, but they're to blame for her inner demons. The shadow creatures killed her family. She seeks salvation, survival. She finds temporary shelter. But will it last? Read the book, find out. The novel kept me chugging along through the night to find out how it'd end. Loved it. Recommended.