4 out of 5
Title: Schade of Night
Author: J.P. Wilder
Genre: Supernatural/Horror Thriller
“Shade of Night” by J.P. Wilder is a supernatural/horror thriller that pits the titular character, Schade Lee, against the demonic forces of a brutal psychopath murderer, and also the Sentinels who protect the rest of us from these unseen forces.
Schade is an ex-FBI agent turned Private Investigator hired to find a kidnapped girl named Kylie Berson. From the beginning, it is clear that Schade is different and that there is an explicit connection between her, Kylie, and the supernatural Nathaniel Wicken. Through dreams, Schade catches glimpses of Kylie’s next location and the murderous path she is on with Wicken. As she finally draws near, her rescue of Kylie is thwarted by members of the Sentinels who capture Schade in an effort to explain exactly what is at stake. Kylie is just a ploy. Wicken is the real threat, a werewolf-like being that grows in power every day, and Schade is on the cusp of her own Transition in short order.
But Schade also has her own internal demons to battle and giving up on Kylie means reliving the loss of another girl years before. She just can’t let that happen.
Author Wilder brings to life a much bigger world of the occult than we are used to seeing lately. The usual trend is vampires and werewolves, but Wilder puts all of that in the broad scope of an encompassing magical world where good is constantly assaulted by real evil through a weak portal to the underworld. In his hidden dark world, we struggle against all of the supernatural elements: evil humanoid beasts, zombies in the original historical intent, powerful witches, and demons. It’s refreshing and, with a bigger story world, Wilder is free to build.
The pacing of the story was good. The action continued to move forward throughout and the suspense built continually from scene to scene. I also enjoyed the strong emotions in the characters, and they were all likable, though some more than others. I liked that this had some elements of the typical supernatural thriller, but stayed original by not classifying the nature of the beasts. Something like werewolves, but a more intricate design was at work. Basically, a broader Good vs. Evil as opposed to Humans vs Werewolves. This would have made a perfect Buffy story arc back in the day. Speaking of which, I like books where I can visualize the action as if it played on the big screen in my head, and this story did that. It could easily be adapted as a screenplay and would make a pretty good movie.
There is also plenty of adult content which I found to lend credence to the characters. Even the good guys aren’t so good, and they behave appropriately to who they are. I don’t mind erotic elements in a story, and there was certainly plenty of lust throughout, but it was just enough – explicit enough to feel realistic, but still left some to the imagination. And used to move the story along instead of just gratuitous.
Despite all the good things, there were a few things that I didn’t particularly like. I found it to be repetitive in parts, especially with some descriptions. There was a lot of deep-seeded lust throughout, and it felt that every time it came up there was a line about how beautiful or handsome the object of desire was without any real description. A couple of times it felt the story stalled to prolong the climax. Perhaps it could have wrapped up much earlier, but it was only a minor thing and I still stayed up way too late a few nights wanting to see what happened next.