Series Review: Shadow Falls by C.C. Hunter (spoiler free!)

A cute paranormal romance series with humorous and touching moments alike, appropriately hot love interests, and a surprisingly emotional writing style.

3.5/5 stars

Amazon Description of Born at Midnight (book 1)

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever.  Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.”  Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either.  Or does she?  They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason.  As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas.  Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past.  Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

My Review

I was going to review each book in this series individually, but then I realized that I would be saying basically the same thing five times, so I’m doing a series review instead.

I first read this series freshman year (before I started 52 Letters) and I remember loving it, even though I wasn’t very impressed by the writing or the plot. Having reread the series, my reaction hasn’t changed very much, though I appreciate the emotional power of the writing more.

The Shadow Falls series is fun. The plots are light-hearted but tense, designed to make you laugh as they build-up to each book’s dark climax. It was easy to binge-read these books: the plots were just dramatic enough to be impossible to put down, with just enough humorous scenes to keep a smile on my face.

I appreciated the fact that each book clearly has its own plot and can stand on its own, but also that the characters and their relationships with each other clearly grow and develop from one book to the next. New characters are added with a graceful touch that adds to the series without massively changing its mood. The continual mystery of Kylie’s supernatural identity changed enough with each book that it didn’t get old but still kept me reading, needing to know the truth.

I love all the characters. It was easy for me to relate to Kylie–a girl who keeps finding herself in waaay too deep and who frequently just wants to ignore her problems. Kylie isn’t the classic YA badass–the go-getter who tackles every problem that comes her way–but she’s realer. Some of her problems are romantic, other are deeply personal, while still others deal with supernaturals out to kill her–but all of her reactions are realistic. For once, I honestly felt like I could be Kylie, which added an incredible layer of relatability and emotional connection to the series.

The rest of the characters begin one-dimensional but develop into unique personalities as the series goes on. Kylie’s roommates, Miranda and Della, never failed to add humor to the scenes, but they also served as down-to-earth touchstones for some of Kylie’s most emotional moments. Della–the sarcastic vampire with sore pride and a dirty mind–was definitely my favorite character, and I can’t wait to read her spin off series, Shadow Falls: After Dark.

There are a lot of side characters, but I never got them confused (miraculously). CC Hunter deserves props for keeping all of the side characters distinct from each other and for giving each of them their own plots. I loved getting to see all of the other campers fall in love–this is undeniably a romance-centric series, but it’s done well.

The romance is…exactly what you’d expect from a paranormal story like this. Two insanely hot guys falling for Kylie, with Kylie stuck falling for both of them. Lots of awkward moments and sweet interactions, with just the right amount of steamy scenes. Honestly, the love triangle was done in a way that it didn’t destroy the series for me; on the contrary, it was one of the most entertaining parts of the series to read.

I was happy with the guy Kylie ended up with, especially because CC Hunter didn’t wait until the last moment of the series to “choose”–the reader actually gets to spend some time with the “winning” couple, knowing that they will last. While this was one of the only unique parts of the romance plot, I appreciated it a lot because it took the emphasis of the series away from LOVE TRIANGLE and focused it more on just telling a romantic story.

I am conflicted about the writing of the series. The series is definitely fun to read, and the writing style contributes to the light and quick-paced feeling. However, there is nothing special or breath-taking about the writing. It lacks poetry, it isn’t dying to be quoted. The series’ themes are simple and honest, but don’t expose any deep revelations about the human condition.

On the other hand, the writing style manages to get the reader to feel Kylie’s emotions incredibly deeply. I was taken aback by how connected to Kylie’s character I felt–I was caught up in her emotional thunderstorm for all five books–especially because the series is written in third person.

My main disappointment with this series is its lack of originality. The paranormal creatures that attend the Shadow Falls camp are the regular suspects with few variations: werewolves, vampires, witches, faes, etc. The truth of Kylie’s identity was the most “wow” moment of the series, and one of the only plot points that felt 100% unique. The romantic plot lines follow beaten paths; the side characters fulfill the usual roles: quirky BFF, maternal/sisterly mentor, the dark but attractive love interest, the boy-next-door-type who wants the best for Kylie.

None of this is to say that the series is bad–it’s great. But its greatness is tempered by the fact that I’ve experienced it before. I love it when authors shock me with new ways of storytelling, with new ways of describing emotions and relationships, with new characters for me to fall in love with. These books will make you laugh and they’ll give you a lot of feels, but they don’t break any barriers. I would recommend them to fans of the paranormal genre who need a pick-me-up.