Review: Minutes Before Sunset, The Timely Death Trilogy #1
Author: Shannon A. Thompson
Genre: Fiction – YA
Eric Welborn is a dark Shade in a human world trying to cope with a prophecy that only he can fulfill. Jessica Taylor is new to the small town of Hayworth and has abilities that she doesn’t understand and can’t explain to anyone. They meet as Shades. Neither knows the other’s human name or form. Eric, as Shoman (his Shade name) begins teaching Jessica (Nameless Shade) who she really is, not realizing that doing so might not be in his best interest. Eric’s father is the leader of the dark Shades. A battle between dark and light Shades has raged for many years.
Ms. Thompson changed the traditional light versus dark archetype in this story. The ongoing battle isn’t explained until the reader is about three-quarters of the way through the book. The author reveals the story slowly. It would have been helpful to know more about the two Shade groups from the beginning.
The reader experiences the story through the two main characters: Eric and Jessica. This back and forth worked well for this book, and kept the story moving. The pacing picked up toward the end of the book.
Several chapters establish the growing relationship between Eric (Shoman) and Jessica. At times, this seemed artificial. Eric calls her the nameless shade. He’s developing a strong attachment, but doesn’t know her name. Jessica knows his Shade name, but not his human one, so it makes a bit more sense that she’s becoming attached to him as a Shade. Their amorous disposition seemed rushed.
The two engaged in banter in their human form that seemed above their ages. Jessica’s annoyance and impatience with Eric in the first several chapters isn’t believable. They don’t know each other well enough in the beginning to warrant some of her interactions with him.
The writer’s choice to use shades is an interesting one. Throughout literature shades are ghosts or a magic user or sorcerer possessed by a spirit or spirits (usually evil spirits). That’s not the case in this story: dark Shades are good and light Shades are bad.
Initially, I read this book from an adult’s perspective. It was challenging for me to get lost in the story. I set the book down several times. Then, I picked it up again, and decided I needed to get in touch with my inner young adult. I recalled what it was like being a high school student experiencing your first serious crush. I also remembered the way my friends and I talked to each other, and to adults: like we knew more than we really did. Reading the story from this perspective made the relationship, dialogue, and actions more believable.
The Take Away:
Ms. Thompson is constructing an interesting story that many young adults will enjoy. They’ll find the characters relatable. The pacing in the beginning of Minutes Before Sunset is slow, and it’s unclear what or who shades are, why they exist, what they can do, and why they can do it, but this becomes clearer later. As mentioned above, knowing more of this in the beginning would have been helpful and engaging. The fight scenes toward the end of this book are well-described. The story ends with a nice cliff-hanger.
The writing is good, and there are areas where the writer can improve, but this will naturally happen as Ms. Thompson continues her writing career and gains more life experience.
Seconds Before Sunrise is the second book in the trilogy. It will be interesting to see where Ms. Thompson takes the overall story.
Reviewer: Kori D. Miller
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