Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: November 27, 2012
Series or Standalone: Immortals After Dark #12; The Dacians #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
CW: Violence; gore; PTSD/panic attacks; kidnapping
I read this book back in April 2022, but I am just reviewing it now so forgive me if this is more high-level of a review than normal as I didn’t take as in-depth notes as I normally do!
Shadow’s Claim is book 12 in the Immortals After Dark series and also serves as book 1 in The Dacians series (a spinoff that is intertwined with IAD) and served as a nice change of pace to some of the really heavy storylines coming out of the Torture Island arc of IAD.
This book surprised me as I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it! The plot, the world, the romance, everything was so good!
After being attacked and losing her powers, half-Sorceri/half-Demon Bettina, heir to the Kingdom of Abaddon (a demon kingdom) agrees to her guardians’ suggestion that she marry the winner of a tournament and gain a champion protector. Trehan Daciano, known as the Prince of Shadows, serves as his hidden kingdom’s assassin, striking down those who pose a threat to the Dacian realm. When tracking down his latest target, he realized Bettina is his fated mate. But Bettina’s heart is set on another, and Trehan will need to win her heart as well as win the tournament for her hand and forsake his kingdom to be with her.
Shadow’s Claim served as the perfect introduction to the world of the Dacian, the secret vampire sect of mist and legend that we got a peek of in Lothaire. In terms of the timeline, the story does appear to overlap with some of the events of Lothaire, and we see Lothaire pop up, and a handful of other familiar faces appear in this one.
I loved the overall vibes of this story (very medieval/fairy tale). The tournament to the death for Bettina’s hand feels something straight out of Game of Thrones and lends this book a very cinematic feel. Yes, it’s incredibly old school and feels like it takes some of the agency away from Bettina in her choices, but I loved it. The tournament definitely raises the stakes in Trehan and Bettina’s relationship, and it’s filled with action and twists. Some of the tasks, particularly towards the end of the tournament, had me on the edge of my seat to see what would happen.
I absolutely loved the romance in this book, and I have Trehan to thank for that. This man! He is up there as one of my favorite IAD heroes as he’s willing to do anything to show how much he cares and loves his mate. He’s so romantic, even if his version of romance contains a lot of death, but it works for this world. In a book series with a lot of alphaholes, Trehan stands out for actually caring, listening and respecting his mate’s wishes. And as much as he would like to bang her right away, he didn’t take advantage of her and waited until she was ready. And when he messes up, he makes up for it – big time. He’s an assassin from a secret kingdom and willing to give up his family, his home, and his world to be with her. We love to see that sort of devotion.
I liked Bettina as well and felt so much sympathy for this girl. She has been through a lot. When we met her, she’s lost her Sorceri powers (akin to losing your soul) and was beaten to the point of nearly being killed by the Vrekeners. She feels helpless and powerless at the start – part of why she agrees to the tournament as she just wants to feel safe. I loved watching her grow over this book and regain her power and sense of herself. And yes, she can come across as incredibly innocent and naive at times – especially regarding her feelings towards Caspion (he’s the WORST), which did annoy me a bit – but I also understand why she was that way as she had a fairly sheltered existence thanks to an incredibly overprotective family. I also really loved her passion for creating jewelry and how her designs evolved after her attack to become weapons – it was a way for her to regain a piece of herself she lost and feel like she has the power to protect herself.
Overall, I found this an incredibly fun and romantic read, especially after reading Lothaire which I dubbed BONKERS (I stand by that). I know there is some controversy on the reading order for this book – some advocate for a publication order while others say to read this towards the end – but I stuck with the publication order as that felt right to me. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of the Dacians in future books as I cannot wait to learn more about them!