Twisted Pretty Things (Shadows of London 1) by Ariana Nash | Book Review

Something wicked is moving in the shadows of London…

In the underground world of glitzy illegal auctions, fast cars, and stolen magical artifacts, John “Dom” Domenici knows he’s out of his depth. But he needs the job at Kempthorne & Co like he needs to breathe. The alternative—going back to the organized crime gangs of London’s East End—is unthinkable.

So when Alexander Kempthorne, boss of Kempthorne & Co Artifact Retrieval Agency, wants him on a special case to track down an illegal artifact dealer, Dom can’t say no.

It shouldn’t matter that Kempthorne’s world is full of deadly secrets. It shouldn’t matter that the billionaire is sexy as sin, and it really shouldn’t matter how there’s an American agent stalking Dom, an American who knows more than he should about Dom’s case, including the real reason Alexander Kempthorne hired Dom.

The only thing that really matters to Dom is solving the case and finding the artifact dealer. Because there are worse things in London than a conflicted billionaire and a trigger-happy American. Something wicked is stalking London’s streets, and if Dom doesn’t stop it, its shadows will rise and consume them all.

How was it?

I was looking forward to this book as soon as I saw the cover. Yes, I picked this one because the cover intrigued me and because I figured it was an urban fantasy story. However, I didn’t expect it to be quite as unsettling as it is. I was as confused as Dom – our main character – was for much of the book. Not only there’s a mystery at play, the investigation of which didn’t exactly grab me. Then the way magic or “tricks” are explained and portrayed here took some getting used to.

The people who have or can use “tricks” – the latents –  very much sounded like a bunch of addicts, who were born into an addiction that they could barely control, which was sad. But then on top of that, there are artifacts that are like an irresistible fix all these latents crave. Latents are drawn to them, acting like addicts trying to fight their urges. So yeah it’s a bit weird, but the most f’d thing in this story might be Dom who’s always finding excuses for Alexander Kempthorne, his boss, and the one he’s pinning for. It was sad and infuriating at times. I wasn’t rooting for that relationship, more like praying for him to move on, yet at the same time, I didn’t trust the other option at f’ing all.

By that alone, you can glimpse at the roller-coaster of emotions this book is, I’d say it’s a bit of a slow and searing burn when it comes to romance but what’s in there doesn’t feel like endgame to me, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Dom ends up with someone else. When it comes to the mystery, some answers are given, enough to tentatively make me want to read the follow-up, but that next book better deliver.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Twisted Pretty Things is available on The Book Depository and other book retailers near you.

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