Shade Cursed

M.D. Massey

Rating: 2 out of 5.

As a baby, Crowley was abducted by the fae, a changeling taken to Underhill and given to the powerful sorceress Fuamnach to raise and train. Now a powerful shadow mage, he has escaped the fae and, despite being on the run from Fuamnach, has settled in Austin, Texas, from where he occasionally aids the druid, Colin McCool, at the behest of his ex-lover, Belladonna. When he stumbles upon a plot that may be related to his own abduction, Crowley has to investigate, even though doing so may put him back in the fae’s crosshairs again.

Moving on from the Colin McCool Junkyard Druid series, Massey has switched to a new series within the Druidverse, this time centring on the shadow mage, Crowley. Having read the full dozen Colin McCool novels, plus all the related prequels, novellas, and short stories, I’ve come to know the characters pretty well, and I have to admit that Crowley is probably the last character I would have chosen as a leading role candidate.

Unfortunately, Shade Cursed hasn’t changed my mind. I get the impression that the Shadow Changeling series (which might be just a trilogy, depending on where you look for information) is supposed to be more serious. Massey’s blog suggests that he considers Crowley to be comparable to Walker Boh (Terry Brooks’ Shannara druid), Severus Snape (JK Rowling’s darkish wizard professor) and John Constantine (the cynical, chain-smoking, sweary, sorcerer anti-hero from the Hellblazer comics). Spoiler alert: he’s not. Not remotely.

Crowley is morally ambiguous and moody. Just in case we weren’t aware of this, we are constantly reminded of it throughout the narrative, to the point that I was rolling my eyes every time it came up. He has none of the depth of the three characters he’s being compared with, and definitely none of the wit of Constantine; instead, he’s self-obsessed and a bit of a dick. The other Druidverse characters who crop up seem out of true, too, which doesn’t help.

Sadly, I was rather underwhelmed by this new addition to the Druidverse. I just hope there’s more meat to the second instalment.

I received an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publication date – 8th March 2021

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