CW’s: Ableist Slurs, Mild Gore
To the outside world Shadow Falls is just an ordinary camp for troubled teens nestled deep in the woods. But the kids at Shadow Falls are far from ordinary. They’re supernatural. And from the moment high school student Kylie Galen enters this world of fairies, vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters, she’s had one burning question: What am I? With her new powers, new friends, and two sexy paranormal boys vying for her attention, Kylie’s whole world is about to change. A spectacular debut from author C. C. Hunter, the Shadow Falls series follows Kylie as she learns to control her powers, confront her heritage, and face her destiny.
Beware: Spoilers Ahead!!!
📚 Kylie Galen aka Matchmaker. Overall, I liked Kylie, but at first I didn’t love her like the other characters. I felt her pain at feeling abandoned and not wanting to believe that she was different at first. The more the books on the more I actually liked her, as I loved the storyline about her feeling like she belongs in Shadow Falls but also still very much feeling on the outside. I loved that we got to see her journey about figuring out who she was and finally being able to truly belong anywhere, as she never belonged with any other species. That really made me connect to her and I really felt bad for all her romance troubles, sometimes I would have liked to protect her from her from everyone. Kylie is actually pretty nice and caring, which later results in her being quite popular among the campers and having lots of friends.
📚 Della Tsang aka Kickass Vanpire. My favorite snarky vampire that has gotten her own spin-off! I LOVE that Della is a Burnett fan (the scene where she talks about hormones and Holiday having the hots of Burnett & lets him walk in on it) and I feel so sorry for her guilt. Her storyline was also about finding out what she did during her blackout when she became vamp, but nothing came up. Still I cannot believe how hard it must have been for her, especially with her ex moving on and her family thinking that she is a troubled teen who probably took drugs. She cannot tell them the truth and it really makes it hard for Della to be around them. She’s always super kickass, stern, stubborn and ready to attack if you bullshit her! I kind of want Burnett to be her mentor, but maybe that’s what happens in the spin-off. It’s hard to truly talk about Della, because I lover her so much, she’s a strong girl, who’s the definition of hard on the outside and soft on the inside! I also do like that romance wasn’t a large part of her storyline so far.
📚 Miranda Kane aka Cheerful Witch. Miranda is pretty insecure in the group and I relate so hard, as it can be difficult being a trio and feeling quite left out. Especially her strict parents contribute to her feeling like a freak and out-of-place, because they place all these expectations on her. Most of it stems from her being dyslexic, which is not accepted in the witch community. However, with Kylie’s help she gets better so she can do her spells! I love that Miranda is always optimistic, giggly and a pretty open person. She might bicker with Della a lot, because she doesn’t really get her like Kylie, but even those two care about each other. It’s really hard not to like Miranda, because I see her struggles with herself and I definitely like that she gets more confident throughout these books. She was talking a lot about Perry, when she got together with him, but at least she never abandoned her friends.
📚 Holiday Brandon aka Fierce Redhead. I love my red-headed fae! Holiday is the stubborn head of the camp (in the first book alongside with the were Sky and later with Burnett) and she cares about everyone a lot. Holiday is always willing to give people another chance and fought for Frederika to be taken in, because she knew that the were had no other safe place to go. She’s also always there for Kylie from the right beginning and tries so hard to help her discover what exactly she is. I love how she is willing to hear Kylie out all the time, no matter in what situation and how she offers some life advice. I couldn’t love my fierce lady more, because she surely won’t let anyone take the camp or Kylie away from her. She’s caring, she’s brave and she will definitely stand in for what is right.
📚 Burnett James aka Big Bad Vampire. I love my dark, broody vampire!!! Burnett is your typical dark, tall and handsome vampire, who is super kickass and not one for huge emotions. However, right from the start he cares about the camp and is not willing to let it go, even when Holiday is not a huge fan of him. However, his loyalty to the FRU is getting harder and harder, especially when Kylie asks him what they want to be hiding, as they have lots of ugly secrets as well. But at the end of the day he’s a good guy even when things are complicated and he is torn between where his loyalties lie. In the end we figure out that they lie with the people he cares about, as he would never but the camp in any danger. Burnett even blackmails the FRU so that Kylie is safe. Even though he tries to be all logical and unfeeling, he has a huge heart and would protect the campers with his life – Burnett even lets himself be hugged and later kind of becomes the dad of the campers.
📚 The Love Triangle. This is probably my least favorite element of the story, so prepare for a longer discussion. I have very mixed feelings about Kylie’s romances, because both Derek and Lucas annoyed me a lot at times with how they were acting. I do give C.C. Hunter credit for actually making me root for both of them and getting conflicted, because at least this is what I expect from a love triangle. However, I cannot say that I would have been happy with Kylie ending up with either of the boys. She did chose Lucas in the end, but even their relationship has lots of issues with him being very possessive and pushing her to get back together. I heard their relationship is more stable in the spin-off, but as of right now it’s very precarious.
“Why was it that boys said girls were so hard to understand when she hadn’t known a single guy who hadn’t confused her to the point of screaming?”
Lucas Parker. At first I rooted for him as he was the sweet childhood friend, but then I got annoyed with his posessiveness and how he held himself to different standards than Kylie. While I liked him at first, I cannot really ship him with Kylie after what he pulled off in books 4 and 5, because too much of his pushy behavior bothered me. Their relationships definitely wasn’t healthy with all the games, secrets and agendas that came between them. They could potentially move to a more stable place at the end of book 5, when he finally got on the council and could be with Kylie, but I won’t really say that I’m glad with how the love triangle was solved.
✅ Hey, here’s a snarky character from the past
- I liked that he was friendly to her at first and I was a fan of them having a history of being childhood friends. That’s why I had hope for both of them, because they already had known each other and I liked that this was something that connected them. Generally I love snarky characters, so I didn’t dislike Lucas at first and actually found him to be way more interesting than Derek ever has been. He had more substance to him.
- I have to give it to Lucas: he at least had reasons behind his annoying actions that I will discuss later. However, they can only explain why he did all the games and secrets that kept Kylie feeling like things were not right and not excuse what he was willing to do. I liked that Lucas was so close with his grandmother and tried very hard to make the lives of younger werewolves different. This was especially important to him because he was raised by rogues and would have been shunned if it had not been for his grandmother. He even goes out of his way to keep his half-sister from the werewolf gangs so she can live a better life! So I do get his reasons, but I wish he wouldn’t have acted like a jerk until the very last-minute, it would have actually made me root for him.
- I actually really missed Lucas when he was away after the fist book, his letters are heartfelt and later we find out that he never had a thing with Frederika and was just trying to save his sister. Another thing I have to admit: he’s also way better at just being friends than Derek, because he cares for her and actually tries to understand her. He becomes a safe place for her and while I appreciate his concern, it still made his protective alpha male modus annoying.
- Another thing that drew me more to Lucas is that he knew what he wanted and was not as unsure about things like Derek was, therefore, I rooted for him shortly, because Derek was so damn unsure about everything.
⛔️ Please stop acting like a jerk
- I felt like Lucas was wishing too hard for her to be a werewolf. He tries to say that it doesn’t matter if she is, but Kylie knows it’s not as easy.
- I don’t like how he is so Anti-Ghost and for my taste he is too protective and possessive. It annoyed be beyond end how he was always trying to tell her not to put herself in danger. Another thing that annoyed me is how he dislikes Derek talking to Kylie while he still stays together with Frederika. It’s pretty hypocritical, because he actually slept with her and still insists that she is pack, but when Kylie is with a guy she likes he doesn’t like it. He feels like his being is natural but Kylie’s ghost ability is not? Just because she is not a werewolf does not mean that she is not allowed to be loyal to her friends and that her ability is somehow less normal.
- The entire Werewolf Drama with Lucas was driving me to despair. He says he wants to try to overcome things and prejudices, but I feel like it’s almost impossible too with the opposition of so many people close to him and Kylie feeling like she always comes second. I hate how she begins to doubt if her emotions are valid, which just shows that right now there are too many things between them not working
- AND THEN Lucas just majorly fucked up and like … he lowkey cheated on her with this Monique?? Like he’s so arrogant and naive that he thinks he can get engaged, get out of it and then finally win is fathers approval? I hate this double game he was playing. At least he admits that he was wrong, but damn as if he would have been okay with Kylie doing something like that. Like why did he have to be such an ass??
- I wasn’t really happy with Lucas, because honestly I couldn’t much forgive him for his light cheating and the fact that he kept being so pushy. Like I get that he tried to reach forgiveness and did everything to make up for his mistake … but I hate this ‘We WILL get back together and you WILL forgive me and your heart BELONGS to me”. I hate his damn possessiveness and always trying to stop Kylie. He is always doing his mission, but not allowing that she does hers. I hated how he bothered her during training with sweet talking. Just shut up boy. I hate it when guys insist they are going to get back together, like it’s a known fact the girl just has to accept. NO MEANS NO. If Kylie doesn’t want to ever get back together, it’s so. I hate how he always tried to convince her and how so many people tried to push Kylie to forgive him. Lucas is full of double standards and that bothered me. In the end he finally got on that damned council when Kylie gave him the ultimatum and said that she could not live with him giving everything up. I liked that he finally made his choice now and got shunned but still.
Derek Lakes. At first I was super pissed at his indecisiveness, because he didn’t know what he wanted and took it out on Kylie. Later, he got better and actually was there for her. By then it however was way too late, if he had known earlier what he wanted Derek would have actually been the one Kylie picked. Now he was left behind, but I still like how things between Kylie and him ended with them becoming friends and him moving on.
✅ A soft and understanding boy
- I like how Derek is helping her with the ghost issue, but I don’t like him pushing that she still cares for him. He left and now it’s his own fault that they are no longer together. He definitely understands her now and there are no people of his race holding him back like Lucas, but I’m still not a huge fan.
- Generally, I began to like him in books 4 and 5, when Lucas was annoying and dealing with his wolf problems. Derek was not put off by the ghosts and later he ended up becoming friends with Kylie.
- Derek & the new chameleon Jenny are getting together, which I like. After all he does deserve his happy ending and I love that Jenny was able to escape the horrible community and can now be at camp where her brother is.
⛔️ Make up your mind, boy!
- There was so much drama between them. I have no idea if I should grab my popcorn and watch or hit them over the head with something. I do get Kylie being freaked out by the feeling reading and hormones thing and wanting to stay away from Derek. I do like that he said he wouldn’t pressure her, but still that he thought about what would change her mind made me uncomfortable + the kisses aren’t really consensual, especially the one that shut her up. Kylie said she didn’t like it, but for me it should have been called out more. They are constantly fighting, be it about Lucas, the feelings or other things.
- Derek is getting on my nerves, he is so insecure because of Lucas and everything between them is too complicated. He was a jerk when he confronted Kylie about avoiding him, not seeing that she was not used to this new situation. Sure he’s the nice guy but he keeps getting pissed at her for no reason and thinks that Kylie cannot even look at another guy. It pissed me off when she told Kylie she had to ‘prove’ to him that she was no longer attracted to Lucas. He also implied that he could be attracted to others, because he was a guy, which is some serious double standards. Kylie at least was super pissed at that. Sure she has been very confused about her feelings herself, but Derek and her make things way too complicated.
“Jerk” Holiday muttered.
“I can hear you” he retorted from the other side of the wall.
📚 Holiday & Burnett. THIS MY FRIENDS IS MY NUMBER ONE OTP! Oh my I got so obsessed with them when I first read books 1-3, I love them!! I cannot express how much I shipped them from right the beginning and since I also shipped them 4 years ago, they will always have a special place in my heart! This is slow burn and hate-to-love done at its finest and best! I kind of want them to have their own books, but that’s sadly not going to happen. Therefore, I accepted what I got of them when I read these books and oh my those two made me want to get them together as badly as Kylie. I’m literally her trying to play matchmaker, because they make such a great couple! Holiday has trust issues because of her past when another vampire betrayed her, but Burnett is not giving up. He clearly cares about her and never gives up on her, he’s always there for the camp and for her. Here are my fave moment:
- Burnett signing as an investor, even though Holiday had other sponsor offers that she didn’t take because damn FEELINGS
- “She saves all her hostile emotions for me” – Hate to love at its finest
- Burnett doing the right thing and giving them leverage on the FRU. Him finding out about Holiday having sponsors before, but she picked him. More bickering, but Kylie slips out.
- Burnett wanting to tell getting turned into a kangaroo to Holiday himself to make her smile MY HEART. Holiday saying she is disappointed at Miranda … because she wasn’t there to see it xD
- I like the Holiday/Burnett implied make out, but things seem to be backtracking. I love how Burnett acknowledges that Kylie is famous for playing matchmaker with them!
- HOLIDAY IS HAVING A BABY. I found the hiccup thing to be so funny, and I’m really happy for her! I was feeling so sorry for her being not sure if she wanted to tell Burnett and the whole pregnancy test purchase going wrong. Burnett shot off, leaving her fearing the worst, but he got her flowers, because he was an idiot – her idiot I LOVE (1) MAN!!!! He’s afraid he won’t be a good father because he was in the foster system, but he will be an amazing dad!
- Then they marry so I AM HAPPY, my OTP IS CANON
“Friday morning, Kylie, Miranda, and Della, each carting suitcases, walked
the trail to meet up with their parents. They walked slowly, like condemned prisoners moving to their executions.
“I’m going to be peeing on a drug test stick every hour,” Della muttered.
Miranda sighed. “I’m going to screw up at my competition and my
mom is going to give me up for adoption.”
“I’m going to a ghost hunt,” Kylie added. Both girls looked at her.
Haven’t watched TVD in ages, but the friendships are similar!
📚 Kylie, Miranda & Della. I’m all here for Kylie’s friendship with her roomies! They are supporting each other and having daily chats at the kitchen table. Kylie is owning up for sticking with her ‘I’ll leave camp attitude’ in the beginning and afterwards these girls become her second family! They love each other so much and they are one of my all time favorite friendship trios! Here are some of my highlights!
- Della carrying Miranda and supporting Kylie when she goes to the falls, because they are friends. Della is always stepping in and fighting for her girls.
- I like that they consider Helen her friend and even grow to like Ellie!
- I love Della sticking up for Miranda and telling Kylie that her feelings were hurt by the rejection to really being a witch! The girls are ever-growing closer together, even they as they tend to fight a lot.
- Kylie deciding to leave ☹ Miranda was crying and Della refused to hug her. DELLA COMING running anyway and hugs her with tears in her eyes … MY HEART.
- Later they are back together, I hope we see more of them in the spinoff!
📚 Kylie & Holiday. Their friendship is so pure. They talked about boys and went to get ice cream pretty much in the first books, when their relationship was still new! Holiday starts out mentoring Kylie to figure out what she is and I loved how quickly they grew closer together and became best friends. Holiday is like the older sister that Kylie never had and always offers advice about her species problem and of course love and family. She always has Kylie’s back and I love their relationship so much with all the sessions they spent together. However, we also see problems in their relationships like Kylie spilling things to Burnett and then regretting it afterwards or in book 4 when Kylie is feeling like she opens up but Holiday doesn’t really do the same. At the end of the day though both always care about each other and Kylie manages to get her to consider Burnett! She literally becomes Holiday’s maid of honor and godmother of her unborn child, I’m so happy!!
📚 Kylie & her mother. They didn’t have the best relationship in the beginning, because Kylie thought her mom to be pretty heartless and cold, especially as she always liked her father more, who was now leaving without her. However, I love how they got closer together, especially with Kylie figuring out her real dad and finally managing to connect with her mother. Things aren’t always easy though when her mom begins dating John, who’s super creepy. I did feel for Kylie the entire time, because John was super rude to her and thinking he could tell her what to do. I felt her grief about feeling like he was taking away her mother and Kylie not liking him, because everything went way too fast. I’m just glad that things between them ended and her mom is now recovering from yet another heartbreak, from a man who used her to blackmail her daughter.
📚 Burnett & his campers. Burnett is quickly becoming everyone’s dad. He is reigning Lucas in and being like a father for Perry. We find out Perry actually was in the foster system because he was deemed ‘too difficult’ for his parents and he has known Burnett since he was six. I love their relationship, Burnett even lent him his car for the date. He is always sweeping in and saving the day and showing how much he truly cares about the campers. He might be awkward at giving hug, but Kylie is quickly growing on him and Burnett kind of becomes her father figure, despite the FRU still being a difficult topic between them. He’s the vamp that accidentally adopts all the campers, when he didn’t want to emotional attachment and I love him for that!
World-building & Themes
📚 The Races, Abilities & Prejudices. Of course I absolutely loved the world-building with the different races and the camp! We have lots of interesting elements such as the differences of supernaturals born at midnight and born after midnight as well as the rogues who are not legally registered. There is still so much to explore, but we do get a glimpse at the different abilities of the races and their personal cultures. I definitely liked the take on vampires not being dead, but it being a virus that breaks out when you get in contact with another vamp! I also loved that the brain patterns are how you can figure out the species of someone and how they have different forms depending on what supernatural you are! Of course there are also rivalries between the species and prejudices that largely impact the story. Overall, I cannot wait to get even more into this world in the spin-off!
📚 Chameleons & Feeling Different. I didn’t like the other chameleons from the beginning, even the grandpa because he was so controlling and always telling Kylie that her found family wasn’t her real family and that she belonged somewhere else, when she clearly didn’t think so. I was so glad she escaped right in the beginning and got back to Shadow Falls (with Jenny’s help and later the ghosts help who held off Mario), because I feared that she would stay with them for longer. But I’m glad that Kylie found them and finally could feel like she belonged. Too long she felt like the freak at camp, because her pattern was not like it should be, making her the walking topic of gossip. No matter how many friends she found, Kylie felt different and like she wasn’t one with a certain group. I liked that the book explored the feeling of being different from everyone else and that in the end Kylie managed to get the Chameleons recognized. Now she no longer has to sit alone in the camp and can slowly truly belong. But like Kylie also says, your species shouldn’t dictate with whom you come into contact!
📚 Finding your Quest. There is a lot of talk about finding your quest, something Holiday always preaches to Kylie and that plays a big role. She thinks that everyone here at camp has something to fulfill and a goal that they have to keep working towards. For Kylie it started out with trying to figure out what she was and continued with helping the chameleons who stayed in hiding and isolated their young ones from everyone else! I liked the idea that everyone has a personal quest that they can focus on!
📚 Antagonists: The Rogues & The FRU. The Rogues and the FRU are the main antagonists with the former being more of a threat. They appeared towards the end of each book, but there were clues of their presence in the entire book. I liked them as Antagonists, but the focus was more on Kylie and the other characters. Also: I KNEW JOHN WAS WEIRD, turns out he’s Mario’s son! In the end, Kylie is setting out to face both of them with her sword. I admit that this finale isn’t about a big showdown, we spent less than 10 pages with the battle, but the Series always has been more about characters than action. Kylie kills them, informs everyone else and finally comes clean to her mom with the help of her dad who becomes a death angel.
📚 The Ending was perfect! It’s Holiday’s wedding with Burnett, I could not have dreamed up a better way to end it with Kylie being her maid of honor and later the godmother of the child. Everyone is coming together, even her mom and things with Lucas are finally settled. He is on the council and gives her a ring to get married later when they are mature. The Series doesn’t end with a bang, but it ends in a way that I’m very satisfied!
“She couldn’t help but think that today might just be the best day of her life”
The Problematic Things
📚 Consent could have been handled better. This is especially connected to kissing, because at one point Derek shuts Kylie up with a kiss and it bothered me so much. Kylie objects but she doesn’t call him out nearly enough, Derek deserved more of a backlash for doing this, because it makes my blood boil. Therefore, the consent when it comes to kisses definitely is a bit wonky and not as good as it could have been.
📚 Elements of Slutshaming & Female Rivalry. There are lots of female friendships, but still there are elements of girl hate that bothered me. This especially happens whenever another girl is romantically interested in a boy who Kylie etc. like. I didn’t like from the beginning how Kylie referred to Trey’s ex as ‘screw-toy’ and ‘slut’ when he was the one who broke up with her. Why bring the other girl into this and slut-shame her? Furthermore, I’m super annoyed at the light slutshaming of Ellie, especially as every girl who is involved with Lucas or Derek is automatically the enemy. Same with Ellie, Kylie totally goes off on her, which was really unfair. Later it also includes Nikki, the girl that is interested in Perry, not to mention Frederika, Kylie’s main enemy. Granted, the latter finally make up later, but they hate each other for a long while. Also: Why is the word bitch used so often by Kylie to describe how she is acting? It bothered me, because having feelings and expressing them is not ‘being a bitch’!
My Favorite Quotes
- “Our heats want the good to win. We’re still afraid, we still make mistakes, but if we listen to what our hearts want, we will find the right way.”
- “When one door closes, find another.”
Kylie gazed back up. “And what if there isn’t another door?”
“Then you try the window.”
“And if there’s not a window?” Kylie asked.
“Then you find a sledgehammer and make a window.”
- “Was this adulthood? To wake up every day and know it would bring both good and bad? To do things you had to do, even if you wished you didn’t have to do them”
- “Every new day was about opportunities. You couldn’t always control life, just your response to it.”
- “While it was nice to have someone like you around, a person’s pattern shouldn’t dictate who you welcomed into your life, or at your lunch table.”
Are you a fan of the Shadow Falls Series? Do you like C.C. Hunters other books? 📚