Shatterproof, by Xen Sanders
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: September 5, 2016
Rating 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Saint’s afraid to die. Grey can’t stand to live.
Grey Jean-Marcelin wants to die. He thought painting his passion—vivid portrayals of Haitian life and vodou faith—would be enough to anchor him to this world. But it isn’t. And when the mysterious man known only as Saint saves Grey from a suicide attempt, it’s more curse than blessing—until Grey discovers that Saint isn’t just an EMT. He’s a banished fae, and can only survive by draining the lives of those he loves.
All Saint needed was a simple bargain: one life willingly given for another. But as Saint’s feelings for Grey grow deeper, centuries of guilt leave him desperate to save a man who doesn’t want salvation, even if Grey’s life means Saint’s death.
When Grey’s depression consumes him, only he can decide if living is worth the struggle. Yet his choice may come too late to save his life . . . or Saint’s soul. And whatever choice he makes, it may shatter them both.
Character of Color (Haitian)
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Xen Sanders, author. I’d read his previous works under the penname Cole McCade to mixed results (loved Second Chance at Paris, ambivalent on The Lost). And in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m on familiar terms with the author on social media. So yeah, enter Xen Sanders, a nom de plume created for his paranormal/SFF works, and I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for.
That is to say, I was completely and utterly unprepared for the haunting love story that is Shatterproof.
The early excerpt I’d read on the publisher’s website was dark, offering little hint of the beauty and vibrancy stamped throughout the book. The name on the jacket might be different, but I think fans of Cole McCade will immediately recognize his distinct voice in the highly evocative prose and wry humor contained within. The author’s lyrical style is still recognizable but also restrained – more discerning, somehow – perhaps to reflect the darker undertones of the book.
Yes, the book contains elements of the paranormal – of vodou and Celtic lore, ancient curses and Faustian-like bargains. And as much as these otherworldly elements fascinated me, I’m glad that they drove the plot without overwhelming the overall story. While these supernatural elements definitely captured my interest and drew me in, it was Saint and Grey who had me completely captivated.
“My name is Saint,” he said,
“and I kill everyone I love.”
The opening line, which set the perfect tone for the entire book, also served as a great introduction to the lost soul that is Saint. Saint, in short, is a mystery – even to himself. He was not the cold-hearted predator I’d expected from the blurb – he displayed a vulnerability and loneliness that evoked my sympathy from the very start. And then there’s Grey, a celebrated artist of Haitian descent who is just as lonely, and in many ways more vulnerable because of his mortality. Their undeniable chemistry was a joy to witness – a living, breathing thing made even more tangible in the lush Savannah setting.
I thought that Shatterproof offered a fractional but intimate glimpse into depression through Grey’s eyes (and in some ways, Saint’s eyes as well). That Grey is a man of color is of particular significance, as depression and suicide are not topics easily broached within the black community. Overall, I thought the author approached this weighty topic in a realistic manner – ie. day-to-day with no magical solution. I felt like I was able to relate to Grey without being completely mired in despair. If anything, even in its darkest moments, the story resonated with hope and love.
The only stumble in this book for me was the ending, which closed on a somewhat cheesy note in an attempt to bring Saint’s character to full circle. And okay, maybe I thought the physical exchange leading up to that moment was a bit understated to the point of being anticlimactic. But these little nitpicks were hardly enough to shake off the spell this book cast over me. I look forward to the next release by Sanders, particularly if he continues in this vein of paranormal romance.
Xen Sanders is a New Orleans-born Southern boy without the Southern accent, currently residing somewhere in the metropolitan wilds of the American Midwest. He spends his days as a suit-and-tie corporate consultant and business writer, and his nights writing genre-bending science fiction and fantasy tinged with a touch of horror and flavored by the influences of his multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual background—when he’s not being tackled by two hyperactive cats. He wavers between calling himself bisexual and calling himself queer, but no matter what word he uses, he’s a staunch advocate of LGBTQIA representation and visibility in genre fiction.
He also writes contemporary romance and erotica as Cole McCade. And while he spends more time than is healthy hiding in his writing cave instead of hanging around social media, you can generally find him in these usual haunts:
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Twitter: @thisblackmagic
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/xen.cole
• Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/ColeMcCadeBooks
• Website & Blog: http://www.blackmagicblues.com
You can purchase Shatterproof at:
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.