Review: Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer

June 16, 2014 4.5 stars, Book Review 36 ★★★★½

Review: Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee MoyerDelia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer
Series: Delia Martin #1
Published by Tor Books on Sep 17, 2013
Genres: Adult SFF, Historical Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
My Reviews in this series: A Barricade in Hell

A dark, romantic fantasy set against the backdrop of San Francisco devastated by the Great Quake...

It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.

Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.

It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again.

And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.


An atmospheric and outright haunting read, Delia’s Shadow was one of those books I did not want to put down. This story is set in San Francisco, 1915 – and from the moment we are introduced to Delia as she arrives back home to the city I knew that I wanted to know all about her story. She left San Francisco 3 years ago to live in New York because she could no longer handle living in a city overrun with ghosts from the big quake and fires. This tragedy took so many lives including those of her parents. But now she’s come home because she is tormented by a ghost that’s been haunting her the past 6 months. This ghost, she named Shadow, follows her everywhere and just seems to be getting stronger and stronger. While Delia has seen spirits her whole life none have effected her quite so much as this one. She realized she must return home to find out what happened to Shadow and see about laying her to rest.

Be wary of ghosts because they only seek to use you for their own ends!

Delia is really slow to learn this lesson. Ghosts were once people and like people they can be just as good or bad as any person. She however has a soft heart and tends to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. She is a strong character though and won’t just be run roughshod over. I adored this about her. She wants to help Shadow but she also won’t let her completely overwhelm her. Its a tough struggle but with the help of a more experienced spirit medium, Isadora she will learn more about her gift/curse and how to protect herself while still being able to help the ghosts as much as she can.

My suspicious nature runs rampant

A murder investigation was a macabre jigsaw puzzle, splashed with blood and the remnants of someone’s life. – pg 35

Murder and mysteries for me are always best when mixed with fantasy and the paranormal in some way. In fact I hink that most books have a slight mystery at their core and even at only a few pages in I’m always forming all these theories in my head about WHO DUN IT!? It’s one of the best parts of a true mystery book, determining it you can figure it out sooner than when the author starts dropping large hints. This particular mystery was gruesome. The serial killer has killed countless innumerable amount of people and some of his tactics reminded me of Jack the Ripper – but then what serial killer isn’t going to remind us of Jack? Anyways. More to the point – I was already jumping to conclusions by page 44 and I have to say I was most pleasantly surprised that I was totally wrong by the end.

Pray, save me from match making friends! *smirk – not really some match making friends are brilliant*

Now, I absolutely adore the cast of characters that were present in Delia’s Shadow. We have Delia, her best friend Sadie, who is much more like a sister because Sadie’s mother Esther took Delia in and raised her like her own after Delia’s parents died. Then there is the marvelous house keeper Anna. She is another mother figure and a good one at that. I’ve seen characters playing her role in past books I’ve read but I have to say I definitely love her character. The housekeeper/mothering figure that I don’t ever seem to tire of. Then there is Jack, Sadie’s fiance and Gabe the head detective working the serial killer case that they are all mixed up in. Gabe and Jack are partners investigating the crime and I thought it was very well done how things tied together and the mystery unfolded. The last key character is Isadora who is a dear friend of Sadie’s and also happens to be a spiritual medium. I thought her character was well placed as the “teaching” character that helps the main character learn to use their skills.

While there are some great characters things are kept simple by being told from the dual perspectives of Delia and Gabe. When this happens I generally already know upfront that hey – something between these two people is GOING to happen. Right? Right. Yes – so even though it’s obvious, it’s a GOOD kind of obvious. I definitely prefer dual perspective male/female books the best. I have to say I adore Gabe. He has had his fair share of heartbreak in life but then so has Delia (hell come to think of it – the whole city has what with that tragedy having taken so many lives) and it’s something they can both share and bond over but also isn’t the only thing that will tie them together. Their personalities were so perfectly suited to each other that I was hoping I would be right about the direction things would go. So Yes, the paranormal, horror, mystery, thrills and chills and touch of romance made me a total fan of this book.

Oh eery and beautiful San Francisco,  your windy streets haunt my dreams

The descriptive writing was perfect. I really felt like I was transported to that time and place. As someone that lives a short drive from San Francisco – I’ve visited the city many times and walked it’s streets. So reading about what it might have looked like 100 years ago was fascinating. From the parties, resturants, new automobiles and horse drawn buggies along with the Pan Pacific faire it was such a well done representation. I did have one question that I wonder if it’s true to how police departments operated – if anyone knows the answer to this please please let me know. Did police investigators back in the 1900’s make a habit of storing old crime evidence at their home residences and even after they retired? This was a point that just kept bugging me and I have no way really of knowing if that little detail was/is accurate.

Historical Fantasy and murder mystery readers will and should gobble Delia’s Shadow up. It has an amazing cast of characters that you can get behind and well formed relationships that are completely natural and an excellent reading pace. One minute I was on chapter one and the next I was 2/3rds of the way through. May I please have some more?

Update as of 6/17/14 – The author responded to my question that I posed to her on twitter!!

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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36 Responses to “Review: Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer”

  1. Jenny @ Supernatural Snark

    Ah! I really, really need to read this Tabitha! I’ve read nothing but glowing reviews for it, and my mother in law read it for the blog and loved it as well. I love when there’s a strong group of secondary characters, so I’m really looking forward to “meeting” Delia’s friends and housekeeper:) So glad to know you adored this one!

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Your mother in law read it and you didn’t!? I’m surprised she wasn’t able to convince you. I adored these characters. The dual perspective was perfectly done and it was nice because you got to know the side characters so well through those two main character’s eyes. It managed to be creepy and sad but also heartwarming and light in moments. I am loving this author already. I have the second and can’t wait to dive in as soon as I finish another book I’m halfway thru.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee MoyerMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yes! the female / male POV method is one I’m definitely finding I like the best. Not all writers can pull it off well though. This does have at least fie female characters and hey you are right all of them are pretty strong in character but each so different. I think it works well that we only see one of their perspectives. Too many and I think it would have overwhelmed the story. This was perfect.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee MoyerMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yes – folks that live or have lived in San Francisco don’t even call it that from what I hear they just call it “The City” or San Francisco. More so I’ve heard it called the city. Probably because its THE city in this part of California.

      She would definitely enjoy this one Nathan! Heck you probably would as well.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee MoyerMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I hope you do. I know what you mean about it might be your mood. That has happened to me quite a few times with books. Then I just shelve them in the hopes I’ll feel that mood for them later on. A few times when I’ve done that I would come back 6 months later and devour and love a book. but woe be to that book that I read and I’m not in the mood for. It might get ripped to shreds.
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  2. Mogsy

    This sounds great! I know it didn’t receive much attention when it came out, but all the reviews I’ve read of it have been quite positive. Ghosts and a mystery, I think I’ll have to make more of an effort to get a hold of this book!
    Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: Skin Game by Jim ButcherMy Profile

  3. Megan (Adrift on Vulcan)

    Heh, you definitely enjoyed this one a lot more than I did! But I definitely agree with you that this was a haunting book — I loved the whole ghost part of the plot, it helped spice things up a lot.

    The main problem I had with this was that it moved too slow for my liking (I just slogged through those 300+ pages), and I didn’t really like the writing style much ’cause it was awkward and bumpy. Then again, I read an ARC of it so it’s possible that the writing is much better in the published version! Of course, I’m not much of an adult reader, and I prefer YA books, so maybe I’m biased? Haha.

    Anyway, I’m glad that you got along well with this one! It was an interesting book for sure, but one that didn’t really gel with my personality, unfortunately. Lovely review, Tabitha, and thanks for stopping by my blog! <3

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Really it was slow for you? It wasn’t slow for me. I know there was plenty of slow parts where there wasn’t as much suspense or action just the plodding along of them trying to figure out the case but I really enjoyed that time because it allowed for character development between the characters. I read the final so I don’t know if it was different in the ARC.

      If you’re more of a YA reader then I think that is probably where the difference comes in. I love both adult and YA and they do have very different tones. I think the YA leans more heavily towards the action to keep pace moving along and some of the adult books I read don’t always have as much action (unless they are urban fantasy books those tend to be heavy on the action lol)

      And hey – I love your blog already lol As you can tell half of what I read is YA so I’ll definitely be checking you out often.
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  4. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    Oh this sound really interesting! And your review highlighted so many things I look for in books – like some romance, the mystery and the suspense! 🙂 I was wondering though since you mention the murders are gruesome – do you think they are overly graphic or dwell on those scenes?
    Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy recently posted…Review: Cruel BeautyMy Profile

  5. Bube

    Sounds good!I would love to read this book 🙂
    Thank you for the great review 🙂

  6. Wendy Darling

    Oh my gosh–this book sounds amazing, Tabitha! The setting, the relationship, the characters, the mystery–everything sounds utterly dreamy, and this rating from you means I MUST read it. How have I never heard of it before? Thank goodness I have you to guide me. 😀
    Wendy Darling recently posted…YA Authors Read Snarky ReviewsMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      haha ! yes yes and yes! I adored this one. It really helped pull me out of a reading slump I was having. If you like ghosts and I know you like your romance (which this isn’t too heavy handed with it) then I think you’ll like it.

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yes! I would hope you’d love it. I know its adult and you read much more YA but definitely worth a shot. The covers are gorgeous. Normally I don’t like a face shot but these fit so well with her period clothing. It would have been interesting to see a ghost in there though.