Review: The Mountain’s Shadow by Cecilia Dominic

themountainshadowThe Mountain’s Shadow by Cecilia Dominic (The Lycanthropy Files #1)
Released: October 1, 2013
Urban Fantasy

Reviewed by May

Blurb: First it was ADD. Then pediatric bipolar. Now the hot behavioral disorder in children is CLS, or Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome. Public health researcher Joanie Fisher was closing in on the cause in hopes of finding a treatment until a lab fire and an affair with her boss left her without a job.

When her grandfather leaves her his multimillion-dollar estate in the Ozarks, though, she figures her luck is turning around. Except her inheritance comes with complications: town children who disappear during full moons, an irresistible butler, and a pack of werewolves who can’t seem to decide whether to frighten her or flirt with her.

Joanie’s research is the key to unraveling the mysteries of Wolfsbane Manor. However, resuming her work means facing painful truths about her childhood, which could result in the loss of love, friendship, and the only true family she has left.

I was intrigued by the premise of this book, and I think that the author has some raw talent that could lead to a story I would quite like. This being said, right up front I am going to tell you that this book receives a failing grade from me. Rather than rant and shake my fist at all the reasons why it didn’t work, I will simply make a list and keep this short.

Top Five reasons this book receives a failing grade from me:

1. Joanie (aka “heroine”) likes her men married, she has no problem having an affair with her married boss- even getting physical with him in his home while his wife is home. Yet at the same time, she’s disgusted with her best friend for rolling into the new town and immediately (as in, the first day) having sex with a married man.

“You know me. Jerks are my type.”

“And married men were mine, but I’ve sworn them off.”

“Probably a good thing. Wives will have you killed if you’re not careful.”

2. Joanie has a frienemy kind of relationship with her best friend. Joanie is very jealous of her friend’s looks and attention she gets, they put each other down for their choices in men, and generally do more to hurt each other than support each other. It is a totally toxic relationship.

3. This “CLS” syndrome thing was nonsense. I won’t even try to explain because none of the pieces came together. We’re talking about kids who have symptoms but don’t turn, then we’re talking about tainted vaccines and people getting it randomly as adults. Then it’s almost mystical and there are different types. I think it was supposed to be a unique spin on the werewolf series, but it didn’t ever work out for me.

4. There is a huge story here – between the disappearing kids plot, the mad scientist plot, the black wolf roaming, Joanie finding out about her family history – but it is a very short book. The result is a wild mess with so many unresolved issues and an unsatisfying story.

“If you’re going to live with them, you need to be able to accept the limitations of the disorder. You need to realize that thy can’t be held completely accountable for their actions.”

5. “They can’t help it, it’s the CLS” is trotted out during full moons, after shifts, and generally any time someone with CLS does something bad. Whether it’s the best friend sleeping with the boy that our heroine is into or the “good guy” of the story physically assaulting Joanie – they can’t be blamed. The CLS made them do it.

So bottom line, this book pushed a lot of personal buttons from weak, jealous, entitled heroine to toxic female friendships, assault and infidelity excused, and so on. I would have given it a higher grade but the story itself was such a mess that even setting aside the things about the characters that didn’t work for me there is really not anything here I can praise.

Why didn’t I just stop reading? I thought perhaps the author was going to show us some growth, or give us some reason why the main characters would behave so badly. I thought perhaps she was starting intentionally with intensely unlikeable characters and that we’d grow to love them. Instead of that happening, we got a constant onslaught of new characters, plots, and information that made everything unravel into a huge mess.

Grade: F

Recent Reviews:
The Book Pushers – DNF

Goodreads l Author Website l Series Guide

Kindle l Nook l Samhain


  1. says

    You are made of stronger stuff than I to see this one to the end, lol:-) From your review, I take it the story didn’t actually get better. Even though I DNF’d it, I was trying to be generous by extrapolating a C-/D+ rating if I had actually finished it…I was over generous by the looks of it. Oy.

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