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Text?Afterimage is a book for mature readers!
This review contains minor spoilers for Evenfall, book one of In the Company of Shadows.

Sin suffers from hallucinations and flashbacks and struggles to keep his fragile state of mind a secret from his partner and lover Boyd. Sin fears he'll fall into one of his fits and then there is no chance of not hurting Boyd.
Boyd has different problems. He's got a promotion from Carthart and can train to become a level 10 agent. That means months of training, isolated on the agency compound even from his partner Sin. Boyd is wary about doing it. He doesn't want to be separated from Sin and he knows the training is going to be tough shit. On the contrary he is flattered about Carthart's idea. He wishes people wouldn't only see Vivienne Beaulieu's son or Sin's partner when they look at him. He wants to be respected for his own archievements.
Both don't know yet that Sin's secrecies and Boyd's training will put them literally into hell...

You think Evenfall was a tough story? You are wrong. At the end of the first book there is hope for these boys and their relationship. In Afterimage you can watch this hope gutter away. It was horrible to read. At the end you feel like someone stomped on your heart, ripped it into pieces and threw it all away. I really was a mess after finishing this book. There was a tiny little glimpse of something (I wouldn't dare to call it hope) but - yeah - I saw it, thank you Ais and Sonny.

What can I say. This book let its readers suffer. Badly. But, and that's a huge BUT, I couldn't put it down. I tried it between chapter 7 and 11 (around 250 pages if my memory doesn't play tricks) and only managed it because I know from experience that nobody likes me after a night I got only four or less hours of sleep.
Afterimage was full of action and one watched Boyd and Sin having the worst timing of all. And when I started to think it couldn't get worser, yepp, I was wrong. Sin's mental status drove me crazy. Boyd's ego trip made me want to cry and they were both so unhealthy for each other. Worst of all, they recognized that for themselves.Sin_Evenfall

Believe me, all the hurt and angst was worth it. They were unhealthy for each other most of the time in Afterimage but they started to grow from it. And they follow this path in the next book of the series - The Interludes. Even when these are 'just' a collection of shorter stories they are essential to the storyline. Don't skip them. They'll give you kind of a break from all the suffering in Afterimage.

It may sound like I didn't liked this book. Wrong, I loved Afterimage. There were a lot of awesome things in this book. So much action, breath taking moments and all the side characters the reader got to know better. The guys from Carthart's unit, the other level 10 trainees, Ann and - oh yeah - Kassian. And the end. OMG, this end was fabulous. Didn't I see it coming at the end of Evenfall? It was nice to see that I got the hint. It was also good to see that not only Boyd could get lost in self-loathing but Sin suffered from the same 'virtue'.

All in all Afterimage was a gorgeous second book of the In the Company of Shadows series. It was frightening to see the agency in full power. And one got really sick about this 'the end justifies the means'-mentality. I was breathless and curious in the end. What would happen to all these beloved and detested characters? If you feel like this when you finished Afterimage you are going to love The Interludes. Promised.

Pic: Best incarnation of Sin ever, Jason Muirbrook, Picture by Groupmodels. Don't fear, Boyd's picture is coming in my next review of this series. ^^

Of course, Afterimage was a 5 star read.
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Text?Be aware Evenfall is a book for mature readers! It's the first part of the In the Company of Shadows series.

After WWIII. Most of the big cities have been destroyed, the stratosphere is filled with ashes and the temperature is lower than before. Humankind has been depleted and the balance of political power is disturbed. Activists and terrorists are powerful forces against governments. One secret organisation fights against terror more often unfair than fair. Not many people know about it and the few who know call it the Agency.

Long black hair, dark colour, green almond-shaped eyes, tall, thin, strong - Sin (28).
Since the age of 14 Hsin (Sin) Lui Vega has been the best, dangerous and notorious assassin of the Agency. Nobody is as deadly and as perilous as Sin. They call him crazy, monster and freak. His former four partners are dead, one doctor is a drivelling wreck and if Sin freaks out no one is safe, neither friend nor foe. At the moment he lives in a box on the Maximum Security ward...

Blond long hair, honey brown eyes, short, thin, pretty - Boyd (19).
Since 'the incident' Boyd Beaulieu lives in a void. He doesn't care if he dies or feels nothing. Boyd vegetates. When the Agency wants to reactivate Sin, Vivienne Beaulieu, second in command of the Agency, recommends her good-for-nothing son as Sin's partner. Surprinsingly Boyd wins out over the other attendees and becomes Sin's partner. The odds are not in Boyd's favour...

Evenfall. Wow, a tough story that takes place in a rough world. From the beginning I was hooked. One sentence did the trick:

"Officer Luke Gerant had seen several cells in Maximum Security but none of them were quite like this, which had been built specifically for the highly unpredictable man inside."

After that I met Sin for the first time and nearly drooled over my e-reader:

"Are you hungry?"
"No. After six months on a liquid diet, I'm watching my figure."

Then I finally met Boyd and fell head over heels in love with this story. It was so fascinating. How they first met, how they interacted, how they became friends, how they lusted after each other (and couldn't do a thing right), how they became lovers after what felt like an eternatiy, how they talked or acted mostly at the wrong time or the wrong place. Even the long inner monologues of them both couldn't lessen my elation.
It was a rollercoaster and I wanted to punch Boyd and Sin so many times. I screamed at them, cried angry tears and cursed like a sailor. I love these guys but they are so annyoing.

The story is not for the faint of heart. There are not only the assassinations which are part of their job description, but the reader has to deal with a lot of psychological violence too. Some of it put me into an emotional turmoil, especially meetings with Vivienne, Boyd's mother. I dispise her like I dispise Umbridge (my worst female character ever). I thought the worst mother figure so far has been Evelyn D'Amato from Close Protection but she is a lightweight compared to Vivienne Beaulieu. Urgh, this woman makes me sick.

Of course Sin is one of the most fascinating and interesting characters ever. Anyhow it is Boyd I love a bit more than Sin. Yes, he is emo, does so many stupid things (although considered his age Sin is quite bad too) and his thoughts are running in depressing cicles but I can't help myself. Boyd reminds me not only of my own teenage years, he is imo the character who changes the most over time. Nonetheless he drove me crazy with his self-flagellation in this book. At the end of Evenfall Sin's and Boyd's relationship is still in flux. Be prepared for some more shit coming their way...

Around the date this review was first published (May 2014) one could search for a new version of Evenfall. Sonny (Santino Hassell) and Ais have edited the book and cut it in two parts. If I read it correctly this 'Director's Cut' should have around 300 pages less per book. (The first part is already published.) It's a good thing because this version contains extended descriptions of thoughts and places which aren't all essential. I'm planning to compare both versions. Yes, In the Company of Shadows is definitely re-read material.

Pic by Serrival on devianart.

If you love action, m-m, some gorgeous MCs and a dark story, give this series a try. Highly recommended.


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