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.
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.