The Color of Light

The Color of Light - Helen Maryles Shankman

Isn't it awesome when a book blurb actually lives up to your expectations? These days it doesn't seem to happen often--sometimes blurbs go as far as misrepresenting the book completely--but not with The Color of Light. I was actually impressed by how accurate the blurb was, and it's hard to write a review for this book without giving plot points away, so I will just do my best to get the feel of the book down so you know what to expect going in.

First of all, it's a very dramatic, angsty book. So if that is not your thing, you are probably not going to like this. The characters are either art students, board members, instructors, or Jewish descendants of people that died in the Holocaust. It is a depressing book at times (not all the time), but it always kept me engaged, focused, and eager to turn the page. 

It started out as an extremely character-driven novel and turned into much more than that. The characters are extremely well-developed. The only confusion I found there is that some of the art students with smaller parts seemed to run together at times. But Rafe and Tessa and their romance won me over completely. I was hooked and it never felt overdone. There were other things that felt a bit overdone, but never the romance. It's kind of hard to explain. Maybe some of the angst felt a bit cheesy?

The other thing I must mention is the atmosphere and setting of the book. The majority of The Color of Light is set in New York City: a fictional classical art school, Gramercy Park, the meat-packing district, and then the rest is set in Paris and Poland. I think all aspects of the setting were captured SO WELL. This author writes sensory language and detail in such a remarkable way that I could smell, sense, and feel everything for myself. Some might say the prose was a tad purple, but I don't mind when it's like this, to be honest. As long as the pacing is good and it doesn't bog the plot down--and it didn't--then I am going to love it. And oh my this book made me yearn for New York City so much. The art school came to life under the author's pen and it made me wish I had gone to art school myself! I wish I could talk about how the imagery affected me in an emotional way in the other more dramatic parts of the book, but I can't without spoiling, so you will have to see for yourself.

The book is paranormal, historical, romantic, Gothic, and everything the blurb said it would be. In many ways I feel like The Color of Light was exactly what I was expecting but at the same time NOTHING like I was expecting. It's not a perfect book though. I do think it could have done with another pass by an editor, and since this was an ARC, maybe that happened. There are a lot of punctuation errors, especially in dialogue; poor word choices when I think another selection may have been better; and the length was a bit much. I think fifty or so pages could have been knocked off without much impact. It's not that the pacing was off, but I do feel there were a couple of scenes that didn't add much to the story, though the book still had plenty excitement and drama.


With my small criticisms, I have rated the book at four stars even though I really wanted to give it five. It was seriously one of the most arresting novels I have read this year. Vampires use thrall to put people under their spell, and this book did the same to me. Rafe Sinclair is the type of character that readers are going to love, hate, and feel all spectrum of emotions for, but the end result will be that he fascinates them, regardless of how they feel. Tessa, on the other hand, is tough to like at times. Her choices in men are atrocious, and because of her poor choices, it's easy to get frustrated. But she gets better; I only wish that she had more of a mind of her own. She is kind of weak as a protagonist. But you'll see if you read it. I don't doubt that there will be some readers that compare her to Bella Swan, but I think she has a bit more drive than that. I'm actually anxious to hear others' thoughts on this book. 

Even with the few flaws that I did find, I highly recommend this one to lovers of paranormal fiction with a literary twist. It's not your typical paranormal romance. There is a little bit of steamy but there are no graphic sex scenes and they are entirely unnecessary anyway. This one is all about the romance, the art (and the author did her research), and the paranormal. I loved almost every bit of it.