If I am honest, typically when I am reading a mafia book, it involved romance, and a lot of smut. That was not the case with Shadow of the Gypsy by Shelly Frome, as this is a book filled with suspense and the past of a character you have to work incredibly hard to figure out.
Honestly, I don’t know if I liked this book or not. After finishing the book I am still torn. While I enjoyed the story and most of the characters, I am not entirely sure I enjoyed the time I spent reading. The writing style Shelly Frome has is not a writing style that flows. Instead it is filled with stops and starts and a lot of references (speeches, scenarios, so on and so forth) that you have to pay close attention to because they come to fruition much later in the book.
That being said, this book and this author probably handles different POV’s amazingly. You spend the book in either Josh’s point of view, or Zharko’s point of view. I love being in Zharko’s point of view. Why you ask? Because Zharko does not speak fluent English. He speaks that broken English that we typically associate with immigrants that have worked incredibly hard to understand and speak a language that is not easy to speak and understand. And that comes through so clearly in his point of views. You don’t have to worry that when the point of view switches, you won’t know. A lot of Zharko’s sections are in that broken, not quite clear broken English. And while normally this would irritate me to no end, because I hate when authors do this, Shelly actually included a reason as to why. Zharko was so determined to learn the language that he even “thought” in the language, even when those thoughts were a little broken. I fucking loved it.
And while I loved Zharko, I kind of hated Josh. I appreciated that Josh’s entire personality was based on trying to hide his entire life. He wanted to stay hidden, wanted to stay under the radar due to his past and what had happened, but man did I dislike him. It probably doesn’t help that I read a lot of books with morally grey villains that I end up liking, so it isn’t a stretch that I prefer the villain.
Since we are talking about characters I am not a huge fan of, I want to talk about Molly. Molly is the love interest to Josh, the person he has been working as hard as he can to get back too. And while there is nothing wrong with her, I kind of wish she didn’t exist. It felt like the only reason she did exist was the give Josh a taste of the normalcy that he did not have growing up. He was so anxious to start his life with her that he didn’t take the time to consider, would he have been a good match for her? (No he would not have been.)
Overall – This was an interesting book with an odd writing style that I am still not entirely sure I like. Shelly does an amazing job at painting interesting and complex villains, but it feels like that does not transfer over to the hero who ended up feeling a bit boring and bland. The overall plot of trying to take over another mafia was not original, but it was effective for the book so I do understand that as well.
Plot – 5/10
Characters – 5/10
Originality – 5/10
General Joy of Reading – 5/10
Overall Score – 20/40
Shadow of the Gypsy – Shelly Frome
Cost* – eBook is $8.49 and Paperback is $18.95.
*Cost is based upon what the book cost when book review is published