Shadow Warrior, by M.K. Yarbrough (2012)

4 of 5 stars false

bookshelves: fiction, series, ya-paranormal

Read in January, 2013
“Shadow Warrior” is the final book in the series, and what a ride.

Brendon Alexander is happy. He’s just finished his first year at Stanford, and now he’s off to work at a summer museum job his girlfriend Lisa Stratton’s father got him. He knows something is wrong when Lisa picks him up at the airport, with another man driving the car. Worse, this smarmy jackass, Ricardo Weeks, will be his boss for the summer. Worst of all, Ricardo announces that he and Lisa are engaged.

Brendon, understandably, doesn’t take the news very well. They go to a big cookout at Lisa’s parents’ house, and he can sense something isn’t right. When she talks about how much she loves Ricardo, she says “I love him with all my mind.” As the Summer progresses, that statement weighs more and more on Brendon’s mind.

He finds himself living in a two bedroom house with three other college boys, who are also working at the museum. The work itself is peculiar. Their project is to set-up a museum for pre-Colombian artifacts, but just a few weeks before the scheduled opening, there are no artifacts. A truck delivers some boxes one day, but everything in them was brand new and made in China.

Something is twitching Brendon’s spiritual antennae, too. He’s started to have nightmares involving Lisa, Ricardo, and two very odd looking elder tribesmen. Brendon’s nightmares always seem to predict the future where evil is concerned, and he doesn’t want these to come true, for he keeps having his heart cut out.

The college boys build a two level riser, upon which they are to place what seems to be the only authentic relic in the museum–an ancient stone slab. As soon as Brendon touches it, he gets visions of blood and sacrifices. This confirms for him that Ricardo is up to something unsavory.

Brendon also discovers another bit of subterfuge Ricardo is foisting on everyone. He requires everyone to drink a “medicine” as a prophylactic against potentially deadly mold spores. The “medicine” looks like chocolate milk, but has a nasty aftertaste. Brendon notices that his three roommates, once starting this regimen, become unusually subservient to Ricardo. He also discovers that Lisa has been taking the same potion, only Ricardo calls it a “vitamin tonic.” When he finds himself alone in the Strattons’ kitchen, he dumps out the “vitamin tonic,” and replaces it with straight chocolate milk. He adds a few extra ingredients to mimic the aftertaste. Sure enough, Lisa’s zombie-like obeisance to Ricardo dissipates over a few days.

Reassured of his love for her, Brendon prepares himself for the Final Battle, as his grandfather and father warn him in visions. When the battle comes, Brendon is not prepared, and finds himself fighting for his life, and the life of the woman he’s planning to live with forever.

This third installment, much like the second, just grabs you when you start it, and doesn’t let go until after the Battle. We know who the bad guy is–that’s obvious–but the paths leading to that Battle are a hell of a ride.

M.K. Yarbrough has written a wonderful trilogy, imbuing each book with a different tone. The first was a relaxed introduction to the characters. The second was more intense, and showed how Brendon was growing in confidence and wisdom. Then “Shadow Warrior” finds Brendon in need of every scrap of skill and knowledge he has, plus the ability to think on his toes. His family–his source of protection–are six hours away. He’s on his own.

This series isn’t perfect, but it is a lot of fun. It’s also addictive as hell–I read the whole trilogy in one night. Granted, I’ll probably fall asleep at work later, but it was that well-executed that I couldn’t bear to put it down.

Highly recommended.

About tom

B.A. in Literature, Minor in Film Theory and Criticism, thus meaning all I’m trained is to write blog posts here. Neptune is my favorite planet–it vents methane into the solar system like my brother does. I think Chicken McNuggets look like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana. There are times when I’m medicated, which is why I wrote about McNuggets. Buy some today and tell me I’m wrong! Anyway, Beyond that: mammal, Floridian, biped.Good Night, and Good Luck. Besos, tom
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