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FREEFIC WEEK – SERIES REVIEW: In the Company of Shadows by Ais & Santino

ABOUT:

Years after the bombs of WWIII have changed the physical and political landscape, the Agency ruthlessly works behind the scenes to take down rebel groups that threaten the current government. Their goals justify all means. Hsin Liu Vega (Sin) is their most efficient and deadly assassin ever. However, he tends to go off on unauthorized killing sprees and somehow his assigned partners all end up dead under suspicious circumstances. That is why the Agency has had him locked up in a box on the fourth floor for years. But now they think it is time to put the psychopath back in the field. With a new partner.

Boyd’s mother, a high ranking Agency official, volunteers her teenage son for the position. Boyd is not afraid of death. In fact, his life has been such an endless cycle of apathy and despair for the last few years that he’d welcome it.

Can these two broken men form an efficient partnership? Can they learn to trust anyone, let alone each other? Sin doesn’t give a fuck about the Agency, or the androgynous boy who holds the remote to the shock collar that is supposed to control him.

On the other hand, Boyd is strangely unafraid of the man everyone calls ‘monster’ and Sin seems reluctant to let his keeper get himself killed on any missions. Yet.

REVIEW:

I’m still a fairly new’ish M/M reader.  It’s been about a year for me immersed in the genre.  I’ve found that I’m mostly drawn to sweet stories, fairy tales really, with happy endings.  I love likable characters, try to avoid anything above a…3?…on the angst meter, and I consume books voraciously…probably 3-5 a week, which means I prefer the short, quick reads.

WHAT THE HELL was I doing reading “In the Company of Shadows”?  …AND WHY SHOULD YOU?

My first ‘epic’ M/M series read was Special Forces by Voinov & Marquesate.  It almost broke me.  I felt so deeply and was so dramatically impacted that my boss even asked what was going on with me.  I couldn’t function.  I swore I’d never do it again.

hsin

So, when friends kept insisting I read ICoS, I just couldn’t do that to myself…to my life…to my heart!  But, on the other hand, how could I NOT?  I knew I was missing out (and I hate missing out!).  And everyone just raved and raved and raved about it!

Finally, one day I saw this picture posted somewhere on Goodreads with the caption “Hsin Liu Vega”.  Well helloooo, you!  Hammer, nail, proverbial coffin.

My decision was made.  DONE AND DONE.

ICoS is in a nutshell, an emotional marathon.  If you do NOT have the stamina, don’t even try (but don’t sell yourself short either…if I can do, you can…trust me).  It’s thousands and thousands and thousands of pages long over the course of 4 books.  I planned on reading it during my Christmas vacation (7 days off devoted to hours of nothing but reading).  I barely made a dent.  It’s daunting.  But it’s not just the size, it’s the world (dystopian’ish), the characters (there are quite a few and ALL memorable), and the loyal fanbase (everyone and their mothers jumped out of the woodwork  to comment on my GR updates as I read).

AND IT’S WORTH IT.

The story centers around 2 MC’s, Boyd and Hsin and the cast of characters that come in and out of their lives and impact their growths as individuals and as a couple. There is lust, betrayal, heartache, assassinations, sex, political intrigue, dysfunction…and it’s all brilliant.  You’ll find yourself engrossed in their lives and the loyalty of picking sides (Team Hsin for me…duh) rivals that of the Dan/Vadim teams of Special Forces.

I felt this read…DEEPLY.  I was so impacted that I had dreams and nightmares, I woke up sore all over from grinding my teeth and tensing my muscles, I cried and cried and cried. I tried to pick up the pieces of my heart and then other times I couldn’t squeeee enough…a squee just wouldn’t cut it!  I mourned, I screamed, I cursed the authors, I rejoiced, I had to resuscitate my heart on multiple occasions, and I even found myself waist-deep in fandom of this series amongst many as obsessed as I was (which I swore I’d never be “that girl”).  I also, quite possibly, broke the exclamation point key on my laptop, I pounded on it so often while commenting about the book.

It honestly changed my life in many ways…and definitely changed the way I read.  And I still feel it deeply any time discussions come up about the series.

This will put you through the ringer…and you’ll be so gloriously satisfied at the end.  You’ll feel like you EARNED it…and you will have.  And you’ll find yourself a part of a community that all “gets it”…we all understand, we’ve been there, and it’s a fellowship of sorts.

This series hurts. And it heals.  And it leaves a mark.  And you are missing out if you don’t give it a go.  So, don’t miss out!

SeriesSepia

Here are some snippets on the reviews I did for each book as I completed them (and I’ve linked my full reviews for the separate books):

Evenfall (4 stars)–

“Ultimately, it all came down to the strength of the characters. And though I became so connected to Hsin & Boyd that I had a myriad of emotional & physical reactions to their journey…it wasn’t just them. It was ALL of them… strong, interesting, haunting, sympathetic, annoying, aggravating, tender, attractive, fierce characters. And that’s what drives this book…that’s what makes you want to push through 1500 pages…to find out what happens to them…”

Afterimage (4 stars) –

“This is torturous angst that rips you apart and skewers you and eats you alive and then spits you out and stomps on you and flicks you off its shoe into a vat of burning lava only to burn to a fiery death.

…Did I love it? No, I HATED it. Was it brilliant? OF COURSE IT WAS”

The Interludes (4 stars) –

“I loved this book. What a treat.

Some of it was PAINFUL.
Some of it was INTRIGUING.
Some of it was BLISSFUL.
Some of it was HILARIOUS.
Some of it was INFURIATING.
Some of it was TWISTED.
Some of it was BEAUTIFUL.

And ALL of it was FANTASTIC”

Fade (5 stars) –

“But, of course Sonny & Ais don’t know how to do anything half-assed. Fade has the TORTURE that you’ve come to sickly crave throughout this series. It also has the LOVE that you’ve come to root for through all the various couples in this series. It has some of the HOTTEST scenes I’ve ever read. And, more so than even in the other books…it had the BEST storyline…ridiculously good…so, so freaking good.

I can’t express how much Hsin & Boyd, Ryan, Kassian, Emilio, Zach…and all the others, have gotten under my skin and into my heart. Watching them start from angry beginnings, go through near-unbearable anguish, mess-up, make-up, have their lives screwed-up by the-powers-that-be, grow-up, and find love along the way…just…no words…”

BOOK INFO:

8164566Title:  “Evenfall (book 1)”
Release Date:  2007
Pages: 1427
URL:  http://www.inthecompanyofshadows.com/#

8164593Title:  “Afterimage (book 2)”
Release Date:  2009
Pages: 1015
URL:   http://www.inthecompanyofshadows.com/#

10506860Title:  “Interludes (book 3)”
Release Date:  2010
Pages: 913
URL:   http://www.inthecompanyofshadows.com/#

11737700

Title:  “Fade (book 4)”
Release Date:  2013
Pages: 1214
URL:   http://www.inthecompanyofshadows.com/#

 

15 comments on “FREEFIC WEEK – SERIES REVIEW: In the Company of Shadows by Ais & Santino

  1. shelley
    November 7, 2013

    *Ooomph*…you just socked me one in the gut all over again, shit.

    And then you kill me with this:
    “I felt this read…DEEPLY. I was so impacted that I had dreams and nightmares, I woke up sore all over from grinding my teeth and tensing my muscles, I cried and cried and cried. I tried to pick up the pieces of my heart and then other times I couldn’t squeeee enough…a squee just wouldn’t cut it! I mourned, I screamed, I cursed the authors, I rejoiced, I had to resuscitate my heart on multiple occasions, ”

    Oh God!!!! Me too! I think this goes for EVERYONE who has read this series. I can’t listen to any music without searching for an ICoS reference for my ever growing playlist. ICoS takes over completely, it’s always just …there. So deeply rooted in my subconscious constantly bubbling to the surface when I’m doing everyday shit – even like you say, a year later! It’s NUTS! I don’t think anything will ever be this good – ever! Santino and Ais I hate you and I LOVE you.

    Like

    • Sheri
      November 7, 2013

      and you *want* me to read this after both yours and SQ’s post?!
      *smh*
      I just don’t know….I’m afraid…very afraid

      Like

      • Sue
        November 7, 2013

        Shez, you MUST read it. You will adore it. I promise you. And we’ll be here to hold your hand and support you when you loose your mind too. ICoS IS AMAZING. Promise xx

        Like

  2. Ilhem
    November 7, 2013

    “And you’ll find yourself a part of a community that all “gets it”…we all understand, we’ve been there, and it’s a fellowship of sorts” Yes!

    There are stories like that. You can’t help updating your joy, your angst, your everything, and people relish reading them and commenting on them. It’s like a brotherhood, and you don’t live that for any story. I’ve only lived it for Special Forces, The Administration and In The Company of Shadows.

    Like

    • syleegurl
      November 7, 2013

      “I’ve only lived it for Special Forces, The Administration and In The Company of Shadows.”

      Isn’t it crazy how these reads…ALL FREE…are the ones that have impacted and stayed with their readers? I still feel the hurt by Dan after Thailand. I still remember exactly how I couldn’t breathe when Carnac and Toreth faced off in Warrick’s apartment in FatW. I still remember how I cried and cried at the beginning of Fade. THESE parts and SO. MANY. MORE.

      *sigh*

      I hope EVEN MORE readers will be giving these free reads a try.

      Like

      • Christina
        November 7, 2013

        You said it! Those 3 will always be with me and you hit the exact points in each of the series.

        Like

  3. Ilhem
    November 7, 2013

    ^^^ The three of them are free fictions. Just saying… :)

    Like

  4. loederkoninginkatinka
    November 7, 2013

    “everyone and their mothers jumped out of the woodwork to comment on my GR updates as I read”

    *nods frantically* LOL!

    Like

  5. Ami
    November 7, 2013

    I guess I’m still this only one who hasn’t read it — but maybe with the re-release I will. I’m not having good track with ‘cult’ fiction here (didn’t everyone know that I DNF most of those mentioned? SF, The Administration, Mann of My Dreams ….). Talk about split decision *LOL*

    Like

    • Sue
      November 7, 2013

      Oh God, Ami – you must read it. Be prepared to be CONSUMED by it though. It’s THE BOMB!!!

      Like

  6. Sue
    November 7, 2013

    Great work Suse. :) It made me miss the story though – it’s so so so so so f*cking unreal. <3

    Like

  7. Pingback: The Inner Workings of an Ais | Q&A/FAQ: Co-Writing for a Decade

  8. Lorraine
    November 18, 2013

    I, too am new to the MM genre, having first read Special Forces Soldiers in January. I was obsessed. It was all I could think about. I got behind at work because I was daydreaming about the scenes from the previous night’s reading. When I read on GR that they spend some of Mercenaries apart and there was some cheating, I decided not to read it, thinking that I wasn’t up to the heartbreak, (you know, cuz Soldiers was so easy to read…lol).

    ICoS was only the second MM book I read. I loved Evenfall and I knew that like Soldiers, the MCs spent time apart in Afterimage. I decided to plunge in, knowing I’d cheated myself re: SF. I cried throughout most of it. I bravely moved on to The Interludes and was dismayed to see the heartbreak continuing. I quickly got onto GR, not knowing if I could take anymore pain, and it was actually your review, Susan, that convinced me to continue reading…once I saw “Vermont…sigh” I knew there would be happy times for our boys (btw thank you!…I really was ready to stop reading the series at that point). I loved it!!! Hsin and Boyd and the ever fabulous Emilio…I was in heaven. Fade, with even deeper heartbreak and then eventual joy, was even better. LOVE!

    “And I still feel it deeply any time discussions come up about the series.” I agree. I still cry when I think about how heartbroken Hsin was in Afterimage, how vulnerable Boyd was when Hsin rescued him from Janus and how gentle and loving Hsin was with him, and the final chapters…wow!

    It’s such an awesome series. Even though it’s 4,000+ pages, I would have been happy for another 1,000 pages. It will always be one of my favorite series.

    Like

  9. Lotty
    January 29, 2014

    * whispers *
    I get it… I’ve been postponing this forever, ’cause I usually don’t read future set stories. I’m in the middle of book 3 now. I’m a mess. I don’t eat, I don’t sleap, I’m late for work,… They’ve taken over my life and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    Like

  10. beeyeah
    May 2, 2016

    “This series hurts. And it heals. And it leaves a mark.”

    ACCURATE. At first I thought it was just a normal series with a normal writing and normal angst. But I’ve had it, too. Hassell and Ais’ writing is so powerful that it penetrates subconscious. I’ve had nightmares and my officemates found a huge difference in my temperament. I’ll never look at books the same way ever again. And I doubt anything can surpass what this series has done to me.

    *whispers/ I’ll try Special Forces if it does the same. I’m up for the challenge ;D*

    Like

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This entry was posted on November 7, 2013 by in FanFic / FreeFic, Reviewer: Susan and tagged , , , , .

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