Review: Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson

nightshades-by-melissa-f-olsonNightshades by Melissa F. Olson

Nightshades #1

e-book, purchased

Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Alex McKenna is the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations—the division tasked with investigating crimes involving shades.

Or vampires, as they’re more widely known.

Children have been going missing, and agents are routinely being slaughtered. It’s up to McKenna, and some unlikely allies, to get to the bottom of the problem, and find the kids before it’s too late.


Melissa F. Olson is an author whose books I’ve read and liked before. This book is the beginning of a new series and is a novella (208 pages) published by (which is publishing novella e-books). I’ve read several others they’ve published and enjoyed the ones I’ve read. (Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire is a book, for example.)

I thought this book was quite different from others I’ve read by Ms. Olson. For example, the main character is male and the other two series I’ve read by her had female protagonists.

The setting

This book takes place in the Chicago area in a new division of the FBI (called the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations–BPI). Shades–or vampires as people who hear about them often call them–have only become known to humans within the last couple of years after a shade was captured alive by humans. He is being held and studied by the FBI in a secure prison. However, he’s legally still considered a human so only certain tests can be done–blood drawn, but no dissections!

Changes in Shade behavior

Before this book opened the shades kept a low profile. Now they have changed in the Chicago area and are acting more openly. A number of teenagers near Chicago have been kidnapped and other people killed all in what look like Shade attacks. In the first few pages of the book a number of Bureau of Paranormal Investigations agents are killed. New agents are posted to Chicago including a new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office.

Alex McKenna, Special Agent in Charge

Alex McKenna is known as “the legacy agent” since his mother was the first female director of the FBI. Alex grew up in the Hoover Building and the FBI doesn’t want him killed. However, Alex is ambitious and though he’s only in his early thirties he gets the Special Agent in Charge job even though it’s a very dangerous job. He has a better chance to get this job because other agents don’t want this very dangerous job! Plus he feels someone has to figure out what is going on with the shades.

Once Alex and his best friend–Chase Eddy (who becomes Alex’s number two in Chicago)–set up their team and arrive in Chicago everything moves very fast in the book.

My thoughts

The first part of the book deals with setting up background for the characters and getting to know them. We learn about the world building slowly and I would guess we will find out more in future books. By the end of the book more is known about shades and there are several confrontations with the shades. Ms. Olson has plenty more avenues for future books!

This book doesn’t end in a cliff hanger which pleased me. It’s a quick read. The story has a number of familiar parts as an urban fantasy about vampires. However, it has a few unique parts which helped keep my interest. Ms. Olson’s characters are well-written and we get several points-of-view. Two more books in the series show up on Goodreads, but they have no publication date or cover yet.

Rating: B