Review: Shatterproof by Xen Sanders


Title: ShatterproofAuthor: Xen Sanders
Genre: Paranormal romance, M/M, dark
Release Date: 5 Sept 2016
Trigger warnings: Depression, suicide, death
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My rating: 4.5 Stars


Saint’s afraid to die. Grey can’t stand to live.

Grey Jean-Marcelin wants to die. He thought painting his passion—vivid portrayals of Haitian life and vodou faith—would be enough to anchor him to this world. But it isn’t. And when the mysterious man known only as Saint saves Grey from a suicide attempt, it’s more curse than blessing—until Grey discovers that Saint isn’t just an EMT. He’s a banished fae, and can only survive by draining the lives of those he loves.

All Saint needed was a simple bargain: one life willingly given for another. But as Saint’s feelings for Grey grow deeper, centuries of guilt leave him desperate to save a man who doesn’t want salvation, even if Grey’s life means Saint’s death.

When Grey’s depression consumes him, only he can decide if living is worth the struggle. Yet his choice may come too late to save his life . . . or Saint’s soul. And whatever choice he makes, it may shatter them both.


Note: Xen Sanders is the pen-name of Cole McCade for his SFF and paranormal stories. I have already read and really liked his Crow City series and when I heard he will be writing SFF/paranormal romance I was curious to read it.

This story is unlike anything I've read before, contemporary romance with a touch of paranormal, dark, mystical, sad and hopeful at the same time. I can summarize my assessment of the story in two words - hauntingly beautiful.

It's like a modern retelling of ancient myths and folklore, playing with the notion of what is art/artist, what is love/life and the biggest question it explores is about the nature of death.

It's dark and scary and please take seriously the author's trigger warnings (depression, suicide, death) and if you choose to read it, be ready for some stunningly beautiful prose about the darkest and scariest depths of the human soul. 

On the surface, Shatterproof is a paranormal story, Saint it an immortal fae living among us, yet his romance with Grey was real, their struggles individually and as a couple are also far too real. The author explores painful issues like depression and suicide in what I'd consider a realistic and truthful manner (here is where I admit to having no experience with either).

I loved how the author treated his characters with so much love and sympathy that the reader can't help but feel the same for them. My heart broke repeated for both Grey and Saint. Theirs is a love story with mythical dimensions, yet an ordinary, everyday one too. 

Grey is POC, an artist of Haitian descent, very much involved with the Voodoo religion. It has a powerful presence in the story, which I found fascinating yet a bit overwhelming at times. It's presented in great detail which was challenging for me as a reader with no knowledge of it. Still, being religious myself (I'm an Orthodox Christian) I felt I could relate to Grey's approach to his faith and significance it had in his life and art. 

The writing is I have already come to expect from this author - powerful, lyrical and very evocative. Xen Sanders spins a haunting story that grips you from the first page and never lets you go.

This was not an easy read for me but it's beautiful in its darkness, captivating in its mythology and haunting in its seriousness.

Pre-order link: Riptide 

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