ARC Review: Soul Keeper (Brotherhood of Shadows #1) by Cathryn Marr

Flora Reviews… Soul Keeper (Brotherhood of Shadows #1) by Cathryn Marr. My thanks to the publisher, Brokenoggin Books, LLC (via Netgalley), for the advanced eBook.

Quote from Soul Keeper

“Luceire took in the lithe form of his quarry, and the first thing that flared through the lingering pain of her song was a savage growl of satisfaction.


My Overall Rating: 1/5

Plot: 3/5 – Flow: 1/5 – Character Development: 1/5 – World Building: 1/5

What’s Soul Keeper about?


Read: 28th June – 4th July 2019

Soul Keeper is the début novel of Cathryn Marr. The pseudo name for the writing partnership of Terese Ramin and Dawn Johanson. It kicks off their new paranormal romance series the Brotherhood of Shadows. This story is set in an alternative world America, with the bulk of the action taking place in San Francisco.

What did I like about Soul Keeper?

I requested Soul Keeper through NetGalley for a number of reasons. Firstly, the front cover caught my eye: you’ve got to agree, it is beautiful. The story description piqued my interest: a main character who helps children with disabilities, the hunt for a serial killer, a fallen angel, an ancient evil, secret magical powers and a romance, yes please. Plus of course, I love supporting debut authors.

I loved the rather terrifying but well-written opening prologue titled Before. The first chapter was easy to read and enjoyable too. Soul Keeper felt like an intelligent story with inspiration taken from a few sources. These sources included the myths and beliefs from the Abrahamic religions, i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

We met four of the main characters in that first chapter, each having their own voice.

I wasn’t expecting this. However, I didn’t feel overwhelmed as it was clear whose point of view we were experiencing. I’ve read plenty of romances featuring angels and fallen angels. However, I’ve never read a story where the heroine was a dance therapist. Let alone one who helped children with disabilities. I was intrigued to see how this unique occupation would come into play.

I really liked Luc, he was a deadly warrior with all the traits I love. He continually proved he was worthy of Rory’s love by being her protector. He never lied to her and he gave her his trust whole-heartedly.

The first chapter also gave us a great view of the world that was created for the series. Not so dissimilar to the world we live in that we can’t relate to it. However, it has lots of paranormal elements and a history of human acceptance of the supernatural thrown into the mix.

This book has some serious adult heat and darker themes. I enjoy getting my teeth into gritty background stories when reading adult paranormal romances and liked the premise here.

As a first in a new series, there is a huge amount of world-building and character introductions to squeeze in.

There’s a lot of inner dialogue in this book. Much of it to help us (the readers) understand and get a picture of the world and our characters’ places in it. However, I must confess, that after the first few chapters, my enthusiasm for this story began to wane. This was due to a number of reasons which I’ll explain later.

Was there anything I didn’t like?

As you can tell from my low rating, there was a lot that didn’t work for me. Unfortunately, Soul Keeper didn’t turn out to be quite what I expected. I need to be honest and admit that I started skim reading before reaching the halfway point. I’m not going to list everything that I didn’t enjoy, however, I will highlight my main grumbles.

Firstly, I struggled with the writing style.

I understand that I read an Advanced Reader Copy that was pre-publication, Therefore, I expected to see proofreading needs. What frustrated me with the writing style, apart from a couple of plot holes that jumped out at me, was the inconsistency. I felt that the prose was contradictory. Modern slang and profanity one minute then PG rated expletives and descriptions the next. The narrative frequently felt over described and on occasion even used obscure vocabulary that forced me to stop reading so that I could look up what a word meant. Plus there is a huge amount of “information dumping” throughout the book rather than letting the reader gain the necessary knowledge through experience. All this contributed to the disruption to the flow of the plot.

Secondly, this book is marketed as a “sexy, paranormal romance”. However, I think it was sorely missing the romance. Lust, yes there was plenty of that as well as implied sexual “deviance”. But no heartwarming romance. 🙁 I also didn’t like the onesidedness of the relationship between Luc and Rory. Luc proved he was worthy of Rory’s love by being her protector, never lying to her and giving her his trust. I didn’t read anything where Rory earned Luc’s. She just got him hard and horny all the time and didn’t seem to consider him in any of her decisions.  I think that if you removed the explicit sexual foreplay scenes from this story, the way the characters thought and reacted to situations plus the general writing style throughout the book all screamed adolescent/YA genre. I am not a YA fan.

However, my biggest gripe which you may have guessed was with our heroine, Rory.

If you’ve read my reviews before, you’ll know that I crave leading female characters that are intelligent, resilient, resourceful and have plenty of gumption; Rory fell very short of the mark for me. I could never understand why she reacted to situations the way she did and I got very frustrated, with what I perceived as, her TSTL modus operandi – Too Stupid To Live. I felt that Rory was too gung-ho for me running into danger that was way over her head and needing to be rescued while putting those around her in mortal danger. In short I found her annoying, frustrating, a terrible sexual tease and extremely juvenile.

I don’t usually choose to read New Adult, Young Adult or teen novels because of all the angst, thought processes and actions of these age groups; it all frustrates the hell out of me and my blood pressure doesn’t need that kind of stress from my “hobby”.

Basically, what I’m saying is…

I think that this writing duo have written a book that could happily be classed as an erotic young adult. Is there such a genre? It wasn’t the book for me but I am sure plenty of readers will love the mix.

Content Warning:

Due to the brutality and violence – both inferred and realised – I’d recommend this book to readers who aren’t offended by content of this nature. There are also many sexual scenes and although there’s no actual intercourse it’s definitely very steamy at times.

I’d recommend Soul Keeper to adults who are fans relationship tales set against a dark backstory but within the paranormal Young Adult or New Adult genre.

So, although SOUL KEEPER (BROTHERHOOD OF SHADOWS #1) was not the book for me, I hope my review still may encourage you to find out more? As I write this, it has received some 4 and 5-star reviews from other readers. Click on any of the links to check out the book yourself.

Keep reading to find out more about Cathryn Marr.


signature graphic. Happy reading from flora image sitting on books

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my review.

Bye for now,

Flora x

By Flora

I'm in my late forties, my interests are varied but since menopause hit a few years ago, I find myself becoming a "grumpy old woman" all too frequently - where has my infinite patience gone!?! Lol!
I bought a Kindle in the summer of 2013 and haven't stopped reading since. If you want to know more about me, check out my blog -

3 replies on “ARC Review: Soul Keeper (Brotherhood of Shadows #1) by Cathryn Marr”

Yikes. It’s always hard, at least for me, to write a review for book you disliked this much, but you did a great job of explaining the reasons. I had to crack up at erotic young adult lol. I can see why this intrigued you with the premise, but I also get frustrated with language that seems contradictory and I don’t think the romance would work for me either.

Thanks Lindsi, I do feel disappointed at the blurb and premise sounded right up my street!
Anyway, yes I’m reading another ARC at the moment More Than Stardust by Vivien Jackson and although it’s the 3rd book in a series, I’m really loving it.
Strangely it’s a sci-fi which is completely out of my usual reading genre but just goes to prove sometimes you’ve gotta just take a leap of faith. 😉

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