I picked Queen of Shadows up with the expectation of it being a "safety zone" kind of read. Something that I have read a million times before, something so predictable I could jump around if I wanted to and not miss a beat, something that I would enjoy but wouldn’t really excite or wow me. In fact I had taken it off of my TBR shelf twice before finally letting it sit there. I just knew what would happen. Wrong. Wrong. WRONG!Queen of Shadows had me pacing in my living room, biting my non-existence nails, and grunting like a cave man. It had the same ingredients that most PNR have but were other PNR would have taken those ingredients and made a casserole, Dianne Sylvan made a 5 course meal. The world building, even if it was just Texas, was great. I could see the alley that Miranda walked down after every show; I could picture David with his pint of Ben & Jerry's. I could probably draw you a pretty detailed, yet extremely hideous picture of the Haven. It was just that detailed. But the details didn't overwhelm or bore you. They kind of bypassed the part of your brain that scream "I’m reading this" and went straight to the sensory part of the brain. I've never been to Texas and I thought that it was really cool that Sylvan was able to make it so real for me.The story was not necessarily unique but it had its own take on your typical girl meets powerful vampire, they fall in love, they fight bad guys they live die happily ever after. Miranda wasn't some damsel in distress. Even though she was gang raped and beat to a pulp in an alley she took the amount of time necessary to decide that wasn't here determining moment in life. She took it upon herself to practice when David wasn't teaching her to control her empathy abilities, and she went to Faith on her own to ask about self-defense. I've said it a million times before but I LOVE a character who is real. A character who doesn't know everything; one who has been scratch and bruised but not broken; and that is exactly who Miranda was. I loved everything about Miranda and I think that without her it would have been your run of the mill same-shit-different-day PNR. Then you have the vampires of the story. Faith and David were what you expect from vampires in any PNR. The killed (when necessary), they drank to a point, and they had your typical “I’ve known you way too long” kind of relationship. But again Sylvan has taken the run of the mill kind of vampires and revamped (ha see what I just did there) them into something more. David was compassionate. He didn’t walk around with a grin on his face or a song in his heart but he understood and valued the life of everyone and he let his beliefs been know; and when the head vampire in charge tells you how he feels then dammit you nod your head and say yes sire. He didn’t handle insubordination with repeated chances he broke every bone in your body then cut off your head. Faith was the same way. She took no prisoners when someone broke the law but she was also kind and honest when Miranda needed a friend and when David wouldn’t listen to reason. These are the kinds of vampires I yearn to read in other books. Fictional characters, but real enough for me to appreciate the fact that they can kill before I can blink and laugh within the same timeframe. The plot was cool and it had some twist that I honestly did not see coming (and I am smarter than your average bear). What I’m happiest about is how the whole “war” didn’t take over the entire book. It wasn’t overbearing. You knew it was coming you saw the bodies, heard the screams but it wasn’t given away with every single sentence. The balance of David and Miranda’s love, constant betrayals, and body counts was perfect. No one topic was king but everything blended in a way that made you acknowledge and appreciate each part respectively. I’m excited to read the next one but I want to savor the vision of Miranda cutting off that final head and making that declaration on that last page.