Book Review: Minutes Before Sunset

“He hadn’t smiled since mom died. I wasn’t allowed to smile either. In fact, our whole community didn’t smile. At six years old, I didn’t understand, because I couldn’t understand, but I would later. I knew that much.” 

So begins Shannon Thompson’s engaging fantasy novel Minutes Before Sunset and what a turn up for the books it is. An ideal gift for any teenage fantasy/supernatural fan, Thompson’s writing is easy to follow and even easier to be drawn into.

The official blurb for the book is this:

“She was undoubtedly a shade, but I didn’t know her.

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

He had gotten so close to me—and I couldn’t move—I couldn’t get away.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.”


This gives a pretty good introduction to the plot line of Thompson’s story as well as the feel for her writing style. It’s classical teen fantasy writing which comes as no surprise when you realise the author has only just left her teenage years behind.

Indebted to her mother – Shannon Thompson’s life

It is clear that this young author feels a debt of gratitude to her mother who taught her to ‘write for yourself and edit for others’. I personally think this is inspired advice for anyone and Shannon certainly took it to heart. Her mother passed away when Shannon was eleven but the young author continues to write for her to this day. Thompson published her first book November Snow when she was sixteen. Minutes Before Sunset  is her second. In all, she has eight books in various stages of preparation for publication.  All this despite the fact Shannon is only 22 and currently finishing her degree in English at the University of Kansas.

I’m quite astonished by how much this young lady has achieved in such a short time. Actually, it might be truer to say I’m jealous! I’m still awaiting the publication of my own novel and I’m 42. Shannon’s presence on social media has also made sure the book has been widely read, reviewed and shared which has seen it rise up the book ratings at speed. Not only does Thompson write well, she knows how to win a loyal audience too.

My Thoughts about Minutes Before Sunset

I do like some fantasy fiction – usually either classics such as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or humorous like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series – but I’m not a big fan of neo-gothic teen fantasies which are all the rage. While I loved Anne Rice‘s re-imagining of the Dracula myth back in the 80s the current run of Vampire Diaries and the like leave me cold.

I undertook reading Minutes Before Sunset then, as a labour of love for a young author whose blog I already followed and who I wanted to support. I expected I would wade through the book reluctantly and find myself searching for nice things to say about it. I was wrong.

In fact, within the first 20 pages or so, I was hooked. The surly Eric Welborn character (secretly in pain from the past and weighed down by the burden of high expectations) was one which resonated with memories of my own teenage years – though I had no prophecy over me insisting I was to fight and save the world! I suspect all male teenagers will sympathise with Eric’s feelings even without his supernatural powers. The character of Jessica I found harder to warm to and would have liked more grit to her background, nevertheless, she was believable and though it was obvious what was to come, I was not disappointed with her role. Both of them are characters which teenagers will relate to.

The book is not perfect. There are a few grammatical errors and Shannon’s use of speech certainly isn’t the way I’d do it. But these are small quibbles and ones I quickly forgot about as I got deeper into the story. Even with them, her writing is remarkable and way beyond her years. The plot is clear, the characters consistent and, overall, I found the book compelling. When I finished it I found myself disappointed the story had come to an end. Thompson certainly left this reader ‘wanting more’. What more can I writer hope for?

The book does not stand alone but is part of the Timely Death series. I’m very much looking forward to the next instalment – Seconds Before Sunrise which is due out later this year.

If you would like to try Minutes Before Sunset for yourself, you can read a preview by clicking this link (it will open a PDF file on another page): Minutes Before Sunset Preview.

You can buy a full copy on here.

or here.

You can follow Shannon Thompson’s progress on her blog


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