Michelangelo "Mage" Magistrale is a drifter who makes his way as a freelance photographer. When he meets a mysterious woman named Amanda Sharmon in the small town of Totem Rock, he is drawn into a world of magic and monsters. He is pursued by bakemono under the command of the mysterious Tamenaga Tetsuo. Mage's only ally is stuntman and amateur ninja Charlie Takumo, who claims to be the natural son of Charles Manson. They are later joined by public defender Kelly Barbet.
This novel contains examples of the following tropes
- Australian Accent: At one point Takumo refers to a group of 'bikies'. Americans call members of motorcycle clubs 'bikers'
- Artistic License Religion: In Shadows Bite, Solomon Tudor (sorcerer) accepts "An it harm none, do what thou wilt" as what Aleister Crowley said was the Whole of the Law. Crowley actually said "Do what thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law." "An it Harm None" was added by Gerald Gardner, and while Wiccans and several other groups of neopagans use that version, they do not tend to cite Crowley, nor do Thelemites use Gardner's version.
- Ascended Extra: Shadows Bite stars Takumo and Kelly Barbet, while Mage has only a minor role.
- Meaningful Name: Michelangelo 'Mage' Magistrale starts out as an itinerant photographer, but learns to do magic over the course of the book.
- Ninja: Takumo aspires to be a ninja, and several of Tamenaga's minions too
- Our Vampires Are Different: The vampires in Shadows Bite have strength, speed, and healing, and can only be killed by decapitation or burning. They have the bite of ecstasy power, and can turn people simply by draining them and leaving them. They also have the power attributed to many Eastern European vampires of being able to chew on their own flesh and drain blood from living relatives.
- Poisoned Weapon: Darts, shuriken, and fingernails. The poison used is never specified.
- Stock Ninja Weaponry: Takumo has pretty much a full set. He is see using the ninjato, Shuriken, neko-te and kusarigama. Tamenaga uses a pair of manriki-gusari, while the ninja in his employ used poisoned needles as well as shuriken and ninjato
- Yakuza: Tamenaga is a high ranking member of the Yakuza