Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: Darkness Unbound (Dark Angels #1) by Keri Arthur

Risa Jones is as extraordinary as her heritage. Born from a lab-enhanced clone mother and an Aedh father, she can not only talk to the souls of the dying and the dead, but she can see the reapers and walk the gray fields that divide this world from the next.
They are skill she rarely uses, however, preferring to concentrate on the business she shares with her two best friends. But when her mother asks her to help the parents of a little girl locked in a coma, she reluctantly agrees. What she discovers scares the hell out of her. Because the little girl’s soul no longer resides in her body, and it wasn’t death and the reapers that took her.
Someone had ripped her soul from her flesh.
As it turns out, a creature consuming the souls of the innocent–and not so innocent–is the least of her problems.
Because someone wants to rip open the gates that divided hell from earth, and Risa is a key component in their plans.
And the only person standing between her and disaster is a reaper who isn’t exactly on her side.

The action was gripping, the sex was smoking hot, and the ending was heartbreaking. It would be impossible for me to avoid reading the soon-to-be-released sequel. 

Long time fans of the Riley Jenson Guardian series will be pleased to discover that many of those central characters are present throughout the story. Riley, Quinn, Rhoan, and Liander all make brief appearances during Risa's journey. Even Director Hunter plays a significant role that will carry over into the series sequel.

When we first became familiar with Risa, she was a child not yet trained in using her talents. She was a young Aedh/werewolf with a large amount of potential. Now she is a grown woman and her skills are a bit more polished thanks to the help of her Uncle Quinn. 

There are many new characters introduced and while they don't yet compare to my original favorites, I can certainly see the potential and look forward to learning more about them in the upcoming sequel.

Risa has two roommates, Ilianna and Tao. Ilianna is a powerful witch and mare. Tao is a fire-starter and wolf who is also Risa's sometimes-lover. 

There are two more new additions who are most likely to grab the readers' attention. The first is Azriel, a reaper who is tasked with shadowing Risa. Azriel is mysterious, reserved, with an impressive physique, and a flaming sword named Valdis. 

The other is Lucian, an Aedh Risa meets under unfavorable circumstances. While he can also be described as mysterious, he is very forward in his advances and attraction toward Risa. He becomes the romantic interest, but I use the word "romantic" lightly. Basically they just have a lot of sex. There really isn't much romance to it. 

Risa, with the aide of many other characters, searches to find an evil force known as the soul eater and to discover why her estranged father has unexpectedly reappeared.

Readers not previously familiar with Riley's world may feel slightly overwhelmed with some of the terms weaved throughout the story with minimal explanation - the Fravardin guardian spirits, the Aedh, the Helki werewolves, the Directorate, etc. While you're learning these terms, you also have to absorb the new information received from Azriel about his world, the Mijai, the gates, and the keys.

The dialogue was occasionally stilted and predictable. There were several scenes that fell a little flat, in my opinion, and often caused some eye rolls on my part. Other minor irritations were the constant touching of Risa's back/spine and the constant friendly kissing on the cheeks and lips. This begins to slowly fade toward the middle of the book, but it's used frequently enough to become bothersome. 

Overall, I enjoyed "Darkness Unbound" and I plan to read "Darkness Rising" once it releases later this month. I'm curious to see how the events at the story's conclusion will work out in future installments.


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