Double review

‘Darkness Trilogy’ – L. M. Justus

L. M. Justus

L. M. Justus

About the author:

Lisa Justus’ path to becoming an author took a circuitous route through the University of Waterloo where she earned a Bachelor of Mathematics, followed by jobs in quality assurance and technical writing at a high-tech company. With a keen interest in creative fiction, she wrote her first fantasy novel as part of NaNoWriMo as well as an early chapter book for her kids when they were younger. Welcome to the Darkness and Darkness Reigns are the first two books of the Darkness Trilogy, a young adult paranormal fantasy.

These days Lisa is busy writing her next novel, reading, finishing her basement, doing volunteer work, and trying to stay in shape by running somewhat regularly. She, her husband, and their three children live in Ottawa, Ontario.

Author links:

Facebook / Twitter / Web / Goodreads

‘Welcome to the Darkness’ (Book One)

3-star-rating

Welcome to the Darkness

Welcome to the Darkness

A typical teenager, seventeen-year-old Reed Hennessy doesn’t realize how lucky he is to lead a normal life until he loses everything, including his humanity. The attacker who slaughters his family and destroys their home turns out to be a vampire, a creature Reed had considered a myth.

Now a vampire himself, but with the unique ability to walk in sunlight, Reed struggles in the dark underworld he didn’t even know existed. His only two allies in his fight to stay alive are his reluctant mentor, Nathaniel, a vampire with over two hundred years’ worth of emotional baggage, and Sarah, a rookie cop with a secret ability of her own. 

Together, Reed and his companions face a harrowing, cross-country journey before stumbling into a plot which could mean the end of everything for humans and vampires alike.

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Review:

This is an enjoyable, solid read and I found it very easy to get in to. What let the book down for me was the fact the story did not always “hang” together and I found some of the plot developments just a little bit unconvincing.

Undoubtedly, the plot of ‘Welcome to the Darkness’ moves rapidly which is a definite bonus with so many vampire stories available to read. Justus certainly puts a unique spin on vampires with features such as their saliva healing puncture wounds, going into a “death sleep” after feeding and Reed’s different abilities. This really kept me interested and I liked the originality that this gave. It didn’t take me long to get hooked into the story and I was surprised at how quickly I raced through it.

On the other hand, some parts of the plot are less convincing. The nativity of Sarah, Reed and the vampire hunters in taking down the vampire King was quite frustrating and I couldn’t quite believe how blinded they were to the obvious! I think this went hand in hand with character development: whilst Justus gives readers lots of information about the principle vampire characters, we are lacking such depth with Sarah and the other humans. Sarah is a cop who readily gives up her life to go with Reed without second thoughts and we barely hear anything about her missing her old way of life or what the consequences could be when she returned.

One other thing that bugged me about this read was how there were jumps in time but this wasn’t reflected in the formatting. I agree this might have been because I was reading a review copy so hope this is taken on board. The lack of indication that significant time had passed just added to my feelings that the story became a little far fetched.

However, that being said, I did enjoy reading ‘Welcome to the Darkness’ and found Nathaniel’s character quite amusing, particularly with some of the out-modes words he uses. The distance he keeps from others gradually changes over the story and I liked how he grew to feel protective over Reed.

This is a pretty good read and I look forward to reading the next in the series. I wonder whether ‘Welcome to the Darkness’ is more of a prequel, laying the foundations for the next novel. The blurb looks promising for the next book so I look forward to making the comparisons.

This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

‘Darkness Reigns’ – Book Two

3-star-rating

Darkness Reigns

Darkness Reigns

New York City is a wasteland. More than eight million people are dead or worse…infected.

After their failed attempt to stop the spread of a virus that turns people into zombie-like, human-vampire hybrids, Reed Hennessy and his ragtag crew are scrambling to stay alive. To make matters worse, the human authorities are close to proving the existence of vampires and blaming them for the disaster in New York.

Their storm of trouble is already spinning out of control when an old enemy reappears to issue a challenge–an ultimatum that will mean certain death for at least one member of Reed’s group. With their mountain of problems growing exponentially and a host of enemies closing in, they flee for their lives, desperate for a miracle. Will they survive and avoid the world’s scrutiny, or will darkness prevail?

Review:

Continuing straight where ‘Welcome to the Darkness’ concludes, this follow-on novel follows in the same vein. This time the action moves away from New York to Montreal as the gang attempt to leave behind the devastation caused by the vampire King of New York.

I certainly found this book better than the first but still felt that there was more plot and character development needed. Once again I found myself distrusting the motives of key characters, such as the King of Montreal and hoped there was more betrayal than what was eventually offered. I think my imagination added to my enjoyment of this story because I hungered for that extra depth and I found it a shame that Justus couldn’t quite deliver on this score.

The novel’s blurb reminded me of zombie films like ’28 Days Later’ and ‘Resident Evil’ but there was minimal focus on what has happened to the citizens of New York. I was hoping this would be more pivotal to the plot but with the virus killing off the humans-turned-zombies in a matter of days, the author neatly puts this out of focus, instead moving forwards with Reed and Nathaniel’s quest of escaping from the Queen of San Jose’s threats.

There were some unexpected twists and turns in this story and I enjoyed following Sarah’s character, particularly in the last third of the book. As Reed gets used to being a vampire, it is clear that he still desires to be human again and this is what sets readers up for the final book in the trilogy.

This book was given another three stars because there was still opportunity for plot development. As this wasn’t quite there throughout the story, it became a very quick read to get through. I guess this makes it more ideal for the teenage/young adult readership and can imagine they would enjoy it more. But, from an adult perspective, I think this was an average read and good for a lazy afternoon.

This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Buy links:

Amazon / B&N

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A vampire story with a difference

‘Tragic Silence’ – E. C. Hibbs

3-star-rating

Tragic Silence - E. C. Hibbs

Tragic Silence – E. C. Hibbs

When tragedy strikes Bianka Farkas one night in her native Hungary, she loses more than a friend and her mobility. Some things are harder to understand. Waking up in a hospital, Bee struggles to remember exactly what happened the night she was attacked and witnessed a brutal murder. Memories of a mysterious figure plague her as well as bizarre and terrifying changes in her over the next few years. Facing this new horrifying reality with a surprising ally, Bee finally has the chance to take her revenge but at what cost?

Goodreads

About the author:

E. C. Hibbs

E. C. Hibbs

E. C. Hibbs has lived all her life in Cheshire, north-west England. A lover of stories from an early age, she wrote her first ‘book’ when she was five, and throughout school was a frequent visitor to the younger classes to read her tales to the children.

Living so near the coast, she loves anything to do with the sea. She studied Animal Behaviour at university and longs to work with marine mammals in the future. As well as nature and animals, she also has a soft spot for history, and loves paying visits to castles, cathedrals and museums.

There are many things she could be without, but writing isn’t one of them. She carries a pen everywhere, in case an idea appears, and takes pride in still seeing the world as brimming with magic. Besides writing, she reads obsessively, her favourite genres being the classics and all kinds of fantasy. She also enjoys Disney and horror films, practising Shotokan karate, drawing, archery, and playing with her very cheeky kitten.

Author links:

Facebook / Twitter / Web / Goodreads

Review:

When I realised this was a vampire story, I was expecting something along the lines of biting humans, beautiful and ageless vampires with turning humans thrown in along the way. But ‘Tragic Silence’ is very different to previous vampire stories I have read and it was refreshing to read this alternate take on such a popular genre.

Set in Budapest, readers are presented with Bianka who has suffered seeing her best friend murdered by a vampire. She is hospitalised and deeply traumatised by the experience. Through flashbacks, we understand how Bianka lands in hospital and who the horrifying figure is that is haunting her. The opening chapters really focuses on Bianka and her experiences and this sets up the narrative for the rest of the novel. Whilst it is a first person narrative, Bianka’s telling of the story makes this rather densely descriptive, to the extent that I found it distracted me from the action when it happened. That being said, you get a true insight into her character but because it was so heavy with her thoughts and feelings, I found the narrative became a little tedious in places and prevented me from enjoying the plot development as much.

I really enjoyed the fact that this is primarily set in Budapest. I rarely read stories set so far away from home and though the plot moves to London, Hibbs keeps up the cultural references with different names for vampires and smatterings of Hungarian dialogue. This is another feature that makes ‘Tragic Silence’ a refreshing read because this is so unexpected. It works well with the different vampire angle that Hibbs offers and it helped maintain my interest in the story.

What really makes this a vampire story with a difference is how the whole process of turning into a vampire is presented. Bianka’s boyfriend, Frank, plays a key role in telling her all about the change and his explanations were really intriguing. So unusual, I liked the whole process that was presented and the entire lack of certainty, even for our protagonist, Bianka.

My rating of three stars reflects the dense narrative in this plot from Bianka’s perspective. This is an interesting vampire story but I found her voice too present in the story and this certainly slowed the pace down. There are lots of features in this novel that make it stand out from other vampire stories and this makes the read more enjoyable. Not one in a series, it made a change to read something with a conclusive ending, and this is something I definitely applaud the author for! Definitely give this a go if you like vampire stories because this is so different, but just anticipate the slower narrative.

This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Give-aways:

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Buy link:

Click here to get yourself a copy of ‘Tragic Silence’.

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A slow burner with a surprising ending

‘Unbound’ – Georgia Bell

3-star-rating

Unbound - Georgia Bell

Unbound – Georgia Bell

After her father dies, Rachel realizes she is scared and stuck. Scared of heights, of cars, of disasters harming the people she loves. Stuck in a life that is getting smaller by the minute. Stuck with a secret she has kept all her life: Someone has been watching over her since birth. Someone who tends to show up when she needs him the most. Someone she believes is her guardian angel.

Eaden is a 1,500-year-old immortal who wants to die. Drained by a life stretched too thin, he has requested his final reward – a mortal sacrifice bred specifically to bring him death. But something went wrong. Rachel’s ability to grant death has mutated in ways that threaten to upset the uneasy alliance between mortals and immortals. And utterly beguiled, Eaden discovers that although Rachel is the key to his death, because of her, he no longer wants to die. And he will do anything to protect her.

Swept into a world of legends, caught between the warring political factions of immortals, and carrying the future of mortal kind in her flesh and bone, Rachel must risk everything to save her world and the man she loves.

Goodreads

About the author:

Georgia Bell

Georgia Bell

Georgia Bell was raised on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy, courtesy of her father, a man who loved his family, fishing, scotch, and science (although not necessarily in that order). Georgia is an avid reader of young adult fiction, and a lover of good wine, music, children, and cats (although not necessarily in that order).

Author links:

 Twitter / Web / Goodreads

Review:

I have to admit, I struggled getting into ‘Unbound’ and found it difficult to connect with the characters. However, as the plot developed, I found myself drawn into this unknown world of immortals and about halfway through started to get into this book and enjoy it. By the time I reached the final chapters, the unexpected conclusion was a pleasant surprise and left me wondering what the next book brings. This, I think, redeemed ‘Unbound’ for me.

‘Unbound’ is very character driven and there is a lot of focus on how Rachel feels towards her life and losses, her insecurities, and finally her relationship with Eaden. Bell really hammers the point of living your life rather than standing back and watching others have a good time and this made me feel really sorry for Rachel and what she has clearly missed out on. Being so isolated from others and doubting herself because of her sightings of an unusual man throughout her life, Rachel comes across as a social outsider and someone who yearns for the love and friendship that was lost when her dad died. She has even resorted to counselling and the awkwardness Rachel feels when trying to explain Eaden to her counsellor without her sounding delusional, is really reflected onto the reader; I found myself desperately hoping her counsellor would understand Rachel and not make judgements!

Sympathy for Rachel aside, the transformation she undergoes after meeting Eaden is a fresh of breath air and she shows an interest in life once more. Bell transforms Rachel’s character from being a wallflower to a a determined and brave young woman. The journey she goes on with Eaden takes readers into the realms of witches and magic. The witches go with Rachel to London for a final show-down and I was hoping that they featured more in the plot development, so I wonder if this will be the case in the next book.

I found this novel a bit of a “plodder” and slow to start enjoying. As I have already mentioned, the conclusion was a surprise and one that left me really curious about what will happen in the next story. Personally I feel that the start of the book could have been shorter and the ending expanded upon. Adding to the concluding plot twist, this would have given more action to the plot and what I think would make this more of an enjoyable read. As such, I feel that ‘Unbound’ is more like a prequel to the following stories as characters and events have now been set up.

I don’t think I would necessarily read this book again but would be interested to see what happens next to the characters. The story is quite unique and I like the hints that are suggested for the next book. Don’t be put off by the slow start, as you might find you really start to enjoy this read and can’t put it down.

This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

To get yourself a copy of the book, click here.

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