Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Darkness Watching by Emma Adams

The Basics:

Darkness Watching by Emma Adams
Curiosity Quills Press
Book One of the Darkworld Trilogy
New Adult, Young Adult
Published October 10, 2013

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn is one interview away from her future when she first sees the demons. She thinks she's losing her mind, but the truth is far more frightening: she can see into the Darkworld, the home of spirits- and the darkness is staring back. 

Desperate to escape the demons, Ash accepts a place at a university in the small town of Blackstone, in the middle of nowhere - little knowing that it isn't coincidence that led her there but the pull of the Venantium, the sorcerers who maintain the barrier keeping demons from crossing from the Darkworld into our own world. 

All-night parties, new friendships and a life without rules or limits are all part of the package of student life - but demons still stalk Ash, and their interest in her has attracted the attention of every sorcerer in the area. Ash is soon caught between her new life and a group of other students with a connection to the Darkworld, who could offer the answers she's looking for. The demons want something from her, and someone is determined to kill her before she can find out what it is. In a world where darkness lurks beneath the surface, not everyone is what they appear to be...

What worked for me:

This book has a lot of great, big ideas: Demons. The people who can see them. A self-appointed secret organization to police said people. Using college to re-define oneself/start over without the weight of high school impressions. The heroine being targeted by a murderer. There's a lot going on here, and it all comes together in a relatively interesting package - which is lukewarm praise, I know. 

Ashlyn has an interesting emotional journey both within this book and as implied by the aftermath of this book's events. Armed with more information about herself, I'm curious to see how Ashlyn gets on from the point where things end in this book.

What didn't work for me:

I didn't feel any urgency in this book. Now, I had to read it in a bit here and a bit there - but if I'd been really interested, I could have stolen time in longer increments to finish it. still, I didn't necessarily get the real rhythm of the book because I couldn't read it in big batches. But never did I really feel like there were dire consequences on the horizon. 

Somewhere in the middle:

The cast of characters varied from mildly interesting to expected YA-type tropes. There's a hazy love triangle set-up, there's an anti-heroine female character, a pair of adequate potential new best friends in the form of flatmates. Surprisingly, Ashlyn retains her best friend from high school (despite, by her own admission, having withdrawn emotionally of late), which is a nice change over either being surrounded by high school friends or completely dropping everyone upon entering the hallowed halls of post-secondary education. It's also a far more realistic portrayal of that transition than either of those two usual depictions.

There wasn't *enough* of anyone for me to really connect - or not - with them. And that was the rough impression I had of the whole book. Lots of material sketched out, but I never felt like I was sinking into it all. 

Bottom line:

Lots of good ideas, but Darkness Watching only scratches the surface. I'll definitely try the second book in the series, but I'm going to need more oomph to push through to the third. Overall, not a bad read, so check it out with moderate expectations.

3.5 stars
For fans of urban fantasy, of demons in their fantasy, of college-age adventures

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