Darkness Becomes Her looks like your run-of-the-mill paranormal romance, right? It’s dark and gothy and you’re pretty sure the heroine is going to be a weepy emo princess. Well, color me surprised when I started reading this and the heroine, Ari, was swearing like a sailor from the first page and clearly did not let anyone fuck with her. This book is smarter than your average paranormal romance.
First, let’s talk about Ari. I fell in love with her from the first page just because of her attitude. Ari is awesome, okay? She grew up being bounced between foster homes and is currently being raised by a couple of bounty hunters, who are teaching her the trade. That means Ari kicks a lot of ass. (Though she’s not a superhero – the fighting is described pretty realistically, with Ari making up for her small stature by outsmarting opponents and kneeing them in the groin a lot.) I was a little skeptical when she described her odd appearance, though. Ari has silver Rapunzel-style hair which can’t be cut or dyed, teal eyes (not blue, TEAL), and a small tattoo of a crescent moon under her eye. That’s like every Mary Sue fanfiction character ever! Luckily, Ari’s personality and tenacity is enough to make up for it.
Oh, God. I’d just killed a man – my fingers flexed on the hilt of the blade – with a goddamn, fucking-ass, miniature sword.
How can you not love that?
The mythology in the book is a little bit weird. Darkness Becomes Her is the first book in the “Gods and Monsters” series, and that’s the weird thing. In this world there are vampires, warlocks, AND Greek gods. It’s a little bit Percy Jackson, a little bit Twilight, and a little bit Dresden Files. I don’t hate it, but it was a little bit confusing figuring out how the vampires fit in with Athena and so on. What I did love was the setting of “New 2”, which used to be New Orleans before a devastating hurricane destroyed the city beyond repair. Most people left, but the supernatural community moved in to make it their home. New Orleans is always such a great supernatural background, and the descriptions of the Garden District and the French Quarter are beautiful. It’s so fitting and it really enhances the tone of the book. Everything’s kind of creepy and old and beautiful and strange.
The thing that didn’t really ring true for me, sadly, was the romance. First, I was disappointed that Ari’s love interest was NOT Henri, the sexy redhead who looks like Bill Weasley. Of course it was the tall, dark, broody vampire. As far as broody vampires go, Sebastien isn’t so bad. He’s actually not a full-on vamp since he’s never fed on blood and he’s not a creeper.
“You’re a vampire.” I laughed.
“Half,” he came back, as if there was a huge difference. “My father wasn’t a vampire. He was a Lamarliere. I’m not some three hundred-year-old pervert who kisses teenage girls, okay? I’m the same age as you. Born just like you.”
Twilight dig! So yeah, Sebastien isn’t a hundred years old macking it with a seventeen-year-old. But unfortunately he doesn’t have much else going for him. He makes it his business to help Ari find information about her mother and to protect her, but he doesn’t have much of a personality. He’s a nice guy. Just boring. And the way Ari fell right into his spell after knowing him for like, a day? Zzzzzzzz. I understand that he has Sexy Vampire Powers that totally make girls want him, but that’s kind of lame and I just wasn’t invested in their relationship at all.
Finally, while I really enjoyed the book most of the time, sometimes it got really cheesy (usually during the romantic parts). There was such a radical change in tone sometimes, from tough, take-no-shit Ari to… well, someone who would say this:
A burst of confetti shot through my stomach as I studied [Sebastien’s] profile.
Really? I don’t want to rain too much on Kelly Keaton’s parade here, because I did like the book a lot, largely due to the great heroine she wrote. I just hated when Ari would switch into this melodramatic, angsty-poetry, bad-analogy mode. It seemed out of character and kind of shoehorned in because there HAD to be a romance, right? I could have done without it.
So would I recommend this book? You bet I would, just for the kickass heroine. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun and has some great “fuck yeah!” moments. If you’re into the supernatural/mythology thing, or love books with strong female characters, you’ll probably like it.
Darkness Becomes Her is available in bookstores now. I received an e-galley for review from Simon & Schuster.