Dark Child (Omnibus Edition) by Adina West
|Book Name:||Dark Child (Omnibus Edition)|
|Formatt:||Paperback / eBook|
|Genre(s):||Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance|
|Release Date:||June 1, 2013|
Urban/paranormal fantasy? Female protagonist? Vampires and werewolves?
I know what you’re thinking. It’s going to be tough to get through this without making the obvious comparison. So I won’t even try.
Twilight happened. For good or for ill, let’s accept it and move on.
Still with me? Good. You won’t be sorry.
The last time I ventured into this genre to see what the fuss what about it was for the first of Stephanie Meyer’s wildly popular series. I haven’t been back since. I love vampires and werewolves as much as anybody (The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is a beautiful literary spin on the Dracula myth, and who doesn’t love a little of TV’s True Blood?), but Twilight seemed to boil everything that was interesting and fun about those creatures down to abs vs sparkles vs very little actual story. It simply wasn’t for me.
When Dark Child appeared on my radar I admit my fingers twitched for the stake and silver bullets. But as a big fan of the publisher Momentum, I decided that maybe this was the time to put away the garlic and try again.
I’m happy to say that it was worth it.
The official blurb says:
Kat can run a marathon without breaking a sweat. Catch anything you throw at her. Differentiate blood types by smell alone. And she’s spent years hiding the fact. But secrets from the past have a way of slipping out when least expected, and a simple blood test is enough to turn her quiet life in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains upside down forever.
Kat’s been craving raw meat. When she visits a psychic, she’s told her life is about to change forever. Kat isn’t so sure change is a part of her plan, but when a fabulous job offer to work for a research organization comes her way, she’s tempted to say yes and make the move to New York. It just might be her chance to find out if there are others in the world like her…
Perfect for fans of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, this intriguing urban fantasy follows the story of Kat Chanter, who discovers that the world she knows is controlled by ancient creatures who feed on blood. And she might just be one of them.
First the Bad News
To be honest, it takes a while to get to anything I could note as ‘bad news’. However, I should state that I read the Omnibus edition, so was able to simply accept any minor niggles and move on. This book was originally published as a serial (more on that later), so those who read it as such may have had a different experience. I have seen various opinions on how well this worked for different people, but they are not for me to comment on here.
What I can talk about are the areas I felt could have been improved. And these happen mainly in a slower second act, where Kat hides in the mountains with a family of shapeshifting outcasts, and the pace of the story drops away to let us build up character relationships and romantic tension.
I didn’t actually mind this; it was well written, and there was some lovely moments—even if the obligatory love triangle can be seen a mile off, loping through the mountains towards us. But I have to admit I eventually got a little twitchy waiting for the slow-build to pay off.
When it hits…well, it’s great. And surprising. But considering the time spent getting to this moment, I felt it could have been longer. It’s just over too suddenly. And this applies to a couple of other places in the book too. We’re on the edge of a bloody fight, I’m ready to go, eager to get my reading fists dirty…and we’re swept straight to the next part of the story. A little frustrating. But arguably this isn’t the type of book for too much violence so it’s not that difficult to accept.
Otherwise my only other niggle was that the love triangle was far too one-sided—with the surprisingly multi-dimensional bad boy given all the fun and the good guy left to mope around for the most part. But I guess we’ll see how this plays out in later books.
And Now the Good News
Put simply, I enjoyed this book a lot. After Twilight I wasn’t expecting to be able to tolerate these creatures ever again, but Adina West has convinced me to give them another chance. I would also love to thank her for writing a story about vampires and werewolves without once mentioning those words. Brilliant!
The opening is fast-paced and you cannot help but be carried along on Kat’s adventure from her mountain home to the streets of New York and then back again. In fact, it could be argued that the middle section of the book only feels slow because the beginning fairly flies.
The author’s style is really nice and easy-going, and her characters are well drawn from the very beginning. This talent with description also applies to the setting. When used it is minimal, but still manages to convey the feeling of being in the mountains, or sitting with Kat in a cab in New York, passing street upon street of brownstones.
Our main character is also, thankfully, no damsel in distress. She copes perfectly well without men in her life and, even when ending up surrounded by them, turns out to be more than capable of protecting herself—and them. Perhaps this is because she’s an adult and not an angst-ridden teenager, but either way I appreciated this journey more because of the sense of maturity.
This stretches to the rest of the female cast, who all have a degree of strength—whether emotional or physical—that sees them hold their own against the alpha males. And while the men start out as tall, masculine and brooding as you’d expect in this kind of book, we soon discover they are refreshingly not as alpha as they might seem.
The story itself is fun too, without being overly spectacular. It’s certainly set up for a sequel, but the climax is strong enough for me to enjoy it as a standalone, while still wanting to know what happens next. Whether or not it will continue as a serial I don’t know, but I do love the fact that this originated in episodic form. With the high quality of television in the past decade, bringing this format to books is an exciting and bold step. Kudos to Momentum Publishing for trying something different!
Dark Child is a smart, fun adventure with characters I enjoyed spending time with and a plot that actually went places. Regardless of the oversaturation in the market of the creatures involved, thanks mainly to Twilight, this book was everything that particular story wasn’t—in all the best possible ways.