Book Review: The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

February 7, 2010 Books, Reviews 0

The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

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Description:Atlanta: it’s the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil….

Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She’s recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.’s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim — but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?

This review is based on a free, review copy received from the publisher.

TDF Pamela’s Review:

Barring a few stumbles, this is a solid urban fantasy debut with inventive worldbuilding and an exciting storyline. The protagonist, Charlie Madigan, is a specially trained police officer who deals with offworlder crime. She loves her daughter very much, and is very conflicted about her ex-husband, whom she left after she found out he was dealing in black magic. Charlie and her partner Hank are by far the most fleshed out characters in this book. Unfortunately the supporting cast are pretty flat, even characters that should have more depth, like Charlie’s sister and daughter. Charlie herself gets a bit frustrating with her tendency to overthink everything, but the more I thought about it, the more it makes sense for her. She’s a single mother with an incredibly dangerous, stressful job thrown into an even more dangerous, stressful situation. As much as I wanted to yell at her to just DO something, it’s probably a more mature response to think hard. I just hope that in future books, she takes a bit more of a chance occasionally. Nevermind that leaping before looking often creates tense situations that work well in this sort of book.

The story and world are both well-developed. I like the way that Gay has created the parallel worlds of Elysia and Charybdon, but has left them for the most part a mystery. I think this bodes well for future books set in this series; you don’t want to give away all of the good stuff at the start. The main plotline of the book revolves around ash, a mysterious drug that’s been putting people in a coma all over Atlanta, but as the centerpiece of the mystery, ash surprisingly doesn’t play that big a part in the overall story. It’s overshadowed by the dangerous game that Charlie realizes she’s been a part of ever since her death and seemingly-miraculous return to life. On top of the offworlder entanglements, Charlie’s daughter has been kidnapped, and so not only must she uintangle the mystery and fast, she has to do it to save her child.

The Better Part of Darkness is an exciting read that only occasionally feels a bit too busy. I’ll most likely pick up the sequel when it comes out.

TDF Pamela’s Rating: