Darkness Unbound (Dark Angels, Book 1)
I was a little afraid to pick up Keri Arthur’s newest series. I wasn’t that pleased with her most recent Myth and Magic book, and I was hoping very hard that it wasn’t the sign of an author who had run out of ideas. Thankfully, after taking a deep breath and picking up the first Risa title, my fears were put to rest. Darkness Unbound returns to the world of the Riley Jensen books, with characters old and new.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Being half werewolf and half Aedh, Risa Jones can enter the twilight realms between life and death and see the reapers, supernatural beings that collect the souls of the dead. But she soon makes a terrifying discovery: Some sinister force is stealing souls, preventing the dead from ever knowing the afterlife.
Reapers escort souls—not snatch them—but Risa is still unnerved when a reaper shadows her in search of someone Risa has never met: her own father, an Aedh priest, who is rumored to be tampering with the gates of hell for a dark purpose. With the help of her “aunt”—half-werewolf, half-vampire Riley Jenson—and an Aedh named Lucian who may have lost his wings but none of his sex appeal, Risa must pursue whatever shadowy practitioner of blood magic is seizing souls, and somehow stop her father . . . before all hell breaks loose.”
This novel has a good balance of its various elements. There’s a healthy dose of action, a few sexual interludes, and some character growth. No one aspect dominates the narrative, and although this is most definitely a paranormal romance, it’s not one that pushes the main character into situations where that is all that the reader gets to see.
It was interesting to have Risa as the main character, given that she showed up a few times in the Riley Jensen series. It lends it a real “passing of the torch” feeling, even though Riley, her brother Rhoan, and vampire Quinn all make appearances, along with a slightly larger part played by Risa’a mother. I actually liked the way it helped me ease into having a new voice as the main character. Riley’s series ran for several years, and it would be jarring to come back to the same world and not have some kind of transition.
New readers can probably start with this series and not have to backtrack to the previous one, although of course prior knowledge gives you more insight into how everyone relates. Arthur slips in enough details about werewolves, vampires, and the Directorate that someone new to Arthur’s story won’t feel lost. In fact, much of the book follows events that sidestep a lot of the issues from the previous series. Risa being only half werewolf negates the driving need to mate during the full moon, and that not only gives her more freedom of movement, but it allows the story to concentrate on matters other than werewolf sex.
I’m glad to see Arthur return to the world that she created, because I enjoyed the Riley Jensen books and their characters. By the novel’s end, things have been shaken up so badly that it’s clear that nothing will be the same. I can’t wait to continue the story and see how everything plays out. Darkness Unbound begins a series with a heroine who struggles with her youth but stands up for herself admirably through many trials. If you’re looking for some action spiced with a little bit of racy frolicking, this is the book for you.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on February 12, 2012.