TITLE: Innocent Darkness
AUTHOR: Suzanne Lazear
SERIES: Aether Chronicles
PAGES: 408 (Paperback)
PUBLISHER: Flux (Aug 8th 2012)
Note: An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
For a book that had such an intriguing premise, this barely lived up to my expectations and it got to the point where I put the book down and didn’t pick it up again. As it is, I consider it a valiant effort that I managed to get through three quarters of it, although if you are keen on a quick – if insubstantial – read then you may find this novel much more enjoyable.
Innocent Darkness is the story of Magnolia ‘Noli’ Braddock, a rebellious young woman with a flair for mechanics and rule-breaking. After an accident that could have ended catastrophically she is sent off to a strict boarding school for troubled young women, where she accidentally is transported to the ‘Otherworld’ and taken in by Kevighn, a gorgeous, if a little mysterious, faerie. But Kevighn is actually the Queen’s huntsman, charged with the job of capturing a young girl with the Spark as a sacrifice to save the realm. However, Noli’s best friend Steven, or ‘V’ as she calls him, has a few secrets of his own, and he is determined to save her before it’s too late.
Innocent Darkness desperately needs a few more rounds of edits, and as such feels almost unfinished when reading it. The pages are riddled with spelling errors and grammatical faults, not to mention the jumpy transitions between characters and repeated sentences that were blatantly the same behind the synonyms used. There were also quite a few annoying contradictions that crept up in Noli’s narrative, and I found myself getting frustrated at her flippant nature.
Despite my misgivings I actually felt a dash of empathy for Noli, and at some parts I actually liked her character. She was shrewd, curious and at times would show a confidence that evoked a rush of pride for her. But, there are only so many good qualities you can give a character before they start becoming too perfect. She had the traits previously mentioned, but she was also extremely beautiful, gifted, and in possession of the largest amount of Spark Kevighn has felt in a long time. As this was revealed Noli began to feel more like a dream than an actual person, and I could myself slowly losing interest in her and her plight.
The plot of this book is almost childish in its ideas and language, yet at times the author seemed to throw in random sentences about opium and ‘soft women’ as if trying to show us that yes, this is a young adult novel. The characters and the world seemed to naïve to have things like this pop up, and rather than appearing to mature the novel it just felt quite desperate made me feel vaguely perturbed.
The romance between Noli and Kevighn was not a strong point in this novel, it came across as quite superficial and almost too…I don’t know, fairy-tale like? Though Kevighn has captured hundreds of girls, all who were beautiful and talented, he can’t help but fall over himself for Noli and allow her break down all his barriers within only a few days. He is relatively underdeveloped, erratically spouting bits of seemingly important yet useless information in between brooding and indulging in his opium and soft women. His motives and purpose seemed very vague, and I can only guess that he is being left deliberately ambiguous for the next book in this series.
A slow read, this book would need a lot more work for me to find it suitable for general consumption in the young adult book market. However, even if it can be saved I think I will be staying away from this author’s work in the near future.