Darkness Becomes Her (ARC) by Kelly Keaton
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub. Date: February 22nd 2011
Series: Gods & Monsters, #1
Age Level: 14/15+
Source: Gift from Lisa
Synopsis via Goodreads
A dark and lush paranormal romance set in a richly reimagined New Orleans—now in paperback!Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.
Her search for answers uncovers a message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.
She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very...different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.
Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.
Highly original and lushly atmospheric, this exciting story fully encompassed every part of me, leaving me surrounded by distinct characters and the charismatic setting of a New Orleans re-imagined.
Ari was a strong, mature heroine and I connected with her immediately. Her dry wit and subtle fierceness along with her desire to belong and know the truth about her life, past, and family made her quite lovable for me. The only thing that really bugged me was how fast the romance bloomed between Ari and Sebastian; the timing just was not realistic but that seems to be the case with almost all paranormal books I read these days. As for Sebastian, he was a bit too broody moody in the beginning for my taste but I grew to like him rather quickly. There was a moment towards the end where I hated him and was calling him obscenities, but then I realized why he did what he did and took it back. He turned out to be quite a loyal and respectable love interest. There was a slew of impeccably crafted supporting characters as well. My favorite was easily Violet who was at first a little creepy and then, once I knew her story, became this adorable little thing that was fiercely loyal to Ari and wise for her age. I just wanted to pick her up and hug her. Then, of course, there was her pet white alligator, Pascal. Crank was another that I thought was particularly well done and her back-story was so sad. I couldn't help but admire her for her perseverance. Naturally, there is a villain and she/he shalt not be named but this was one terrible, petty, evil villain, and I fully appreciate a good, so to speak, villain. Josephine, Michel, Dub, Henri and many more rounded off the large cast of great characters. That said, I do want to mention Ari's foster parents briefly. They weren't in the story much at all but it was with them where my admiration for Keaton first started to grow. They were stern but loving and supportive foster parents. It would have been so easy, so tempting, to portray them as a bad part of Ari's life, but she resisted and instead made them in a way that had me wishing they had been there more and feeling bad for them when Ari left.
From the very first page, Darkness Becomes Her had secured my full attention, keeping it under lock and key until the book was over. This is one of only a handful of books that I have read in just one sitting. The only thing I had a problem with was how short a time this story spanned. Honestly, if this book had been 400+ pages, I believe I'd have been quite happy with that. That said, Darkness Becomes Her was so keenly imagined and unique. There were the more common paranormal beings but there was also a fine blend of Greek mythology woven in, and these aspects melded together to create something truly captivating. Add in the intoxicating setting of a New Orleans rising up from the ashes of disaster and Keaton has surely proven she's a woman who knows what she is doing when crafting a story. I absolutely love it when a strong and well built setting plays a dominant role in a book. And as for suspense, I was always wondering what would happen next and while there were maybe a couple of small details I had guessed, the book was almost completely unpredictable. When the secret behind Ari's heritage was revealed all I could think was how dark and twisted it was. While I enjoyed every aspect of this book, from the characters to the writing, it was the plot and setting that reigned supreme when it came to making this book so noteworthy.
As a whole, Keaton has a well developed and consistent writing style that I enjoyed, but what really grabbed my attention was her vivid, detailed use of imagery. Keaton really knew not only how to create a setting, but also how to build that setting up around me--brick by brick, sound by sound, smell by smell--until it's as if I'm looking clearly through the character's eyes and sensing exactly what they are. The fact that I have been to New Orleans once probably helped, but still.
The ending was a grab bag of mixed emotions for me. Worried. Sad. Proud. Confused. Excited. Anxious. Something happened to one of the characters that had me going,"NOOOOOOO!" That said I really liked how Darkness Becomes Her ended as it had me going through a variety of feelings and left me looking forward to finding out where things would go from there. There is nothing worse than an ending in a book that doesn't make you feel something.
All in all, Darkness Becomes Her was an enticing breath of fresh air with its intermingling of traditional paranormal elements, mythology, and atmospheric New Orleans. It is easily one of the best in its genre that I've read in quite a while. I highly recommend this one and suggest that if it sounds even the slightest bit interesting to you, find a way to read it. I, personally, can't wait to get my hands on the sequel, A Beautiful Evil.
1st in Series: B+
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