Thursday, 2 September 2010

The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

"Atlanta: it's the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of the heaven-like Elysia and the 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 her job for Atlanta PD's Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta ha 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 is the first book in the Charlie Madigan series. I've had this book on my shelf for a while having heard about it and thought it sounded interesting. But it's only now I've gotten around to reading it and I'm kind of sorry I waited so long. Charlie is a tough cop, a devoted mom, and fairly screwed up by having died a few months previously and having had some very creepy nightmares (and other strange side effect) ever since. When a strange 'off-world' drug, ash, hits too close to home she becomes more determined than ever to find the source and stop it. But the deeper they get in to it, the bigger the mountain they face. They're up against some very powerful opponents and some how Charlie knows it ties back in to her brief death. She's in serious trouble and her skills as a cop are probably not enough to save her, and she's not sure her allies are any more capable. But she'll try anyway.

I really liked this book. Charlie is someone who's dedicated to her job, but also a very loving, devoted mother. It doesn't take long to see that Charlie's world revolves around her daughter, Emma, and that she'd do anything for her. I really like when books show parental type relationships (may just be a child/teen the protagonist finds themselves responsible for) and familial relationships. Sometimes they can really make a book, whether it's a child/teen in an adult book or an adult in a major role in a YA book. It can be a really nice change to read, that level of realness, that extra drive it can give a protagonist that can't come from anything else. For it to work well though, there has to be the right balance, and that does exist here. Emma gets enough page time with her mom and there is enough of Charlie talking/thinking about her as well.

Doesn't stop Charlie from having other issues though. She's got some long buried ones that need dealing with, as well as her recent ones, such as the case she's working on. She's a fairly typical tough cop as well, and I love how she and her partner, Hank, play off each other. They have a clear bond/relationship established and I like getting to see more of it, the deeper in to the book you get. I really liked Hank from the start, although it takes a while to really get to know him.

I liked the world building. The supernaturals being from one of two different worlds/dimensions, both of which have their own tendencies, rules and needs. Not all the information is given at once, but there are some points where some extra back story is needed, and they do drag a little.

There are some good twists and there are a lot of sub plots all tied up together, though you can't see them all to start with. I really felt for Charlie as she had to make some hard decisions and face some hard home truths. But, I didn't like her all the time. I can't put my finger on exactly what it was bothering me, but there were times when I found myself getting pretty annoyed with her. Not often, but it did happen.

Overall I did really enjoy this book. It was easy to get in to, pretty hard to put down and plenty going on. There were some slow moments, and I didn't always like the characters, I felt some of them were a little flat. But on the whole, it was a really good read with some very interesting aspects and plenty to make me want to read more. Book 2, The Darkest Edge of Dawn, just released and I'm looking forward to getting and reading it! 8/10


Jessica said...

Great review Cem! I'm looking forward to reading it myself, but I got a few other books today and still some others on my TBR pile that I want to get to first.

Cem said...

Heh, I know that feeling all too well...