I’ve had a copy of Kelly Gay’s debut novel, The Better Part of Darkness for a bit now, but have you ever gotten into a mood where you know it won’t help with a certain novel. I very much went through a straight romance-wanting stage and I knew my frame of mind wouldn’t do justice to this novel – which I was so right. The Better Part of Darkness is fabulous and I can’t wait for the second novel, The Darkest Edge of Dawn, to hit the shelves.
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?
First off, the idea that the main heroine is a single mother fascinates me (to some degree) and I know I’m not the only one. Generally, most UF heroines either want kids in the future or are happy without them since they lead dangerous lives; that’s so not the case here. Charlie Madigan is a cop because she wants to protect and while her recent experience with death is making her rethink her position, she’s not totally sure about changing it. I liked that kind of conflict was going on in Charlie’s head – it seemed like something that would be there. To be frank, I’m not crazy about novels that involve a kid too much. With my own toddler at home, I tend to get set off really easily whenever anything bad happens to a kid (especially a young one), however, I never got a “I can’t read this” vibe and it was really well written. I’ve put down books before because of the situation the author has put a kid in and while there was a moment where Charlie’s daughter experienced some ugliness, it wasn’t that bad.
Okay, so maybe I’m focusing on that angle too much, but like I said, it tends to be a sensitive topic for me. Other than that though, the novel was fabulous. I love how Gay wrote Charlie as a no-nonsense detective who isn’t afraid to get in the thick of it. She took action against the paranormals even knowing she was only human and very fragile compared to them. She didn’t let them intimate her and it really worked.
Quite honestly, there were a lot of things about The Better Part of Darkness that I enjoyed and I have to say I was surprised by a few as well. Charlie’s partner, Hank, I was expecting a little something different from him. I’m not saying I’m sad that I was wrong (well, I am because I think it would have been interesting), but I like the dynamic Hank and Charlie have. Plus a male siren is kind of cool. You usually find sirens to be female since they are alluring and tend to be sexual objects, so I really don’t have a problem ogling a male siren this time. The only thing I would have liked more is to have seen Hank in paranormal action. Use his siren voice on someone or totally dazzle Charlie, just something. He really doesn’t get the chance to in The Better Part of Darkness and I’m not sure if he will in The Darkest Edge of Dawn either. I guess it’s something I’ll have to wait for.
As for the plot, loved it.
While the idea of three different species/worlds trying to live together has been done, I like the way Gay has done it. She’s not only given us a great conflict stemmed from these two new worlds, but the new subculture that is developing in her Atlanta is fabulous. I seriously want to jump into the book and check it out. I mean, it sounds a little like Diagon Ally from the Harry Potter novels, but in a much more dangerous wiccan/sidhe sort of way. Definitely intriguing. Plus, the idea that one of the natural bad guys may not be totally bad is interesting. I can almost see something more coming from that angle, but I’m not sure yet. We’ll have to see.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Better Part of Darkness and I can’t wait until Kelly Gay’s second novel, The Darkest Edge of Dawn, hits the shelves. I’m hoping it’s going to be soon because I really want to know what happens between Charlie and Will (the ex) with his new friend, her partnership with Hank and what she’s getting involved in with her new job. It’s not what she was looking for, but I think she’s going to enjoy it anyway.
The Better Part of Darkness
The Darkest Edge of Dawn (2010)