Title: A Brush of Darkness
Author: Allison Pang
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Abby Sinclair (Book 1)
Publication Date: January 25, 2011
Format: Paperback, 343 Pages
ISBN-10: 1439198322 (Pocket Books)
ISBN-13: 978-1439198322 (Pocket Books)
Reviewed by: Sheila
The man of her dreams might be the cause of her nightmares.
Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as-sin incubus searching for his sister; convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Fae boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.
Quick & Dirty: Full of snarky and sexy characters that leave you laughing at their antics and crying with them through their pain.
Opening Sentence: Cat piss and cabbages.
A Brush of Darkness falls in a very small group for me: books I can’t get enough of. There is so much going on with this diverse set of characters that it leaves me looking for more. And it is the characters that make this story for me, not the world they are a part of. It’s Abby’s emotional armor and her way of dealing with stressful situations. It’s an incubus’s lack of morals but a strong sense of obligation and protectiveness. It’s an angel that swears like a sailor and a perverted unicorn named Phineas. It’s a boss that leaves her employee with so much responsibility but not the proper knowledge to deal with it. And that is just some of the characters we meet. How can one possibly not want to know more about them and what they’re going to do next?
Abby Sinclair is the TouchStone of a powerful fae but does not know much about her job. TouchStones are ties for the OtherWorld folk to remain in the mortal world without restrictions. Two beings must enter a formal contract where each party is amenable to. Contracts are highly regulated so that OtherWorld residences do not take advantage of mortals. Not that she cares about all of that. All she knows is how to run her boss’s businesses while she is out of town. Of course, nothing stays easy for long. Brystion, a succubus, has come looking for help to find his missing sister, and Abby is the only one around. Not that Abby can do much, but she thinks that it’s the right thing to do even though she is scared. Many more women have gone missing, including Abby’s boss. But now they have stumbled upon something so much bigger, a plot to take over the Faerie Queen’s throne.
Abby is, at heart, a coward. Abby’s past and the reasons behind her decisions are discovered throughout the story. But one thing remains true, Abby is haunted by nightmares and she is not strong enough to face them. I think if things didn’t happen as they did, she would not even have given them a second thought. She would have gladly stayed with her head firmly in the sand. Finding out that she is a KeyStone, a person that can become a TouchStone without a formal Contract, is a turning point for her. But will this give her the strength she’ll need in order to fight for herself and her friends? Or will she continue to allow her fears to rule her actions until it is too late?
Brystion is a succubus. His kind are not known for their loyalty or honesty, nor are they synonymous with monogamy. The TouchStone bond he created with Abby was by accident, but it turns out to be a good thing for both of them. The intimacy they share through the bond leads them to become more intimate with one another in other ways. Brystion turns out to be just as emotionally stunted as Abby. The secrets he keeps from her become their undoing. Even when they risk their lives for one another, are they willing to risk their hearts as well?
But the byplay between Abby and Brystion is not the main conflict in this book. The foundation of OtherWorld/mortal relations is in jeopardy when Abby’s boss goes missing. Moria is the protectorate, the one that enforces the rules for the OtherFolk in the mortal world. With her not around, there is no longer any guarantee that things will remain cordial. But is her disappearance related to the recent string of missing succubi? Can Abby and her friends’ rescue those kidnapped, or will they too become victims in the larger painting of deceit and sacrifice?
Overall, Ms. Pang’s characters have both depth and realism that allow a reader to connect with them. These fantastic creatures all show dimensions of humanity. This blending of real world and imagination make for a heady combination. All of the literary and pop culture allusions give the conversations throughout the book an extra layer of understanding. It gives me reason to be happy about all those cult movie classics I’ve watched and classic books I’ve read. I feel a closer connection to these fictional characters that would not have been otherwise.
“Lok’tar ogar!” The daemon holding me pulled my head back, exposing my throat.
“Victory or death,” I retorted at my captor hoarsely. “For the Horde. And for the record, shouting World of Warcraft battle cries kind of kills the whole ‘imminent death’ expectation.”
The daemon paused. “What server are you on?” he demanded.
I couldn’t imagine what the hell that mattered at this point, but it was keeping alive so that was a bonus. I’d gladly spit out the rest of my Warcraft stats if it bought me a few more minutes. “Yeah,” I coughed. “ElfhunterBitches.”
He blinked and then grinned, tapping himself on the chest. “No shot. I’m TartBarbie. Undead DeathKnight.”
I stared at him. “TB? Seriously? I’m Baconator. Belf Warlock. You did a hell of a job tanking on that raid the other night.”
“Yeah, I am pretty awesome.” He glanced over his shoulder, releasing me. “Look, if I’d known it was you, I’d never have agreed to this. Go on.” He nudged me with a leather boot. “I’ll tell them you got away.”
I didn’t have to be told twice. “Thanks,” I said softly. “I’ll make it up to you, somehow.”
“No worries.” He winked. “See you next Thursday.”
The Abby Sinclair Series:
FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books provided me with a copy of A Brush of Darkness. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. The only payment received came in the form of hugs and kisses from my little boys.
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