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I Belong

Review: Darkness Unbound by Keri Arthur

Title: Darkness Unbound

Author: Keri Arthur

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Dark Angels (Book 1)

Publication Date: September 27, 2011

Format: Paperback, 364 Pages

ISBN-10: 0440245729 (Dell/Random House)

ISBN-13: 978-0440245728 (Dell/Random House)

Reviewed by: Kristie


The fight against darkness rages on for the next generation—in New York Times bestselling author Keri Arthur’s exciting new series set in the world of the Guardians.

Being half werewolf and half Aedh, Risa Jones can enter the twilight realms between life and death and see the reapers, supernatural beings that collect the souls of the dead. But she soon makes a terrifying discovery: Some sinister force is stealing souls, preventing the dead from ever knowing the afterlife.

Reapers escort souls—not snatch them—but Risa is still unnerved when a reaper shadows her in search of someone Risa has never met: her own father, an Aedh priest, who is rumored to be tampering with the gates of hell for a dark purpose. With the help of her “aunt”—half-werewolf, half-vampire Riley Jenson—and an Aedh named Lucian who may have lost his wings but none of his sex appeal, Risa must pursue whatever shadowy practitioner of blood magic is seizing souls, and somehow stop her father . . . before all hell breaks loose.

Quick & Dirty: Dark urban fantasy set in a deadly and mysterious world. An ongoing storyline leaves several plots unfinished at the end of this book.

Opening Sentence: I’ve always seen the reapers.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Risa Jones has unique skills as a half werewolf and a half Aedh. Aedh’s are most commonly referred to as angels because that is what they look like but that is not exactly what they are. As an Aedh, Risa has always been able to see the Reapers, collectors of the souls of the dead, so when one begins to follow her, she prepares to confront him but not before her mother asks her to do a favor, to see if a little girl who has fallen into a coma has already crossed over or if her soul is still in her body. One of Risa’s skills allows her to see if souls have moved on for people who are in comas or worse and this is how she realizes that someone is stealing souls.

Risa then confronts Azriel about the stolen souls. Azriel is stunned that Risa can see him, almost everyone human or supernatural cannot see reapers but then Risa isn’t normal. On top of the news about stolen souls, Risa finds out Azriel is following her because he is looking for her father. He isn’t the only one looking for her father. Risa believes her father to be dead and the fact that she has never met him makes her think these people are crazy for confronting her. Her father is the prime suspect in holding keys that will unlock the three gates between the world and where the souls go and are reborn. People are using her to find these keys for good or for bad. Risa then enlists the help of her friends, Tao and Ilianna, and her “Aunt” Riley into finding who is destroying souls forever.

Risa is a strong and impetuous character. She often doesn’t think about what she is going to do until she does it. She is also very highly sexual. She likes to blame this on her werewolf genes but I’m not so sure. She enters into an unemotional but very adventurous sexual relationship with an Aedh named Lucian. She is afraid of relationships since her heart was broken so sex really feels this void. She highly values friendships that she has and she does everything to keep them alive.

Darkness Unbound is a spin-off of Keri Arthur’s Riley Jenson’s series. Unfortunately I have not read this series but it is one series I have entirely on my TBR pile so I was a little wary about jumping straight to this title. There were a few spoilers said but they didn’t seem to really ruin too much, just enough to tease those who may have read the previous series. Darkness Unbound really sticks with Risa and her life.

Darkness Unbound is an urban fantasy that is told strictly through Risa’s first person point of view. There are two main plots going on through the story, one to find who is stealing souls and the other mystery of Risa’s father. One gets resolved while the other does not. Also, with a cliffhangerish ending, you will want the next book, Darkness Rising, setting nearby. I think if I had known that there would be a huge multistory plot line going on before I read Darkness Unbound then I may have liked this story better than I did. The worldbuilding has been fairly well established in the previous books but for me the background was pretty fantastic and refreshing with its Aedhs, Reapers, psychics and face shifting werewolves. Since this is such a huge world I did have some trouble initially getting into the story but once I did I really enjoyed this novel.

Overall, Darkness Unbound sets up a mysterious new urban fantasy. This is a reasonable start up to an all new series, if you can make it past this first book the next two get much better. I would recommend having the other books in this series close by after finishing Darkness Unbound.

Notable Scene:

Several more empty pages followed; then came a picture of what looked like a wingless, serpent-like dragon. Unlike anything else in this old book so far, the colors were vibrant and colorful, the serpentine form drawn with such skill that the tiny violet scales almost appeared to glow in the half-light of the room.

I touched it lightly, running my fingers down the jeweled spine and the spiraled tail. It almost seemed warm, as if life really did pulse underneath the luminous paint.

“Fuck, Risa,” Ilianna yelled from the other kitchen. “Whatever you’re doing—“

The rest of her warning was lost in an explosion of power that knocked me backward and tore the dragon from the book.

It was no picture. It was alive.

The violet dragon was real and whole and powerful, and it swirled toward me—a glinting, arcane force I could feel through every fiber of my being.

I screamed and scrambled backward as fast as I could, but the creature was faster. It hit my fingertips, curled up my left wrist and arm, then seemed to settle, its little claws sinking into my arm, drawing blood but not really hurting. Its scaly hide felt like ice, and the bright violet of its scales glittered jewel-like against my skin.

Dark Angels Series:

1. Darkness Unbound

2. Darkness Rising

3. Darkness Devours

4. Darkness Hunts (November 6, 2012)

FTC Advisory: I purchased my own copy of Darkness Unbound. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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