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I Belong

Review: A Patch of Darkness by Yolanda Sfetsos

TitleA Patch of Darkness

Author: Yolanda Sfetsos

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Sierra Fox (Book 1)

Publication Date: May 15, 2012

Format: ebook, 272 Pages

ISBN-13:  B007RGWKXU (Samhain)

Reviewed by: Sheila


All it takes is one weak seam for everything to fall apart.

In a perfect world, Sierra Fox would have stayed away from the Council she left years ago. But in this world—where spirits have the right to walk among the living—it’s her job to round up troublesome spooks and bring them before that very same Council.

Though her desk is piled high with open cases, she can’t resist an anonymous summons to a mysterious late-night meeting with a bunch of other hunters, each of whom seems to have a unique specialty. The news is dire: something is tearing at the fabric of the universe. If the hunters can’t find who or why in time, something’s going to give in a very messy way.

As current cases, family secrets, new clues and her tangled love life slowly wind themselves into an impossible knot, Sierra finds herself the target of a power-sucking duo intent on stealing her mojo. And realizing she holds the key to the last hope of sealing the widening rift.

Product Warnings: Spook catching: may contain traces of ectoplasm and otherworldly nasties. Not recommended for those with allergies to ghosts, demons, and with boyfriends who think your power is theirs. While reading, avoid dark patches and stay to the light.

Quick & Dirty: A new, and less cooler, version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  Ghost catchers, witches, and werewolves, oh my.

Opening Sentence“Are you daydreaming again?”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

In the first installment of this new urban fantasy series, Sierra Fox, by Yolanda Sfetsos, we are introduced into a world where ghosts are legalized citizens with their own set of laws.  The main character, Sierra Fox, is a ghost catcher: a registered person that mediates between humans and ghosts.  If a ghost breaks the law, she is duty-bound to apprehend it and turn it over to the Ghost Catcher Council, the company in charge of regulating and enforcing the laws binding ghosts.  And while Sierra owns her own ghost catching firm, she still must deal with the Council’s dictates for her profession.  In the course of her work, Sierra stumbles upon irregularities with several ghost’s behaviors.  The further she digs into the situation, the deeper she finds herself involved with the larger issue that has potentially apocalyptic consequences; a tear in the fabric of our world.  She is invited to join a very special group that is charged with finding the “tear” that is allowing other entities to come into our world, without restrictions or inhibitions, and fixing it.  All the while, Sierra must deal with her torrent love life, exuberant and untrained apprentice, and secrets revealed about her family’s past that may hold the key to unlocking her new powers.

Sierra’s character is mercurial at best, wishy-washy at worse.  For someone that owns her own business, she displays a rather large lack of organizational skills.  She can’t seem to focus on any one thing or she focuses on the most unimportant detail at the time. Although this can be an endearing quality in a character, Sierra strikes me more as a weak heroine rather than one that is overwhelmed with the revelations of the story.  Even in her love life, she is constantly trying to convince herself that she loves one man, while pining away for another.

The secondary characters are introduced but not really given the opportunity for readers to relate to.  I am hoping that this is just because it is the first book and that individual characters will be given their due in subsequent novels.  Take for instance Sierra’s apprentice, Ebony.  She is important to the daily workings of Sierra’s business and seems to be counted as a close confidant, but when things start going crazy, you get the feeling that Ebony is a double-agent.  The lack of trust that Sierra feels makes it harder for readers to connect with her apprentice.  I’m left with the feeling that one would have for annoying co-worker: Just ignore them until they get themselves fired.  This is not a feeling that I would expect have for a sidekick.

Sierra’s love life is also hard to relate to.  She is consistently reminding herself about how lucky she is to have a great boyfriend in Jonathan and how much she is in love with him.  But again, when push comes to shove, her lack of trust makes Jonathan seem far more sketchy than one would assume from a close lover.  It doesn’t help that she tries to not think about her friend and office neighbor, Jason Papan.  There is some sexual tension between the two, but it doesn’t really go anywhere.  I can only assume, again, that further development will come along in the next books.

Now the group of supernatural experts that Sierra joins is pretty interesting.  Each person is considered an expert in their area; Witches, werewolves, demons, vampires, and ghosts.  Though, in this world only ghosts are recognized, the rest are still believed to be myth.  At least, it was that way until Sierra started working with them.  This story only explores the witch and demon hunter for any length.  I thought the premise was a little too superhero-ish for me, but it works within the story.  I ended up relating more to them than I did with Sierra.  Maybe it was the lack of commitment on Sierra’s part that makes me dislike her.

The world itself is also of note.  Ghosts are allowed to live together in homes with humans and it is perfectly acceptable practice.  The Ghost Catcher Council is corrupt, like we believe all big business and government to be, and Sierra is the underdog fighting the system for her place within it.  The idea of a tear in the seam between worlds is also a good idea.  The “man”, for lack of a better word, known to the group as the tailor, is responsible for bringing the group together and clueing them in on the problem.  He reminds me a lot of Charlie, from Charlie’s Angels; the enigmatic overseer of a group that goes out and fights the bad guys, or supernatural creatures in this case, for the good of humanity.  Even though he explains his presence and his purpose in all of this, the tailor remains vague.  I hope that that was on purpose.

Overall, I am not that impressed with this book.  That, however, will not stop me from reading the next installment on the hopes that it will get better.  I enjoyed the idea enough, appreciated the prose, and was intrigued by the secondary characters to warrant lenience on my initial impressions.  I would not, however, recommend purchasing this novel.  It is more of a-good-find-at-the-library type of book.

Notable Scene:

My heart beat fast against my chest, but I could only feel it. All sound was gone.

The demon bowed its head towards mine. I didn’t move an inch and actually dared to meet those horrid eyes. Horrors no human should ever be forced to see were lost inside. The dark, harsh patch this creature came from was worse than any vision of hell humans conjured up. Boiling lakes of lava merged with rivers of blood, kept flowing by the tormented human souls imprisoned for all eternity.

Tears slid down my face, blurring the vision.

I closed my eyes, trying to place an invisible shield between myself and the creature responsible for setting up such savage, eternal torments. The imagery raced inside my head long after my eyes were shielded, fast-forwarding through countless humans stupid enough to tempt fate by sitting inside magically charged circles and pentagrams, in hopes of conjuring such monsters.

Since I couldn’t completely close my eyes to everything, I shut my mind, cutting off the obscenities the demonic creature spewed.

The Sierra Fox Series:

1. A Patch of Darkness

2. Split at the Seams

FTC Advisory: The author provided me with a copy of A Patch 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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