Darkness Brutal

Darkness Brutal (The Dark Cycle Book 1) - Rachel A. Marks

[I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

The beginning of this novel was interesting and full of promises, combining Aidan and his sister Ava being targetted by demons to a mysterious man, Sid, gathering gifted youth with abilities to see and/or touch the supernatural. Yet a few things definitely rubbed me the wrong way after a while.

Aidan as a character was fairly enjoyable. He's had a hard life, but doesn't spend his time whining about it, instead doing what he can to ensure his little sister, at least, gets something better (not just a foster family: also avoiding the death of said family). He's a decent person all around, the kind of guy who'll help a girl in danger and not take advantage of her in any way, or who'll recognise that someone alluring and sexy may not necessarily mean "I want to have sex with you". He perceived the frailty within Rebecca and Kara, that what they were doing was not necessarily their choice or to their liking, and openly stated that he didn't want Kara to do something she wasn't convinced of, all the more after what she had been through.

Kara had a somewhat annoying, twitchy side—going from one reaction to the complete opposite. On the other hand, she also used what she had been dealt in order to try and make things better. Scarred and tough at the same time, in the spirit of survival and of refusing to let her former life crush her.

I still don't know what to think about the "romance". There was attraction and manipulation, and I didn't really feel much chemistry, considering that one girl was basically attracted because of supernatural reasons, and the other... as well?

A more prominent issue for me was how the story suffered of regular cases of ain't-telling-you-nothing-itis. It's not the first nor the last time I notice that in novels. Sure, some information needs to be kept hidden, because disclosing everything at once is a) overwhelming and b) not really interesting. However, I don't like it when it feels that the revealing of said information is artificially pushed back as far as possible in order to create confusion as a plot device. The "I'm not telling you in order to protect you" and "I'm keeping this secret, surely it won't cause trouble for everyone later" kind. Aidan demanded information, while withdrawing important info of his own. Ava kept to herself and did things behind her brother's back, instead of talking to him and maybe, just maybe, trying to find a third way to solve their issues. Sid was annoying as well in that regard, as he knew or at least suspected a lot of important stuff about Aidan, yet postponed its revealing, only to act later along the lines of "you have to listen to me because it's absolutely crucial you act accordingly, wait, why don't you want to listen to me now, is it maybe because you've become fed up with waiting?"

Granted, Aidan not wanting to tell the truth about Ava, nor about his reasons to bring her with him, was understandable. But other happenings could've been avoided if only the characters in general had been more open about some things. All those hidden agendas didn't make for a good ground for budding trust, and in turn, it made things go the wrong way. A wrong way which was easy to foresee as a device.

I wasn't sold either on the biblical/Babylonian/seers stuff. It seemed to pop out of nowhere, and not to be very well integrated within the general "mythology" of the urban fantasy world developed here. While reading, I had a feeling that its purpose was to make the usual angels/demons backdrop different, without really succeeding.

2.5 stars. Overall, there were good ideas in here, but all the beating around the bush was a little too much for me to stomach.