In the Midnight Hour
In the Midnight Hour
Ravyn's Flight

In the Darkest Night
by Patti O’Shea
(Tor, $6.99, R)  ISBN 978-0765361707
When I was given In the Darkest Night to review, I was not aware that it was book four in the series. Not that it’s a big deal. Normally, this is just fine as long as the author gives a little background information on the characters, plot, etc. to get the reader up to speed on the story line. Here’s the problem: She didn’t give any background information, or a glossary of her made up names, races or dimensions. Naturally, I became lost pretty quickly and didn’t figure out the story line leading up to this book until about half way through.

That being said, I still enjoyed the novel once I got into it.

Farran is a Tŕireil woman who has escaped her father’s wrath in her home dimension and is currently living in the Gineal dimension (which is basically Earth but with one group of people who are superhuman). Farran finds herself in big trouble when time starts to speed up or slow down when she is in distress. This alerts Seth, or rather Set, the Egyptian god of Chaos who needs her power to regain the powers that he lost in some other book, which isn’t clear. Also, Farran finds herself being stalked by the Shadow-Walkers, a people of epic powers from another dimension that no one really knows about. So Farran seeks out the help of the local Troubleshooter, Logan Andrews.  Only he isn’t home and she ends up with his identical twin brother, Kel. Now Kel and Farran must discover why this is happening and must figure out how to keep Farran safe.

Kel suffers from psychotic episodes brought on by the trauma of torture that was inflicted in him in a previous book at the hands of Farran’s people. Kel doesn’t trust Farran and she doesn’t trust him. That being said, Farran needs protection and Kel is bound by the Troubleshooter code to help her, even if he hates her people. Also, Kel discovers that being around Farran calms down his turbulent mind and that he is able to lessen some of the flashbacks that plague him when he has physical contact with her.

While I found parts of the book to be quite confusing, I have to give props to Patti O’Shea for her characters. The sexual tension between Kel and Farran was believable and engaging and it was the romance between them that really saved this convoluted story line. I loved watching the two of them grow to trust in each other. I liked the fact that O’Shea didn’t get caught up in having the characters obsess about their growing feelings for each other. While the situation the two lead characters find themselves in is epic, the development of the attraction between them isn’t - which is refreshing.

O’Shea keeps to the story and doesn’t veer off very often into tangents or inner dialogues. She also doesn’t weigh down the story with too many extra characters, and while several other people are mentioned, they either make no appearances in the novel or they do so only after the conclusion is reached.

   Farran’s constant need to tell herself and the reader how weak and powerless she is gets old quite fast and after a while I just wanted to shake her and tell her to grow a spine. Also, it seems that almost every time she finds herself in trouble, the first thing she does is squeak or cower or do something equally wussy. This came off as over the top when combined with her overpowering self-confidence issues. I preferred her more towards the end of the book when she finally manages to shed some of her damsel-in-distress persona. That said, I also found her to be funny, quick-witted and very interesting to read about.

Kel’s constant battle within himself and with the Shadow-Walkers and Seth is engaging and I rooted for him throughout the whole book. Kel as a character is solid and well crafted, not to mention sexy. The hot and steamy scenes? O’Shea doesn’t bother with wooing or honey-tongued pleasantries. She goes straight for the good stuff and doesn’t disappoint.

The villains were an interesting mix of powerful and scary or gnat-like and ridiculous. The Shadow-Walkers are worthy advisories and fun to watch. Seth, on the other hand, acts more as the comic fool who tries to be evil but ultimately comes off as a weak poser.  The battle sequences were well done and descriptive which made them fun to read, but the way they are laid out reminds me heavily of Dungeons and Dragons. Every time someone was hit by a fireball or snakes of electricity, I found myself thinking, “I wonder how many hit points Kel just lost?”

Overall, though I ragged on the book quite a bit in this review, I liked the novel. However, I would recommend that you read the three books that precede In the Darkest Night as it should be easier to follow that way. O’Shea’s slightly gritty approach to romance writing makes her a force to be reckoned with. Even though I was confused, I still want to read the first three in the series.  

--Lindsey Seddon

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