Book Review: ‘Darkness Brutal’ by Rachel A. Marks

October 3, 2015     Holly     Reviews

Book Review: ‘Darkness Brutal’ by Rachel A. MarksDarkness Brutal by Rachel A. Marks
Series: The Dark Cycle #1
Published by Skyscape on July 1, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 425
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Purchased
5 Stars

Aidan O’Linn’s childhood ended the night he saw a demon kill his mother and mark his sister, Ava, with Darkness. Since then, every three years the demons have returned to try to claim her. Living in the gritty, forgotten corners of Los Angeles, Aidan has managed to protect his sister, but he knows that even his powers to fight demons and speak dead languages won’t keep her safe for much longer.

In desperation, Aidan seeks out the help of Sid, the enigmatic leader of a group of teens who run LA Paranormal, an Internet reality show that fights demons and ghosts. In their company, Aidan believes he’s finally found a haven for Ava. But when he meets Kara, a broken girl who can spin a hypnotic web of passionate energy, he awakens powers he didn’t know he had―and unleashes a new era of war between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness.

With the fate of humanity in his hands, can Aidan keep the Darkness at bay and accept his brilliant, terrifying destiny?

Darkness Brutal by Rachel A. Marks is the kind of fiction I enjoy most: unexpected. Honestly, I purchased a copy for my Kindle because it was on sale and the cover grabbed my attention, and now I’m eagerly awaiting the next novel in The Dark Cycle series because holy cow, that was exciting!

Marks has crafted a wonderfully complex novel with Darkness Brutal and its tale of Aiden, a boy with special powers who is eager to protect his young sister from the demons who haunt them and their dead mother’s dark past. It’s edgy, well-written, intricately woven, and not so far out there that it’s impossible to believe in the magic of the story.

The characters of Darkness Brutal are incredibly colorful and full of an energy that is sometimes hard to capture on paper. While it’s expected that characters like Aiden, Ava, and other main players are going to be fleshed out and complete for the sake of the story alone, that’s not always the case for minor, background characters. But Marks does a wonderful job of making sure that every person Aiden has contact with is someone that the reader gets to know. And every single one, no matter how seemingly insignificant, has an invaluable part to play in the coming fight. It’s kind of like a “Leave no man behind” attitude, which I really enjoyed.

And, of course there’s a love triangle. Although I enjoyed how this one, despite there being two girls in Aiden’s life, seems to resolve itself (at least slightly) without the seemingly necessary drama that tends to follow love triangles between teenagers around. And it’s not your typical kind of attraction for these characters, a fact I won’t get into because spoilers, but Marks handles this romantic aspect of Darkness Brutal with a finesse and grace that made it something other than a super annoying romance that tends to show up in YA novels.

One facet of the tale that might cause hesitation for readers of Darkness Brutal is the religious aspect of the story that becomes central to Aiden’s journey later on in the novel. While it is obvious that the religion is necessary, it’s not overbearing. Marks handles religion in the same way that a show such as Supernatural does, handing you aspects of religious ideas (such as demons and angels) as tangible creatures rather than an ideology. It’s simply a piece of the puzzle that is Aiden’s past, not a moral guide for readers. Don’t let it turn you away.

Simply put, Darkness Brutal is an urban fantasy gem. It’s full of rich characters that compel an interesting and exciting story to continue forward with twists and sudden drops at the least expected moments. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on the next novel. Can we please have it soon?

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