Book Review: Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady

Hearts of Darkness (Deadglass #1) by Kira Brady

Publisher: Zebra

Genre:  Paranormal Romance

You can purchase Hearts of Darkness on ebook or paperback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.  You can read my review of the prequel Hearts of Fire.

Review:

Overview:  After reading the prequel novella (and loving it), I was so excited and impatient to read this book that I requested a copy from the author.  But it was clear very early on in Hearts of Darkness that this was a completely different story than the first.  This book is set in present time, while the prequel had a western feel.  The world building feels very extensive, but it took me quite a few chapters to be convinced that present day Seattle is over-run by mystical shapeshifters and beings…but the rest of the world is unaware of this.  I think my main gripe with the novel is that I didn’t like the POV characters.  Since the next book is written from a different POV, I might still read it.

Characters:  I would’ve liked this story much more had the main characters not been Kayla and Hart.  I liked Corbette, Grace, Lydia, and especially Norgard and I wish one of them told the story.  It could have been a five-star book.  First off the chemistry between the characters is so awkward.  I never felt like they truly cared for one another.  Hart didn’t love her – her lusted her.  He spent much of his time thinking about how to screw her over and the rest of the time thinking about screwing her.  He kept talking about the beast inside him wanting to bend her over and stick it in.  After pages and pages of this, I was like: “Just do it already!”  By the time the sex scene happened, I was so fed up with Hart and Kayla that I skipped it.  And, he growled a lot…a whole lot.  Oh, and Kayla felt like the dumbest human alive.  She walked into trap after trap and was so incredibly naive.  She had absolutely no backbone and was all about preaching forgiveness and not taking things personally.  I don’t understand how Hart could do that “thing” to her and she shrugs it off!

Plot:  The plot felt predictable about half the time and the other half I was confused as to why the characters did the things they did.  So I guess it wasn’t nearly as predictable as I originally thought.  By the end of the book, I stopped trying to guess what would happen and just enjoyed the story.  The world building was well done and the mythology was teasingly revealed throughout the story.  Even by the end, I understood much of the world, but I wanted to know so much more.

Ending:  There were some really cheesy moments in the end.  The kind of stuff you’d expect in a movie with more special effects than acting skills.  These things were not realistic and obviously only there for dramatic flair.  I wish things would have ended differently with Corbette…his ending was bittersweet.

Book Description:

Nurse Kayla Friday has dedicated her life to science and reason. But for her, Seattle is a place of eerie loss and fragmented, frightening memories. And now the only clue to her sister’s murder reveals a secret battle between two ancient mythologies…and puts Kayla in the sights of lethally sexy werewolf mercenary Hart. He’ll do whatever it takes to obtain the key to the Gate of the Land of the Dead and free what’s left of his soul. But seducing the determined Kayla is putting them at the mercy of powerful desires neither can control. And as the clock ticks down to hellish catastrophe, the untested bond between Kayla and Hart may lead to the ultimate sacrifice.

This is a great story for those who love paranormal romances and don’t mind a bit of cheese.

Grade:  C

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)

Author of the Deadglass Trilogy (Kensington Zebra). Hearts of Darkness was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of Summer 2012!

A native Seattleitte, Kira spent her childhood hiking the rainy forests of the Pacific Northwest and drying out by the fire with a good book and a mug of something hot. She graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, where she met her real life Prince Charming and promptly dragged him back to sunless Seattle. She fell in love with historic, haunted cities in graduate school. Now she writes about the twisted cities of her imagination, where wraiths and shape-shifters stalk the night and love redeems even the darkest heart. When not writing, she can be found drinking inordinately large mugs of Assam tea, knitting wool socks, and raising a wee heroine-in-training.

Website  |  Twitter  | Facebook

5 Star Review: Characters

So what is 5 star review?  Well, this is where, as a reviewer, I let you know what makes me rate your book 5 stars – or not.  This week’s topic: characters.

Please note that some things that turn me off to your book as a reader/reviewer turn others on and vice versa.


Characters

There’s so much I could write about characters, so I picked just a few things.  Characters in books I rate 5 stars are likeable, evolving, and complex.  Characters are the “who” of the story.  We typically think of them as people, but animals, and even objects can be personified and become characters.

  1. You could describe an ant as hardworking and persistent.  You could write a story about how an ant overcame seemingly impossible odds to find food and feed its colony.
  2. You could write a story about a train that wants to take a trip off of the tracks – oh, wait…that’s called The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper.

But there needs to be someone or something that is the center of the story.  Someone that we can connect to as a reader.  Someone that is likeable.  This would be your POV (point of view) character.  The reader needs to be able to “feel” and “care” for the people telling the story.  Would you go to a random person’s wedding or high school graduation?  Do you cry when you read the obituary section in the newspaper?  If you have nothing invested in these people, then no…you don’t care.  The closer you become with the people, the more you are affected by what happens in “their” life.

I love You.  I hate You.  Either way, I care enough to notice you.

Now, don’t confuse “likeable” with good.  Sometimes the villain is more likeable than the hero – like Hannibal Lector vs Will Graham in Red Dragon by Thomas Harris or Megamind vs Metroman (yes, I know…a movie!).  Sometimes the hero is horribly flawed like Sherlock Holmes – socially inept.  Humpert Humpert in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – pedophile.  And if you can make both the villain and the hero likeable, that’s even more awesome.

And likeable certainly does not mean perfect.  Think about it.  Would you want your best friend to be rich beyond belief, gorgeous, athletic, brilliant, and extremely lucky?  And why don’t we also make this person have a few supernatural powers and be the Chosen One.  No, I don’t think you want to be friends with Mary Sue.  Besides the obvious jealousy, readers have trouble relating to a character like that.  You have flaws, therefore your characters should have flaws.

And CLUMSY is not a big enough game changer of a flaw to be the only flaw.  Unless…you plan on your character tripping, smacking into the villain and the villain’s extended knife, which is perfectly positioned to plunge into the heat, and the character dies.  If that happens, I can say, “Man, I’d rather be ugly than clumsy.  At least no one ever died from being too ugly.”  Then, and only then will you get full points in the character department with an otherwise completely Mary Sue character.

The Story of Evolution

There are two types of characters:  those that change over the course of the novel (dynamic) and those that stay the same (stagnant).  Most novels have both characters.  The key to having dynamic characters is to make their evolution from the starting person to the end a very believable transition.  The change in the characters need to be proportional to the situation for it to be believable.  You can either have a lot of minor events that contribute to the change or you can have one major event that triggers a change.

Character trait:  Character is a loyal wife.  Then she has an affair.

  • Believable:  Scene after scene we have the wife doing things without her husband.  He spends no time with her and she grows increasingly lonely, until she meets someone to fill the void – a neighbor.
  • Not-believable:  Husband forgot take out trash.  Wife screws her neighbor when she sees him at his trash can next door.

Character trait:  Character used to love spending all her time with animals.  Not anymore.

  • Believable:  Character quits veterinarian job after own pet dies and there was nothing she could do to save Fluffy.  Every animal she sees reminds her of her dead dog and she can’t bear it.
  • Not-believable:  Character quits veterinarian job because ants have invaded her kitchen and THIS MEANS WAR!  Every animal is a potential enemy now.

A thousand faces

Do you act the same way in front of your parents or your boss as you do your friends?  Your lover?  If the answer is yes, then please find the nearest exit and “get a life”.  teenagers especially treat different people differently.  They might be more joking around their friends.  Quieter around someone they like.  And more conservative (both in dress and speech) in front of their parents.  There might be conflicting information for the reader.

Example:  Suzy tells John that she can’t stand Bobby, but Suzy then tells Bobby that she likes hanging around him.

What does this mean?  It means that either Suzy is hiding her true feelings from John about Bobby or Suzy is hiding her true feelings from Bobby about himself.  To one of these guys, Suzy is honest.  To the other guy, Suzy is a liar.  She is still one person, but has conflicting character traits.  She is complex and that’s how I like my characters.

Readers:  What do you think makes a character likeable?