Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Book Review: Embraced by Darkness - Keri Arthur

Book review of Embraced by Darkness – Keri Arthur. 
ISBN: 978-0-7499-3817-8

Embraced by Darkness is part of the Riley Jenson series made popular by Australian author, Keri Arthur.  
The opinions and views expressed in this review are not a personal attack on the author and should not be deemed as such. They are simply my observations as a reader, reviewing the book I read. I’m sure Keri Arthur is a lovely woman, and I wish her all the very best with her work.

Embraced by Darkness revolves around female protagonist Riley Jenson - half Werewolf, half Vampire.  I only read the first 60 or so pages of the novel, but didn’t feel the presence of the half of her that is meant to be Vampire – if she is even half Vampire? The dog part came through loud and clear. Vampire, not so.

For a story that is set in Melbourne, Australia, I was thrilled to see what Australia had to offer. Sadly, I was both confused and disgusted by the lack of respect the editor showed for the integrity of the story’s origin and setting. For example, using American English edits to replace the Australian English word for ‘Mum’ with ‘Mom’ and ‘Licence’ with ‘License’. Who begins constructive sentences with the word ‘or’ anyway? In my opinion, that kind of thing is an unforgivable sin against the English language – period! Sack your editor, Keri. I honestly feel sorry for you.

This edition was first published in Great Britain by Piatkus Books in 2002. Later the book was published by Bantam Del, a Division of Random House Inc., New York in 2007. The version I am reviewing was printed in 2007 by Piatkus Books, and has since had multiple editions re-printed, so I can only hope future versions have been corrected. It was printed in London, UK.

The plot of the story is scattered at best.

Written in first person, the story failed to grab my attention and draw me into the world of Riley Jenson and believe this character is even real. There is a load of suspense and a million questions raised throughout the story that at times make no sense and had me scratching my head, wondering where this tangent will lead and what was the purpose of even mentioning it in the hopes of driving the story forward? The story didn’t seem to flow naturally throughout the 60 pages. I barely managed to get my head around of the first two chapters.

To deem this read painful would be an understatement. Heck, confusing is the mother of all understatements associated with this read.

The author jumps from scene to scene with a word or sentence and the reader is expected to follow. There are no clearly defined scenes. It mostly reads like one run-on-sentence with inappropriate punctuation and crap grammar. Dialogue is palatable with a grain of salt and when Riley’s narrating the story and then interacting with another character, the narration and dialogue clash to the point where it’s hard to distinguish what’s going on in her head and what is actually coming out of her mouth. If it wasn’t for quotation marks signalling the character was speaking, you’d be lost and need a map.

I did enjoy the monotone the author wrote in the head of Riley. The descriptions of her surrounds were wonderful, but they became lost once Riley’s character interacted with another. This was so disappointing, as the story had potential if it could have been simplified and well rooted in the moment. There was just too much going on to be packed into a 355 page book.

I love reading paranormal romances, but this book didn’t tick any of the boxes I usually associate with a good paranormal read. I felt the author was trying to blend and mash too much together and that’s where I completely lost respect and interest in the story the author was attempting to tell. However, there is no disputing this author can write love scenes really well! I thoroughly enjoyed the lovey-dovey moments in this book. Thumbing through the rest of the book, such love scenes are scattered throughout the book, but they were not enough to keep me riveted to the story line.

Character development is lacking to the point where there are too many characters in the story and not enough focus on the main two characters you’d expect to associate with a paranormal romance. Romance indicates love between two people, but this so called ‘romance’ has too many characters playing parts that have nothing to do with romance. I would classify this book as a paranormal thriller with a splash of erotic romance.

I did enjoy the conclusion of chapter 2 and thank God for the erotic injection! The story needed it, or I think I’d have thrown it out the window. Keri writes well when two characters are going at a sex scene, but as for the rest of the story – it got lost on me.

When it came to Kellen, Riley’s ‘lover’, the couple are meant to have been together only six weeks, but the story opens with Riley away on holidays for six weeks without Kellen…so this left me trying to fill in the blanks there, but the author gave me nothing of substance to fill in those blanks which frustrated me as to the development of the couple’s relationship. If there are other books in the series prior to Embraced by Darkness that might explain my confusion. You can’t pick up the series in the middle and expect to read the story – it doesn’t really make much sense.

The first chapter is also considerably shorter than chapter two. I couldn’t be bothered reading chapter three. The book failed to grab me with a strong enough story line to keep my attention fixed and focussed on the main characters. Riley Jenson – as a heroine, is a weak, smart-ass-mouthed, sarcastic bitch who is a poorly developed character that is too complicated to figure out what her character arc is. She might be suffering abandonment issues since her mother abandoned her and her twin brother as teens, but I’m not getting that vibe from such a powerful issue. From what I read and can gather, her twin brother is also a gay werewolf, but he and his partner’s presence in the story is also very unclear – why are they gay? There are so many issues floating around in this story and open-ended questions that lead nowhere. On top of it all, Riley is meant to be searching for the granddaughter of a man who tried to kill her by pushing her off a cliff. She is also meant to be some sort of cop, policing the Melbourne district to catch paranormal criminals whose boss is a Vampire…

As for Kellen ditching his Mercedes, opting to pick Riley up from the airport in a Limousine, so they can have sex in the back seat, just came out of the blue like a sucker punch.

This story doesn’t flow cleanly. It’s a jerky read and one I wouldn’t recommend you waste your time reading, unless you enjoy reading books that are like this, or you are so wrapped by the romance of super natural beings like werewolves.

There might be suspense that is gripping and leaves you spellbound later on in the book, but getting through such a poor beginning has left me too weary to even attempt that feat. I wish readers well if they so do choose to attempt reading this series.

Review scale: 1= Bad    2= Better    3=Good     4=Great     5=Excellent

On the review scale I have to rate it a 1= Bad.

Reason being is that the author is Australian, the book is set in Australia with Australian towns and cities and yet this edition has either been written or edited to show no respect for the integrity of the Australian setting as far as this edition’s version of what passes for English is concerned.

If you would like to get a copy and see if I'm wrong, please follow this link to purchase your own copy of Embraced by Darkness. There have been multiple versions put out in print, so I am hopeful your chances of getting a better quality version than this one I have attempted to read (pictured below) are positive. http://www.randomhouse.com/book/5222/embraced-by-darkness-by-keri-arthur 

Reviewed by Phoebe Miller for Twilight Fantasies & CGB Press

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