Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton is the YA debut from the author previously published as Kelly Gay in adult urban fantasy. Darkness Becomes Her is paranormal meets mythology set a decade in the future in New 2, the place left behind after hurricanes have ravaged New Orleans which has subsequently been rebuilt by nine ancient families who privately purchased the city. Strange occurrences and danger are known to lurk in New 2, but that doesn't stop Ari from entering the city in search of answers about her past. Seventeen year old Ari has never belonged, she has teal eyes and silver hair that won't be cut or dyed, and after a lifetime growing up in foster care she finally learns that the person she wants answers from- her mother- killed herself right after she gave Ari up. Ari receives a box of her mother's belongings and with them comes a note, a simple message, Run. That's when she knows she has no choice but to go to New 2 and find the hospital where she was born, hopefully finding out who she really is and who is after her.
I was initially really excited by Darkness Becomes Her which manages to combine traditional paranormal characters like vampires with more unexpected Greek mythology. I also really loved the idea of this hardcore main character, Ari, who has silver hair and works part time as a bail bondsman for her foster parents and is not afraid of using a gun. Unfortunately there are many major issues with the actual novel. Most of the characters are poorly developed, and there is a rushed romance between Ari and a boy she meets in New 2, Sebastian. Keaton take time to develop tension between Ari and Sebastian, rather she has them immediately making out for unclear reasons beyond the fact that Sebastian smells good.
There is also a lot of swearing in Darkness Becomes Her, and although I don't mind profanity I don't think it's great at letting the reader know a lot about a character and in this case felt like lazy writing. For example, Ari is up against the goddess Athena, but repeatedly having Ari call her a bitch didn't make me hate her anymore, just like writing "fuck" is a terribly obvious way to let the reader know Ari's pissed off. I wish Keaton had relied slightly more on description and slightly less on profanity when telling her story, perhaps it would have resulted in richer character development which was sorely lacking.
Darkness Becomes Her is based on the intriguing premise of throwing paranormal and mythological creatures together, and although I found that concept interesting it was very poorly executed. Ari goes from living in a normal world to battling it out with the goddess Athena and she doesn't even seem that surprised that her world has been turned upside down. The biggest issue however, is that there is simply too much story for this one small book. There are too many different characters and too many plot lines. As soon as I found something I was enjoying in Darkness Becomes Her- for example, Ari's relationship with the young Violet, a girl with fangs and a pet alligator who is my favourite character by far- I was immediately tossed into another scene featuring a vampire orgy. Granted, Darkness Becomes Her is the first book in the "Gods & Monsters" series, but it felt like Keaton was trying to fit so much back story into this one novel it overwhelmed the reader, with the result being that the aspects I did enjoy didn't get the attention I felt they deserved. Ultimately, Darkness Becomes Her fails because it takes on too much, so even though it has an original concept the rushed romance and poorly developed characters mean I am unlikely to pick up the next book in this series.
Release Date: February 22nd, 2011Pages: 288
Source: E-galley from publisher
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