Monday, May 12, 2014

Review: The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz

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I received this book for free from Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Dark World by Cara Lynn ShultzThe Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz
Series: Dark World #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 27th 2014
Genres: Paranormal, YA
Source: Harlequin Teen
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Paige Kelly is used to weird--in fact, she probably corners the market on weird, considering that her best friend, Dottie, has been dead since the 1950s. But when a fire demon attacks Paige in detention, she has to admit that things have gotten out of her league. Luckily, the cute new boy in school, Logan Bradley, is a practiced demon slayer-and he isn't fazed by Paige's propensity to chat with the dead. Suddenly, Paige is smack in the middle of a centuries-old battle between warlocks and demons, learning to fight with a magic sword so that she can defend herself. And if she makes one wrong move, she'll be pulled into the Dark World, an alternate version of our world that's overrun by demons-and she might never make it home.

With one of my favourite settings – New York City – The Dark World has a lot to offer. We’ve got a unique and terrifying alternate evil world concept, a protagonist who can see the dead, a love interest who’s incredibly charming, and an exciting climax. But… I was also disappointed by how much of a tease it was on the aspect that I found the most interesting.

Let’s start with the plot itself. It begins at school where we meet Paige talking to a ghost in the girl’s bathroom, quickly getting us to understand both her social standing and how she really doesn’t give a rats butt (trying to stay PG13 here!). This also introduces us to the mean girl and Paige’s hilarious ghost best friend. It takes no time until we meet a new girl who is not quite what she seems… This all sets the tone for a story that has a hint of humour and horror. Things were going great and I was highly enjoying myself for a while. It was no surprise that a romance began brewing, soon enough. This is where some of my disappointment lays. Don’t get me wrong, the romance is actually not bad in itself. I found their connection genuine, and Logan is someone I easily rooted for. He’s a wonderful guy who shows the size of his heart by his actions, not just his words. I did find they were a bit too oblivious of each other’s feelings at first – I mean come on, yes he likes you, everyone can see that!! – but this builds a great friendship that eventually blooms into an all-encompassing love. The problem I had was not with the intensity of the romance which I actually felt, but how the whole book became all about this romance and nothing else for what felt like an incredibly long time. I found myself losing interest in the whole book due to the lack of plot progression, especially from getting nothing but teases of this highly fascinating Dark world.

What is the Dark World? It’s a frightening, yet seductive underworld that had me captivated from its first mention. I loved the creativity that went behind crafting this evil world full of terror and menace, that also comes with an intriguing history of its politics and wars. Its descriptions are disturbing, its inhabitants are beastly and gruesome, but everything is remarkably cinematic. The problem with all of that, however, is that I wanted more, and was given so little. All throughout the book we’re teased with the Dark World and this strangely beautiful, yet terrifying portrayal of an alternate New York City, but we get nothing but tiny glimpses from a few portals. The very end is where we finally get a real look at it for a few pages before the last. I guess I should have expected that, though, seeing as series now seem to use book 1 as a sort of introduction for the real deal – which is a new practice I’m not especially fond of. Still, this book could have easily been cut short a few dozen pages that were spent in a romantic haze, and it might not have felt as if I’d waited forever to get to the real action.

This series as a whole does have potential. It has a protagonist with a great sense of humour which I instantly clicked with, a romance that, even though it took center stage, had me emotional invested at the end, and book one’s ending is suspenseful and exciting and bittersweet in many ways. I do look forward to book 2, and I do think those who enjoy paranormal romances to the likes of City of Bones should give this one a try!


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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15 Responses to “Review: The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz”

  1. Amanda @ Book Badger

    I feel torn over your review. In one case I’m gutted it wasn’t better and that you didn’t like it more because I thought it would be a good book, but on the other I’ve pretty pleased because I was rejected and I don’t know or think I would have enjoyed it much and I get to feeling it would have been annoying to not get enough glimpses of this ‘Dark World’. Overall, I think I might look out for it discounted, but it’s not high on my list anymore. Great review though! 🙂

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I was waiting for other bloggers to read and review this book before I decided this would be a good book for me because I tend to struggle with multiple dimensions books for some reason. I think I’m going to wait for the sequel to wait to read it because it sounds like this book was more of an introduction. I also don’t like it when the romance tends to takeover the plot and the world-building. I actually think it would frustrate me despite the romance sounding really adorable. I’m very curious about this Dark World too though.
    Lovely review, Giselle!

  3. Aylee

    I’ve been curious about this one… the cover totally said City of Bones to me, so it’s not surprising that you would recommend it to fans of that one! I’m definitely intrigued with the alternate dimension aspect, but romance-heavy books have been such a hard sell for me lately that I’m not sure I would take to that part of it too well… so I’m thinking I’ll pass for now and rethink if the sequel does well. Thanks for this review, Giselle – very helpful!

  4. Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook

    I just finished the book the other day. I really like Shultz’s Spellbound, so I was SOOO excited to read The Dark World. And although I liked it, I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping. I also enjoyed the beginning of the book a lot more. I felt like certain aspects of this fantasy world were never explained very well, and I didn’t care for that. But I did like it, and I also gave it three stars.

  5. Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    I think I would enjoy the “see the dead” aspects of this novel, but I’m not sure that I like the fact that the romance is center stage. Maybe I’ll wait until book 2 is out, so that I can get a better grasp of what’s going to be the focal point of this series. Thanks for the review!

  6. Vi

    Oh I’m liking the sound of this. A great MC, good romance, and a decent ending to a 1st book?! I gotta check it out now.

  7. Scott Pilgrim

    I have this one waiting to be read, your review just reassured me that I need to read this! I loved CoB and even though I’m not a huge romance fan, the Dark World sounds too awesome to pass up!

  8. Melliane

    The universe sounds so interesting and rich, I love when it’s like that. It’s just too bad about the details and the romance I confess but it’s still sound cool and as you say book 1 is usually an introduction so I hope the next one will be better.

  9. Lorna

    Sounds like I might like it, although I do like good world building. I also enjoy a good romance. The idea of a funny ghost best friend does intrigue me!Thanks for the good review 🙂

  10. Maddy @Symphony of Words

    It sounds like something I would definitely read, especially after that bit about the romance being similar to City of Bones. From your review, I kind of love the main protagonist, and she reminds me so much of Rose Hathaway from the VA series. Great review, Giselle 🙂

  11. Larissa

    I’m glad that you enjoyed this one more than me haha (: The comment you left on my review does actually make sense and I now actually understand how Paige got her powers lol.

    The romance was the largest problem for me, as it did seems to encompass everything. It took over the plot and everything regarding the Dark World. Alike you I was quite allured by the Dark World. I would have much appreciated seeing at least glimpses of it. Instead we were just given to us a view of it at the very end. I do understand that this is the beginning of a series, but still. I almost feel cheated when a book doesn’t live up to what it promises. For me the Dark World promised the story actually changing place in the Dark World, and not just for the last like 10 pages.

    Great review! <33

  12. Pili

    Glad to hear you managed to like this, despite the romance taking over the book for way too long. I don’t think this is gonna be the book for me, too much romance is so not my thing as of late!