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.The 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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