Friday, April 6, 2012

Innocent Darkness (The Aether Chronicles, #1)

Innocent Darkness (The Aether Chronicles, #1)Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Innocent Darkness is a story about Noli, a girl who lost her social status and her chances for a good marriage when her father disappeared, and is forced to go to a boarding school for troubled girls, from where she is later taken to Faery to become the human sacrifice that will save the entire realm. She is found and taken by the queen’s ruthless huntsman Kevighn. He somehow falls in love with Noli even though she’s just one of many girls he’s kidnapped and brought to his queen to be killed. Noli’s best friend V, whom she has feelings for, turns out to be none other than the earth court prince in exile and comes rushing to save her.

If someone had given me a copy of Innocent Darkness without the cover and the publisher info, I’d have dropped it after less than 20%, thinking that it’s self-published, and one of those books that gives self-publishing a bad name. Innocent Darkness seems unfinished and unpolished. It lacks structure, it’s full of rough transitions, repetitiveness and contradictions. In fact, to me it seemed more like a draft than like a finished book. It was very rough around the edges and uneven in more ways than one. The transitions between different points of view tended to be too abrupt and badly handled so they always came like a slap in the face.

In some ways, the book seemed very childish, but then there was just enough sex and opium to make me uncomfortable. (Reading about either of those things doesn’t make me uncomfortable in itself, but in this case, it didn’t fit well with the rest of the story.) I am glad that the author decided to tackle the topic of sexual abuse; after all, something like that is highly probable in a boarding school where unprotected girls get examined by a male doctor who has absolute power over them. I just wish the rest of the book wasn’t quite so naïve.

The language was another thing that didn’t sit well with me at all. I’m certainly not an expert in English language, I’m not even a native speaker, but I can recognize a failed attempt when I see one. It wasn’t nearly formal enough for that time (1901), alternate history or not, and throwing in a few archaisms and repeating them over and over again couldn’t have possibly worked.

I didn’t actually do a search to see how many times the exact words ‘opium and soft women’ were used, but it must have been over fifteen. To me, this shows that the author doesn’t know the first thing about opium users (or soft women) and that she didn’t do any research whatsoever, but instead adopted this expression because it sounded good to her (or it sounded like an appropriate activity for a man beyond redemption) and insisted on repeating it twice in every chapter. That brings me to Kevighn, the Faery queen’s huntsman, who indulges in all this opium and soft women and is one of the most underdeveloped characters I’ve ever come across. I’m still not quite sure what his role or his motivations were supposed to be, but his entire situation was left completely open, which makes me think that he’ll be very important in the sequel.

At the beginning, I liked Noli’s best friend V, even though he was a bit of a cliché, but as the story progressed and he was conveniently given the role that was most needed at the time, the whole thing (and his character) became utterly ridiculous. The way the plot was solved was also entirely predictable and childish and in complete contrast with the darker parts of the book I’ve mentioned earlier. That ending would have fit better in a children’s book, but for an adult, or even a young adult, it’s almost insulting.

I guess I’ve made it abundantly clear that I won’t be reading the next book in the Aether Chronicles. At best, this book needs a lot more work, but frankly, I’m not sure it can be saved.


  1. LOL at "Kevighn." There's no way I would have read this anyway, but that ending sounds like something I would loathe! I hate it when otherwise dark books go for the neat/overly simple ending. Ruins the whole thing for me! Great review today!

  2. I probably won't be giving this a try any time soon now. Most people seem to either dislike this book entirely or have mixed thoughts on it. I had been looking forward to this one too! It's a shame you had to waste your time reading this, Maja, but thank you for saving me from the trouble. ;)

  3. Ugh...I got this book from Netgalley and was so looking forward to it! I'll still give it a try, I just won't go in with high expectations. Awesome review!

    All the best ♥
    Mackenzie @ Oh, For the Love of Books!

  4. Darn, I was really looking forward to reading this since I got it off of netgalley. *sigh* Guess I should brace myself for the impact. Thanks for the review!

    Shortskie @ Rondo of a Possible World

  5. Great, I have this book as well. Guess I will be suffering through it, oh well you have to have a few negative reviews to make you credible. I had hopes that this might be fun and unique, guess not. Thanks for the warning. Enjoy your Easter weekend Maja :)

  6. Thanks for the review!
    i was not interested in this book
    so i will not touch it

  7. Aww sorry you had to struggle you're way through this Maja, but thanks for the honest review, hopefully you're next read will be much better :)

  8. I guess this would've been time better spent baking yummy things:)

  9. Oh, gosh. This one sounds positively awful. This one definitely sounds like it's NOT one for me. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this book, Maja. :( Everything sounds so silly and... amateur. I'll skip this one. Thank you so much for your candid and helpful, Maja! Hopefully, your next book will be mind blowing. :)

  10. Damn it! Now I'm going to have to go through my new book and delete all my references to opium and soft women. Disappointing, to say the least.

    1. Pfft, right! Like Frank could ever be that boring and predictable.

  11. Aww, it's too bad that you didn't love this one, Maja! :( I was looking forward to it as well because YAY steampunk and faeries and (we have to admit it) a gorgeous cover! But you know you can't stand a book when you compare it to the low side of self-publishing. Still, your reviews are always helpful and honest and extremely trust-worthy, so if I ever DO decide to pick this one up, I'll make sure to take your warnings in stride so I won't be too disappointed :)

    Thanks so much for the amazing honest review, Maja! <3

  12. Maja, your reviews always leave me feeling excited and giddy about the book... or utterly and completely hopeless about it. It's such a shame that you have to read a book with ending that leaves you feeling almost insulted! From your review, it seems to me that the author is torn between making the book a safe read or a dark book with unsettling details. A book that beyond salvation? Oh my, I don't think that I would touch this book soon! Thank you for the warning, Maja, and to suffer throughout the story so you can tell us the tale! Finger crossed you'll find a better book soon. :)

  13. eek..I have this for review and was really looking forward to it. Sorry this didn't work for you.

  14. Awww...I actually really wanted to read this book because the cover looks gorgeous, the summary sounds awesome and it's been a while since I read a steampunk book! I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it. Might try reading this book when I have the time to see what it's like.

    Awesome review, Maja! ♥

  15. You know, that was one hell of a good cover, and I'd have requested it if my TBR hadn't been so saturated already. As it is, seeing your review, I think I have to make some offerings to the gods of overworked people or something.

    Seriously, the story had potential, I think, going from the blurb... But ideas like this one need to be fully developped, well-thought out, and it takes a lot of talent to make it dark and romantic and interesting. And this one, obviously, doesn't fit the bill. Childish plot devices, flat characters, and an attempt to tackle adult themes? There's no faster way to scare me away from a book.

    Thanks for suffering through the book so I know to give it a wide berth, Maja! Great review, as always :)

  16. Ouch. I'm not sure if this is the one for me or not. Excessive repetition of certain phrases in a book usually annoys me, and it sounds like the characters are lacking in development, which is a major pet peeve of mine. I think I'll steer clear for now. If a copy happens to fall in my lap or catch my eye at the library, I might give it a shot.

  17. Hey Maja. Thanks for the follow! Following back. This book sounded interesting from the summary but after your review I guess the story seemed a bit unfinished. But if I randomly see it I'll give it a look.


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