"Aidan O'Linn's childhood ended the night he saw a demon kill his mother and mark his sister, Ava, with Darkness. Since then, every three years the demons have returned to try to claim her. Living in the gritty, forgotten corners of Los Angeles, Aidan has managed to protect his sister, but he knows that even his powers to fight demons and speak dead languages won't keep her safe for much longer.
In desperation, Aidan seeks out the help of Sid, the enigmatic leader of a group of teens who run LA Paranormal, an Internet reality show that fights demons and ghosts. In their company, Aidan believes he's finally found a haven for Ava. But when he meets Kara, a broken girl who can spin a hypnotic web of passionate energy, he awakens powers he didn't know he had - and unleashes a new era of war between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness.
With the fate of humanity in his hands, can Aidan keep the Darkness at bay and accept his brilliant, terrifying destiny?"
Title: Darkness Brutal
Author: Rachel A. Marks
Publication Date: 7/1/15
I would like to thank Skyscape & NetGalley for an e-ARC of this book to review. Though I received this e-book for free, that has no impact upon the honesty of my review.
Aidan & Ava O'Linn are interesting characters, though we learn much more about Aidan than his younger sister Ava in this book. Having survived a particularly unpleasant childhood, which ended with the death of his mother when he was only nine, Aidan comes bearing a fair load of baggage. On top of all his confusion and guilt surrounding his feelings toward his mother are his intense feelings about his little sister. He essentially raised her, even before their mother's death. So when her powers begin to manifest and she doesn't try to hide them Aidan panics. And he's got good reason to do so, seeing as demons have been after her since her third birthday - and the night their mother died.
This all leads up to his accepting a place to stay and job with the rather eccentric Sid. Sid seems to collect kids with unusual talents, using them to run the LA Paranormal company; they investigate haunting so, etc. and then banish the ghosts. All on tape for their Internet show on YouTube. But the house is off the grid and heavily warded, so Aidan takes a chance. He struggles with stepping out of the shadows, not to mention his concerns over some of the seedier aspects of LA Paranormal's operation. But he does it without protest, all for Ava.
The other kids at Sid's place are Connor, Jax, Lester, Holly, Finger, and Kara. Of them all Kara is the one that both attracts and repels Aidan. With some of his other talents he can see people's history in a roundabout way. And Kara's breaks his heart, even while his attraction to her grows. Despite his increasing attraction to Kara he still finds himself drawn to Rebecca, a young girl he rescued from a gang rape, and ultimately from herself. There's a purity about her that draws him like a moth to a flame. Having Rebecca seek shelter at Sid's place seemed smart at the time, but now he's stuck between two girls he likes, just for different reasons.
Characters in this book are well conceived and crafted. Though Aidan is clearly the central star, Kara, Ava, and Sid are a strong second tier. And I've no doubt the others will come into greater play in the next book. The link between the growth of each character and the development of the plot is well done, with both plot and characters moving the story forward at a good clip, while never getting to wrapped up in one or the other for to long. And though this book has a fairly calm ending, it still remains a cliffhanger when all is said and done.
Given the plot, context, and sub-context it would help increase your understanding of this book if you have at least a basic grasp of the history of Christianity and Judaism. Yet if you go into this with little or no knowledge it still gives you enough of a foundation to grasp what's going on, just maybe not all the subtleties. And though the story is steeped in religion, don't let that turn you away. As a pagan I was in no way offended by this story, nor did I ever feel that I was being preached at. The lessons contained within are basic lessons of how we should all hope to be treated; nor are they shoved down your throat, but simply put out there for you to do with what you will.
Rachel A. Marks is an award-winning author and professional artist, a SoCal girl, cancer survivor, a surfer and dirt-bike rider, chocolate lover and keeper of faerie secrets. She was voted: Most Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse, but hopes she'll never have to test the theory. Her debut series The Dark Cycle, described as Dickens' Oliver Twist meets TV's Supernatural, is now out through Skyscape, beginning with DARKNESS BRUTAL.