Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear

Innocent Darkness
by Suzanne Lazear
Series: The Aether Chronicles Book #1
Publisher: Flux
Publication date: August 8, 2012
Genre: YA Fantasy
Purchase: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository

Wish. Love. Desire. Live.
Sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock's hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer's eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her and brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed, otherwise, the entire Otherworld civilization will perish.

The cover of Innocent Darkness called to the cover whore inside me and she immediately had to have it. I mean look at it~ in all of its steampunk finery. As the first book in the Aether Chronicles I went into this book expecting a steampunk novel with a fantasy twist. What I got was a young adult fantasy with a steampunk mention. I am noticing a trend in YA novels that seem to cross multiple genres and I am personally not happy about it. It waters down the genres and has me as a consumer leery about what I am actual buying. Despite my disappointment I did enjoy this dark fantasy.

The tale begins in steampunk-gooey-goodness as we meet our protagonist Magnolia “Noli” Braddock. She and her friend V are working on her missing father’s flying car. They reside in an alternate version of Los Angeles in the year 1901. We quickly learn that Noli is perceived as a hoyden and has a knack for getting into trouble. When she takes the flying car for an unauthorized spin she is forced to attend a reform school in San Francisco. This is where the steampunk element ends, except for a few teasers here and there that felt thrown in. At the school Noli tries to behave so she can be returned to her mother. The school is horrible with incredibly cruel punishments and a creepy staff. She befriends a girl named Charlotte, who would rather stay in this dreadful place then be returned to her uncle. When things get to be too much to bear Noli makes a wish to be "any place but here." She wakes to find herself in the Otherworld. The tale that unfolds has elements of suspense, sexual tension, magic, fairies, and romance. 

The characters in Lazear’s world are interesting but lacked depth. Noli is a brilliant child who tries to please her mother and has always had a crush on V.  Her brilliance constantly competes with her maturity level and she wavered back and forth between them. She wasn't developed enough for me and some of her actions were annoying. V adores Noli and has secrets, lots of secrets. Kevighn Silver is the huntsman for the Queen. He is sent from the Otherworld to find a young woman with the spark. While on his quests he indulges in hired woman and opium. There is something a little sick about Kevighn and he gave me the creeps.
The path the author leads him on never really worked for me.  Both V and Kevighn love Noli and I feared the dreaded love triangle. Noli did choose but the loser is not satisfied. The Queen was interesting and kind of reminded me of the queens from Alice in Wonderland and Snow White. I like Charlotte and my heart tugged for her. Overall these characters were unique but under developed.

The world-building was both exciting and disappointing. I really enjoyed the back story and the altered concept of 1901. Sadly this altered version of 1901 was not completely believable. Language, settings and circumstances didn’t quite jive for me. Lazear’s description of the Otherworld and how both worlds are kept in balance was both creepy and original. I loved this world and wanted to know more. The Fae world and its rules while not new were nicely depicted.The pace flowed nicely with highs and lows. There are two climatic scenes towards the end. One was very predictable and the other while not unexpected was filled with tension and excitement. While this novel had its flaws I still enjoyed it and will give this series a chance to redeem itself in book two.

This novel had the potential to be so much more. Fans of fantasy and the Fae will enjoy Innocent Darkness, while fans expecting a steampunk series will be greatly disappointed. The cover and the tale do not match and despite my disappointment this was an easy, light, enjoyable read. This could have easily earned, a five cups of coffee rating, had it focused more on the fantasy aspect and added more depth and detail. The next book in the series has yet to be titled and has an expected publication date of 2013. 

I want to thank Flux and netGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

I gave this novel 2.5 coffee cups out of 5.
Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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42 Comments:

At July 17, 2013 at 10:11 PM , Anonymous Michelle said...

I'm sorry this didn't quite hit the spot for you. I completely agree about some of the genre mixing going on, a few pull it off but sometimes it's just too much. I still want to try this one out but I'm glad I know about the lack of steampunk before I get around to it.
Great review!

 
At July 17, 2013 at 11:32 PM , Anonymous emaginette said...

Sorry to hear the cover was misleading. Better luck next time. :-)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 12:35 AM , Anonymous Michelle@ Book Briefs said...

I love the cover too. I just read aprils review of the book and your comment on the review so I knew I had to get over here and read your take on the story. I know what you mean about characters lacking depth and how frustrating it is. I am a very character driven person (as you can probably tell from my reviews) so it bums me out when I can't connect with them.
I do like fantasy and fae though so maybe I will enjoy this book.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kimba :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:28 AM , Anonymous Heidi said...

I know the cover whore in me got this book as well and now I am not overly excited since no one is raving over this one. I am glad at least it was an okay read for you. I hope I will at least somewhat enjoy it.

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:48 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

thanks Melissa :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:48 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

You make like this, I love steampunk and fantasy but this was mostly fantasy and fae. I did it enjoy it, despite the flaws and incorrect cover. :P

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:48 AM , Anonymous Sharon @ Obsession with Books said...

It is a gorgeous cover! It's such a shame it was disappointing, I enjoy a good fantasy & the fae but have never been one for Steampunk.

Thankyou for sharing Kimba :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:48 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

I know right! I was sooo looking forward to this one. I really am hoping book two redeems it. Thanks Jenna :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:49 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Right! Thanks MaryAnn :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

thanks Anna :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Yep when it works its lovely and when it doesn't Eep! I think to work it needs to be consistent through the whole novel and woven seamlessly into the plot not thrown in like a sponser ad for Pepsi on my favorite sitcom!

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous brandileigh2003 said...

I've totally noticed the crossover too. Sometimes it works but it sounds like it didn't so well with this one.
Hope your next read is better.
Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book
Blog

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

I love steampunk too Aundrey :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous Audrey D Wilkerson said...

It stinks when the cover is waaaaaay better than the book! I love a good steampunk book, too. Thanks for your review!

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf said...

That cover is Wicked gorgeous...shame that the book didn't completely live up to it's potential. I need to connect t the characters to really feel a book.

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Or at least hate them with a passion..LOL

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Thanks and I adore the cover just not on this book :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Thanks Roro :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

I hope you like it! If the characters had been more developed and the fantasy enhanced this could have been epic :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous rogier said...

sad to hear summr flux 2012 books have been a flunk
this , burn and narc
i read burn . it was meh. 2.5
tbx 4 the review

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

It may help that you are going into knowing the issues...the tale was good.

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Thanks Christy..I was disappointed and the cover pissed me off :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Thanks Pabkins I have the feeling we are not alone :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous Barbara W. said...

*applauds* I agreed with it all. :) Kevighn was pretty creepy, wasn't he? I can't figure out what he was doing in what sort of/sort of not a YA-ish book. I want to continue but I don't, you know? I think Noli will get better but I worry about Kevighn and the steampunk issue.

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Let's up the author loses the steampunk facade and focuses more on developing the characters and the fantasy side. Kevighn *shivers*

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Michelle..the tale itself is interesting enough and reminds me of Alice falling down the rabbit hole and I did enjoy it. I am hoping reviews like mine have them rethinking the direction of book two. :) I would love to hear your thought if you decide to read it.

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

You have no idea how disappointed I was..i drooled over this cover ..LOL

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Thanks Kristen...now I will be honest I loved Immortal Rules and the multiple genre worked for me..mainly in part because the world building was strong and the characters have depth. But the author has serious writing experience. Sadly that book was only one of a few gems I can think of that pulled it off.

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous Blodeuedd said...

The cover is just so cute and fun, too bad the story did not live up to your expectations. Dunno if it would work for me either

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Thanks Nick if you ignore the steampunk tease the fantasy aspects are cool, like I said I enjoyed it..but was personally very disappointed.

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Thanks Giselle. :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Excellent statement Kara..and the cover is wrong, wrong, wrong :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous Christy (Love of Books) said...

What's up with the whole switcheroo? The cover screams that it's full of Steampunk goodness, which I would've read. But turning it into so much fantasy w/ fae... not so much. Great review, Kimba. I probably would've been a little pissed if I read this..

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous Christina Franke said...

Boo! I suspect I'm going to feel the same about this. Thanks for the warning. I will readjust my expectations! Too bad. I hate when covers lie to me!

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous Kristin Clifton said...

Very insightful review, my girl!! I wasn't taken by it at first and now I'm in no big hurry. I totally agree on the watered down of the genres!! Spot on!! I noticed it first with The Immortal Rules (vampire, check! dystopia, check! zombies/horror, check!). We need something that'll call up images of the movie "The City of Lost Children" for our Steampunk fix (creepy French film but it's very good).

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous Nick said...

I loved the cover of this book too. It's sad to hear about the characters lacking depth and the steampunk elements being only vaguely mentioned. I think I would have felt the same way as you.
Characters and world-building are very important for me. I was thinking about reading this, but I might just pass. Thanks for the honest review, Kim. :)

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous Giselle Cormier said...

Hah this cover whored me out, too! I've put it off though because the reviews so far haven't been to motivating. Characters are the biggest thing for me and you're not the first who says they're lacking. I'm still curious but I'm not in a rush to read it. Great review, Kimba!

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kara-karina said...

I so agree with you, Kimba! Steampunk in this book is almost non-existent, and it also doesn't have the guts to be as dark as for example Melissa Marr and Holly Black when it describes fae. I suppose it's good as an introduction for YA readers to both topics, but not for someone who is used to more exploration of such world.

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:51 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

thanks Michelle :) I still enjoyed and hope you like it.

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:53 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Jenea I was bummed but there were aspects I liked. I look forward to reading your thoughts on it.

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:53 AM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

I know how you feel it's the same reason I grabbed it.

 
At July 18, 2013 at 2:53 AM , Anonymous Becky Paulk said...

Ugh. So upsetting that you didn't like it. The whole reason I grabbed it while at BEA was because I thought it was going to have tons of steampunk aspects to it because of the cover. I will still try it out, though. Thank you for reviewing it =D

 

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