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Innocent Darkness (The Aether Chronicles, #1)

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.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

4 out of 5 stars

I have had this book sitting on my shelf since last autumn and have been letting it loiter around collecting dust for months. I confess that the reason was greatly due to another steampunk I read and didn’t enjoy very much. I don’t have a lot of experience with the genre (this is the second one I’ve tried), so I wasn’t sure if it was just that book or not. Turns out, it was just that book. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one and I plan to pre-order the sequel!

The plot:

I thought this was an interesting, fascinating story and it may just be my affinity for faeries, but I had so, so much fun reading this! I did not see most of the twists coming and the suspense was more than adequate to keep me on the edge of my seating dying to know what would happen next!

The characters:

Noli is an intelligent, curious girl who is strong without being rebellious or snotty. While she has a brilliant mind and an active imagination, her curiosity can still get her into trouble. She is a loving daughter and a loyal sister in spite of everything and I found her to be both relatable and engaging as an MC.

There is a love triangle in this story. Normally, that would be a turn-off point for me, but Ms. Lazear has achieved the impossible—she has written a good love triangle. That is to say it was neither cheesy nor cliché and I am highly impressed. This is perhaps the fourth love triangle I have read which I consider to be done well (two were by the same author in the same series and neither ever got past a kiss, so do they still count?).

V was one corner of the love triangle. Young, dutiful, a good son, a loyal friend, an honest worker, wants only what’s best for Noli and his people—unfortunately, those two things may be exact opposites. I cared very deeply for V and liked how he understood and loved Noli for who she was. He was smart, kind-hearted, and everything a girl should want.

Kevighn Silver is the other corner of the love triangle. The High Queen’s huntsman, he is a smooth talker who lies as easily as breathing and has a proclivity for opium and scarlet women. He has as many vices as anyone and the attention span of a rabbit when it comes to the opposite sex. But under it all, he has a tragic past and the remnants of a conscience.

Now would you like to know which team I am on? Well, I’m ashamed to say I’m on Team Kevighn. Why? Good question. An excellent question in fact. I’m not really sure. It’s not as if I’m a fan of the “bad boy” archetype. I think it’s something to do with the way he talks about his sister and the way he tried to protect her and the way he seems to be hiding a lot of pain behind that chevalier exterior. That is not to say that I think Noli should have chosen him in this book—far from it. I am just hoping that the bloke gets his act together and works through his plethora of “issues” so that he and Noli can be together in three books or so.

This is a wonderful story and I recommend it to 14+ YA readers and lovers of steampunk and fantasy. Suzanne Lazear has created a wonderful world and I can’t wait to return to it in Charmed Vengeance coming in August!

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