Sep 27, 2011

Posted by in Reviews | 16 Comments

Review: Darkness Unbound by Keri Arthur (Dark Angels #1)

Urban Fantasy
September 27 2011
Mass Market Paperback
384 pages
Dell Publishing
Received from publisher

Kick Ass Chick – Risa Jones

From Goodreads –
Risa Jones is as extraordinary as her heritage. Born from a lab-enhanced clone mother and an Aedh father, she can not only talk to the souls of the dying and the dead, but she can see the reapers and walk the gray fields that divide this world from the next.

They are skill she rarely uses, however, preferring to concentrate on the business she shares with her two best friends. But when her mother asks her to help the parents of a little girl locked in a coma, she reluctantly agrees. What she discovers scares the hell out of her. Because the little girl’s soul no longer resides in her body, and it wasn’t death and the reapers that took her.

Someone had ripped her soul from her flesh.
As it turns out, a creature consuming the souls of the innocent–and not so innocent–is the least of her problems.
Because someone wants to rip open the gates that divided hell from earth, and Risa is a key component in their plans.
And the only person standing between her and disaster is a reaper who isn’t exactly on her side.


Darkness Unbound is the first book in Keri Arthur’s newest series, Dark Angels.  I have not read this author before but I am aware that her Riley Jensen series appears on many favorite lists.  Therefore, when I found out that Keri was writing a new series that takes place in the same world as her Riley books, I jumped on the chance to give it a try.  And after reading this book and finally experiencing this author’s writing, I can see why she has such a loyal following.

Darkness Unbound is an angel book…but not.  It’s a ghost book…but not.  It’s got shifters and mages and vampires and reapers…yet it’s not like any paranormal book I’ve ever read.  The mix of all of these beings in one book, while you think it would be daunting, really wasn’t.  It reads like you’ve been in this world many times before and like you know what is going on, but you don’t feel lost.  I did not feel as though I was missing out on some vital information not having read the previous series.  Was I curious about how some couples and situations came to be?  Of course.  But did it hinder my reading experience of this book?  Not at all.

The main heroine in this new series is Risa Jones, a half werewolf and half Aedh.  An Aedh is…well, it’s tricky to explain, but I’ll give it my best shot.  An Aedh is a being that can take human form while on earth or can turn into a sort of mist.  When in mist form, no one can see or hear them and they can travel to the gray planes, the place between light and dark.  There is more to it that that, and it is way cool, but that would be the best I can do.   Risa can call on her Aedh side but not on her wolf side, so she can’t shift into a wolf, but she does have some other wolf-ish traits.  And since she is a Halfling, she stays in her human form but can call on her Aedh side and transform to mist.  Yeah….cool.

I really liked Risa.  She is strong and self-assured (I loved her confidence when she went into any situation) but she knows how important a strong support system and is not afraid to admit when something is way over her head.  She is very close to her mother, to her ‘aunt’ Riley and to Riley’s family.  She has two best friends/roommates, Tao and Ilianna, whom I also loved.  I was glad to see that the author didn’t kill any of them off in this first installment and therefore allowing them to appear in future installments of this series. *g*

Lucian is another character I can’t wait to learn more about.  He is an Aedh but has a story to tell about it.  And boy oh boy is he yum-my!  He and Risa together are electrifying!  I hope hope hope he is a constant in this series because they are great together.  A heads up though, you’ll need a fan handy for after you read some of their scenes.  Wowza.

The world Keri created here is very intricate and the details of it are amazing.  Reapers follow people around for a little while before they are due to die.  (Risa can see them and it kind of bums her out.)  A reaper’s job is to help the newly departed’s soul navigate through the gray space.  Souls can be redeemed and almost all are one day reborn.  Ghosts are the result of a person not dying when they were supposed to or when the person’s soul refuses the reaper’s help.  And as I said, all the different beings and characters mixed into all this makes this a really cool world.  But I never felt overwhelmed by information.  The first few chapters bring you up to speed and that’s that.  The story happens while you learn and then takes off from there.  I can’t say that I felt as though one part of this book was slow or sluggish.  I enjoyed the pace and found it read really well.

The story itself consists of one big constant story that looks like it will be the focus for this series’ story arc, and a smaller story line that wraps up at the end of this book, but still goes along with the main story.  I like when a UF series is written that way.  Then you get some closure at the end of each book but there is still so much going on that you can’t wait to get your hands on the next book to see where it will all ultimately lead you.  (In this series’ case, the next book is Darkness Rising and it’s due out October 25th 2011.  I already have it written in my planner.)  I won’t go into what the stories are because I really think any fan of Urban Fantasy books should give this one a try.  But I will say that there are gates opening that shouldn’t be opening and many people who may or may not resort easily to violence looking for answers.  And keys.  There are keys involved.  And a creepy dark mist thing who is stealing souls *shudder*.  And there is a very emotional scene that you know is coming but you still can’t prepare yourself fully for and it will make you cry.  It still breaks my heart just thinking about it.  *sigh*

This is a series I am excited to get addicted to.  With amazing characters, riveting storylines that weave together beautifully and action mixed with emotion that grips you from page one, Urban Fantasy fans will find it practically impossible not to dive in and not look back.

5 stars

Giggle worthy quote

“Reapers came in all shapes and sizes, often taking the form most likely to be accepted by those they’d come to collect.  I’m not sure what it said about me that my reaper was shirtless, tattooed, and appeared to be wearing some sort of sword strapped across his back.”

Books in the Dark Angels series –
Darkness Unbound
Darkness Rising (October 2011)
Darkness Devours (June 2012)

  1. *ack* I know better, but I read your review. This sounds really good, but I need an answer. Is the lack of resolution/HEA for Risa & Lucian going to drive me nuts?? *please say no….* smiles…

  2. I absolutely loved this one too! Thanks so much for letting me borrow it Julie! You’ll get it back soon, I’ve been playing hookie from work for a few days… I haven’t read anything by Keri since her Riley Jensen Guardian series ended last year but I was lining up on release day to buy every new installment and I have a sneaky feeling that the Dark Angels series will have the same effect on me!

  3. OMG 5 Stars!!! YAY!! I pre-ordered this one and just downloaded it. Cannot freaking WAIT to start it 😀

  4. I think you really see the story and characters really good. I loved your review!

  5. I haven’t read Arthur’s Riley Jensen series yet either, but I’m really intrigued by the premise. This series sounds really wicked, too. I love the incorporation of many different supernatural creatures.

  6. Oh no, a 5. Lol yes that is what I think when I see a great book, cos that makes me want it 😉

  7. Great review! Like I already told you I’ve ordered this and am expecting it in the post tomorrow! Cannot wait to read it! I’ve always wanted to read a Keri Arthur book but I wasn’t and still aren’t sure on her Riley Jensen series you know how I’m still so undecided on UF works! So I’m eager to give this one ago and see how it goes. Thanks for been a great book pimp! 😀

  8. Christi – Don’t worry. It’s a nice feeling of a hot relationship getting started between Risa and Lucian. Hot.

    Carmel – Jason will be at the bookstore on October 25th. I just haven’t told him yet. 😉

    Pamela – You’ll like it! If you don’t, well that will leave me to question every book chat we have ever had. *g*

    Jamie – Thanks! It really was a great read.

    Smash Attack – I think you’ll like this one. With all the Paranormal stuff you and I read Ash, it’s nice to see that there are still unique ideas out there! 🙂

    blodeuedd – I know! Seeing 5 star ratings on someone’s review always makes me *gulp* a bit before reading said review because I know that there is a 97% chance that book will end up on my to-check-out list as soon as I reach the end. LOL

    Ally – Can’t wait for you to read it too!!! I really think you’ll like it – even with your like/meh relationship with UF. It’s a great story with steaminess mixed in. Great for you! 😉

  9. Oh I need to get my hands on this – Keri is one of the very rare Aussie authors in this genre

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d out

  10. Ooh, I can’t wait to read this. I have read the Riley Jensen series and it’s one of my favorites. From what I’ve heard, Riley and Quinn do make a couple of cameos in this one and that alone would be enough to get it onto my wishlist.

  11. I haven’t read anything by Keri Arthur but had heard great things about her books, I guess I’ll follow your lead and start with this series too.
    As always great and fun review.

  12. I really like her other series so I’m very curious about this one. The cover is gorgeous and the synopsis very intriguing ! Thanks for your review ! It really makes me want to read it ! Ghosts, vampires, angels… a great mix

  13. Great review Julie. I don’t know if I’ve heard of Keri Arthur or not but this book sounds like one I really need to check out! Maybe I’ll put this book and Darkness Rising on my books to read after graduation when I have more time to read. 😀

  14. Ok, you’ve convinced me. Going to see if my library has this one right now!

  15. Shelleyrae – I don’t know why, but I think it’s cool that she’s from your end of the world. lol

    JenM – Riley is in this quite a bit. Quinn is mentioned but I can’t recall him actually being there. If yes, it’s very little. Rhoan and his mate are there a little more though. 🙂

    Bookaholic Cat – It’s a good introduction. You could always steal my copy. I’ll leave it in your pile. Just make sure you bring my books back when you are done, okay? 😉

    Melliane – It is a great mix. And you’re right about the cover. It’s wonderful…and leave you wondering about the wings. *g*

    Deanna – Your to-read list after graduation is going to be crazy huge! LOL

    Colette – Can’t wait to read your review! 😉

  16. Julie – that’s interesting that Quinn is not really present. In Keri’s comments about the book last year, I thought she said that Quinn would be there, but Riley wouldn’t. That actually made sense because Quinn is part Aedh also and I thought he was going to be tutoring Risa on how to use her powers. Too bad because he’s pretty hot. Anyway, I’ll just have to get the book and read it for myself!


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