Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear
Reading level: Young Adult
Trade paperback: 391 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn (Flux)
Release date: August 8, 2012
Series: The Aether Chronicles #1
Reviewed by: Stéphanie
Source: Personal Shelf
Noli Braddock and her best friend V’s incident with a flying auto have landed them in a heap of trouble. And when Noli is sent to a spirit-squelching reform school in San Francisco, she’s sure that her rebellious adventures are over.
Meanwhile, Kevighn Silver has been ordered by the Faerie Queen to bring a mortal girl back to the Otherworld. The magic requires a blood sacrifice every seven years, and only a mortal girl who shines with the Spark—a girl like Noli—will keep the Otherworld from complete destruction.
When an ill-timed wish sends Noli tumbling into the Otherworld, she’s more homesick than ever . . . until V arrives to save her from an untimely demise. But who exactly is V? And if he helps Noli escape, who will save the realm of Faerie from utter annihilation?
Sweet is the first word that comes to mind when it comes to describing INNOCENT DARKNESS. There’s something sweet and innocent about the main character and the story that makes the transition from the mortal world to the fae world almost believable. Almost everything about the novel is original, whether it’s the characters, the setting or magic. As a debut novel, I think the mash-up between steampunk and fairy is unique and works very well to create an engaging story.
Magnolia, or Noli as her friends call her, started off as a normal girl, despite her keen ability to get into trouble. Crashing an unregistered flying car was the last straw, and the police force more or less forced her mother to send her to reform school. However, Findley School is unlike any normal boarding school. They pride themselves in sucking the life out of girls, or the Spark as the fairies like to call it, in order to create “proper” and “marriageable” society ladies. Personally, I would call it brainwashing.
Noli’s spirit can only endure so much of this torturous school so she does the only thing she can think of: she decides to run away. When she unknowingly wishes to be “anywhere but here” while sitting in a fairy tree, she’s transported to the Otherworld, the world of fairies. Attracted by her Spark, Kevin Silver, the fairy Queen’s huntsman, follows her in the portal and tries to gain her confidence once on the other side. No ordinary huntsman, Kevin’s quest is to find a girl with strong Spark every seven years in order to sacrifice her to stabilize the magic that bind the Otherworld and all worlds together. Unaware of the threat Kevin poses, Noli still doesn’t entirely trust the fae, especially since he never delivers on his promise to bring her back home to her mother.
Steven (or V as Noli likes to call him) is a character I can’t fail to mention. Noli’s childhood best friend, he has secrets of his own and he’ll stop at nothing to bring Noli back home. I admire his tenacity and his dedication to the task, especially since helping a mortal escape the fairy world isn’t a small task. I would love to talk more about him but since I don’t want to ruin the surprise, I’ll let you discover his secrets on your own.
Personally, I find steampunk America and fairy elements work well together to create this unforgettable world. I would have liked to have seen more steampunk elements but since a lot of the story was set in the fairy world, the author was restricted a little bit on that front. I find it interesting that the author used Los Angeles and San Francisco as the settings for the novel instead of using the typical Victorian London that so many others use. The writing is still a bit raw and could use a little work but overall, I found INNOCENT DARKNESS to be an engaging read. Every little element of the book combine to make an excellent young adult read that I would recommend it to anyone who likes the genre. I will definitively read the rest of the series, especially since the ending of INNOCENT DARKNESS sets us up for a interesting sequel. What do you think? Do you find fairy and steampunk work well together?