Saturday, July 9, 2011

Secrets and Series

I mentioned in a previous post that I had every intention of reading The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter despite the fact that I found The Darkest Lie to be skim worthy at best. I had a fairly positive experience with the early books in the series, and I really wanted to go on reading and enjoying them. So I'm very sorry to say that I really can't seem to get through The Darkest Secret either. Here I will try to explain why.

This book is about Amun, Keeper of Secrets. In the previous book he went on a quest to hell and was unfortunate enough to become possessed by many demons, and is now in anguish as a result. Haidee is a Hunter with a very long history. Suffice it to say she was once responsible for the death of a Lord--Baden. She has been reborn many times, each time losing happy memories. Strider captures her and puts her in a room next to Amun, where upon they find out that she calms him and keeps him sane.

I want to start off my mentioning the things that did work for me, lest I give the impression that this is a completely horrible book. I was really excited the have Amun as a lead character because he's one of the Lords that we don't know very well. I wanted him to be a wealth of interesting mystery and intrigue, and there are times when this book does give that impression. I also thought Haidee had potential and I liked her back story.

Right of the bat I had some issues with Amun and Haidee meeting under the circumstances that they did. They have some kind of magical/spiritual connection that heals his wounds...and that's fine. I can swallow that. But, she's also been dreaming of him and at first mistakes him for her boyfriend (who looks similar). Taken together that amounts to a pretty contrived initial interaction. Furthermore, the first third of this book is snail-pace slow because Amun is in a sick bed.

My next issue came with Amun's overly cavalier attitude toward Haidee's past. Remember, she helped to kill his friend. She had valid reasons for her actions, and I'm not at all trying to say that she's some sort of horrid villain. But I expected Amun to have feelings of conflicted loyalty--centuries old friendships vs. girl he just met that untrustworthy magic has connected him to. Some sign of an internal struggle would have gone a long way in helping me to connect with Amun.

I also want to mention some stylistic oddities. I don't know if I didn't notice these things in the previous books because I was too busy enjoying them, or if the editing has gotten more lax. Readers familiar with this series will know about Gilly, a teenage runaway, and how she has a crush on William. Their interactions are often sweetly awkward (and just a touch creepy) but in this book...let me show an example.

"Big, wide eyes of the purest chocolate. Sharp cheekbones that hinted at the passion she would one day be capable of giving. A pixie nose, slightly uptilted at the end. Lush pink lips. And framing all that beauty was a cascade of midnight hair." --Gena Showalter, The Darkest Secret

This is how William sees Gilly. I count eight adjectives in that short little paragraph--purple writing if ever I saw it. And I don't even know how exactly cheekbones hint at passion. And it gets weirder when he calls her "Gumdrop", or "Little Gilly Gumdrop". I guess that's supposed to be cute? For me it provoked nervous giggles and feelings of disturbance. I don't mean to imply that the whole book is like this, but there are certainly more examples of the like. Enough to have me cringing and wishing that Showalter had considered further editing.

The reason I really decided to give up on this book was simple boredom. I didn't feel a lot of emotional chemistry between Haidee and Amun. Sexual chemistry maybe, but that alone doesn't work for me. I found the premise unoriginal and the plot slow. I just didn't care what happened next, and after a week and a half of plodding along I felt it was time to raise the white flag. There are other books, after all.

According to my trusty Kindle, I made it 60% of the way through this book. In the interest of fairness, I'm not going to assign it a star rating. But I will say, if you have any doubts about this book, I recommend not even bothering. The early Lords of the Underworld books are decent, but I'm afraid the series has lost it's magic. DNF

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