Saturday, March 26, 2011

Teen review- Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

*this review was originally posted on Paperback Dolls
Darkness Becomes HerAri can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.
Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very...different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

*this review contains mild spoilers*
I couldn't put this book down. Right away the story grabbed my attention and I was along for the ride...

The story starts off with a young woman, 17 year old Ari visiting an insane asylum looking for information on her mother who was a resident/patient there until her death. What Ari discovers is that her mother apparently committed suicide and what's more is she left some bizarre clues behind for her daughter...including a warning to stay away from New Orleans--or what used to be New Orleans.

See, in Keaton's world New Orleans was pretty much wiped out due to the devastation of two MAJOR hurricanes that hit the southern city back to back. The government, wanting to wipe their hands of another expensive recovery opt to sell the city and surrounding area to the Novem, a separate organization made up of nine well to do families from New Orleans. The city is now referred to as New 2.

New 2 has become a safe haven for all things supernatural, paranormal, and the people who practice voodoo lifestyle. The Novem plan to restore the city to it's once "glorious splendor" but so far haven't gotten to every area. Because New 2 is separate from the US, they have their own way of doing things and it is very different than what Ari, and other normal people are used to...but Ari isn't exactly normal.

Ari has grown up in and out of foster homes and it hasn't been easy for her. She has finally found a foster family that loves her, though they aren't your average Joe family either...they are bondsman. Think-Dog the bounty hunter...yeah. Despite the less than traditional lifestyle of her foster parents, or maybe because of them Ari has found a reliable family unit that also trains her in the biz, so Ari is a pretty tough cookie.

Anyway, her foster parents have allowed Ari the opportunity to search for answers to her past, with one catch...if the clues lead to New 2, Ari is not to drive there and needs to ask one of them to go with her to find what she is looking for.

Then things get kind of creepy. A strange man, speaking a strange language shows up and tries to kill Ari outside her motel. After battling with the man she manages to slay him...but the body disappears.

Frantic to find answers and not totally thinking things through, Ari hitches a ride with a delivery truck headed back to New 2. The driver is young and seems to know a lot about things so Ari tags along with her and pays to stay in a room at the drivers house (which happens to be in Historic Garden District). Once there, Ari meets the rest of the gang living in the house, and they are all least to what Ari is used to, yet she strangely feels at home in the city and even more at home with people in the house. Especially the handsome young man Sebastian, who she is drawn to and a little annoyed with at first...though she does give him props for his mad-drumming skills. They kinda spark up a little romance that even though it was unrealistically rushed, I couldn't help but want them to hook up.

This is all just the tip of the iceberg much more happens it makes my head spin just thinking about it.

I do not want to spoil things for you so I will tell you this, I LOVED the authors world building. Considering home many supernatural concepts and mythology things she has going on in this book, Kelly Keaton did an amazing job of pacing everything and creating the atmosphere for readers to really feel like they were in the story. The places and characters just seemed to come alive!

The world itself kind of reminds me a of Sherilyn Kenyon's Chronicles of Nick series only from a girl's perspective, and this book has a darker tone to it than Kenyon's YA series. There are a couple places that describe some harsh situations including abuse and rape that might be tough for some people to read, and some of the language was more R rated than PG-13, but it went with the story so it didn't seem unnecessary.

I admit, I kinda cyber stalked the author's website and discovered how much research she actually did to create her world. Many of the places mentioned in the text are real places in New Orleans, including the streets, houses and cemeteries. It's pretty is what she said on her site:
* Most of the landmarks in New 2 do exist. Lafayette Cemetery, Cafe Du Monde, Cabildo Building, French Market… But please keep in mind that some of these landmarks have changed a bit to reflect the fictional world of New 2 and the decade + of neglect and abandonment in some areas. (Lafayette Cemetery, for instance, is in ruins, it’s walls compromised, and is now surrounded by an iron fence…). But these places all exist in real life, and are wonderful sights to visit if you get the chance!

Some local place names have been slightly changed as well to reflect the new city (though they’re recognizable to their counterparts).

* The Garden District Mansion (1331 First Street) exists as well. It’s known as the Morris-Israel House. (The house no. in the ARC appears incorrectly as 1239 — for some reason I was channeling Anne Rice, LOL. But it was corrected in copy edits and the correct no. is in the final copy of the book). ~Kelly Keaton

I was captivated by this book. I found it to be a fun and entertaining read. I finished the book wanting more and literally google-ing New Orleans and the places in the book. I even pondered dyeing my hair silver...probably not the best hair color for a natural red head, but I was a little obsessed (in a good way). Sure, there are some things that I didn't absolutely love and a couple of "what the heck?" moments but for the most part it was fantastic. With such an incredibly cool take on New Orleans and all the magical lore that is associated with the can't really go wrong. Add to that the really fun supporting characters and it is a double win!

~Peace & Love

Kelly Keaton

This book was given to Paperback Dolls for review courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

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