Release Date: August 8, 2012
Source: BookExpo America
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.
Innocent Darkness is a book that has been talked up a lot to me and I'm here to say that it didn't disappoint at all! I definitely hesitate going into books with a lot of buzz about them because I always worry that I'll have unrealistic expectations. My sister read Innocent Darkness and loved it, so I read it right after her.It had a lot of rich description and developed characters with distinctive personalities. I was a huge fan of Noli from the beginning and loved how she stayed true to herself no matter what. There were so many different slashes of genres in it that it was really something entirely different from anything else out there.Suzanne Lazear has a lush writing style that I adored. I indulge myself in writing like this and am so excited for future projects of hers. I met her at BEA so I liked her already, but her writing was wonderful!The plot twisted and was filled with turmoil, but unfortunately, there wasn't must of a climax. Histories and relationships intertwined in this steampunk faerie tale. It had a Gothic feel and I would recommend this to fans of Lament, Wicked Lovely, The Clockwork Prince, and Leviathan. I can see it appealing to a wide variety of readers. I came into it with high expectations and came out with my expectations surpassed.The characters were strong and I can see possibilities for growth in the next installment. The plot itself was compelling and tantalizing. I really loved this book and am looking forward to when it's out in the world so that I can order everybody I know to buy it! It's very different than anything I've read before.Read my extended review...Extended Review:Also, I actually met the author at BEA Blogger's Conference and she was one of the first YA authors that I've ever met. I ran into her while waiting for the bathroom and she was dressed in an awesome steampunk outfit. She gave me bookmarks and we talked about Irish step dancing. She was awesome as a person so I was praying that I really liked her book!The premise was wonderful. It was almost like Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld in a way that it was warped history. It's a very steampunk and scientific version of 1901. It took some historical liberties and made it work in a way that made the faerie tale aspect of it much more appealing. I love faerie tales, but there are only so many that a girl can take.I ended up reading this way into the night. Way past when I should have been asleep. It was completely worth the lack of sleep and yawns the next morning. It was vivid and lovely and exactly what I want to find in a book.The first scene was very evocative and very well described. I immediately could tell that I would be loving the writing in it. It's not bland or something that I've seen before. It's filled with life and I love discovering writers with unique writing.Noli was a strong heroine that I immediately liked. She had fire and wasn't afraid to stand up for herself. She was also really thoughtful and wanted to do everything possible for her mother. She had a great relationship with her best friend V and was passionate about fixing her dad's hovercar. She's a bit reckless but she has her mother's best interests at heart. It's no wonder that she has the Spark, something extra that makes humans special and is the reason that she's chosen for the sacrifice.I also really enjoyed how her character developed. She became slightly more mature and more aware of herself as the book progressed, and she didn't let falling in love change her. She didn't change herself for the guy. No matter what situation she was in, she managed to keep her essence. She wasn't the type of character that you normally see but she had a personality that was completely vibrant.When Noli is sent off to a prissy reform school after crashing her hovercar, she discovers that the school puts into practice some less-orthodox ways to get their girls to cooperate. She misses her mother, V, and is scared after her dad disappeared years before in San Francisco, the same place where her new school is located.When Noli makes a wish in a secret garden on Midsummer's Eve, she has no idea how much power that her wish has. It's incredibly lucky for Kevign, who had almost given up hope of finding a sacrifice with the Spark as the deadline grew near. And the fate of entire races of faerie is held in the balance.I loved the slang like "dollymop" and "hoyden". It's used so effortlessly and seamlessly that you get it almost immediately through context and they remain constants throughout the book. It definitely adds to the mood of it all and the idea of the changed history.Kevign was so alluring. He was a charmer, and his description and dialogue definitely conveyed that. He seemed like one of those people that would be so magnetic, those people you just want to be around all the time. It was hard to tell what was real for him and what was part of the act though. He had some backstory that I'm interested to learn more about. I didn't really believe that he was in love with Noli because his mood didn't really change from when he was just trying to lure her back with him to use as a sacrifice. He had almost given up hope of satisfying the queen and was planning on spending his days in opium dens with scarlet women. But he was charming and shifty.V was thoughtful and more of a nice guy than anything else. As the book goes on, we learn more and more about him and some surprising information is revealed. There are some twists throughout the book that were executed very well. He went by several names throughout the book depending on who was addressing him but it didn't get confusing. I also liked how he was Noli's childhood friend because it made it a lot more friendlier.Warning: there was a love triangle. Some people are sick of the love triangle but it actually worked in this book even though it wasn't really that much of a choice for Noli. Hopefully we'll see it develop more in the next installment but it didn't bother me. I don't mind love triangles as long as they have a purpose and I think that it was good for the plot.There were some mentions of characters and supporting characters that I really enjoyed hearing about. The queen may remind some of Beira (the winter queen) in Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. I really adored seeing all these bits and pieces of moods and feelings that I thought I would never find again. There are some books that are so singularly themselves that you never think you'll find anything like them again. But this genre-mash of a book has really satisfied a lot of what I crave in a book.I really loved Charlotte because even though she was a victim of a lot of awful circumstances, she was willing to give up so many things for the people that she loved. Her backstory was terrible and sad but she fought through it and had that something special (Spark) along with Noli. She was definitely one of my favorite characters.One of the things that may irritate some readers (although I really didn't have a problem with it) was that there was a lot of head jumping. There were often ideas from different character's heads throughout the book and sometimes that evaporated tension.I loved how Noli had a very strong affinity for the earth. She liked to work - on hovercars and gardens! Her affinity contributed a lot to the story and was important in several ways. It also tied into Kevign's backstory and V's backstory. I really enjoyed all of the different elements that tied in together. It was all very intricate and lovely.Readers of Lament and Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater will enjoy this sparkling tale. I kept flashing back to that mood that saturated both novels. Something that you can't quite put your finger on but just kept me reading. I found that same feeling in Innocent Darkness.I loved the steampunk in this novel, although after she went to the Otherworld, it didn't show up as much. In the beginning and when Noli goes to the Underworld, there was a lot of description and world-building. I have gushed about this before but I am a sucker for description. It added a new element to a tried-and-true faerie tale. There was also a twist later that blew me away.The only thing that was a real negative for me was that there wasn't really a climax. None of it ever clashed. Noli had some decisions to make and some things happened, but nothing quite momentous enough to label as the climax of the book. I wished that there would have been a little more pizzazz to the end of the book. I was slightly disappointed by the end of the book but am eagerly awaiting the next installment.Another thing is that younger YA readers may not want to read this. There were some sexual acts and mentions throughout the book. It wasn't a ton, but it was more explicit than in some other books. I'd recommend this for those in high school or anybody mature enough to handle the subject matter. Just a warning for some of you who still mostly read MG :)Overall, I really enjoyed Innocent Darkness. I can definitely see some room for improvement in a sequel but not much can surpass my satisfaction with this one. Wily characters who aren't afraid to stand up for themselves, beautiful writing, and a mash of some genres that I adore makes for a stunning read. Innocent Darkness kept me turning pages early into the morning!
Recommended for anybody who loves: Leviathan; Wicked Lovely; Lament; The Clockwork Prince; steampunk; historical fiction; genre-mash; etc,.
Possible book club questions:
Do you think that love triangles have saturated the YA market? What's your take on them? Was it necessary in the book?
How is the Otherworld similar to other faery worlds that you've read in other novels? How is it similar to other faery worlds?
How did Noli's character change throughout the book?
Do you believe that Kevign is in love with Noli? Why or why not?