________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 20. . . .January 29, 2010



Lesley Livingston.
Toronto, ON: HarperCollins, 2010.
312 pp., pbk., $17.99.
ISBN 978-1-55468-345-1.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

*** /4

Reviewed from Uncorrected Proof.



The second bolt slammed into the Faerie hunter’s thigh, and he roared with unbridled rage, falling heavily to one knee. Sonny pulled a bundle of three short tree branches bound with a red cord from the satchel and, with a whispered incantation, transformed them into the silver-bladed sword that was his signature weapon. He approached the hunter, easily parrying the pain-clumsy, one-handed blows the Fae directed at him and knocking the blade from the hunter’s hand. His opponent was almost entirely corporeal now –– the effects of the iron stuck in his flesh spreading rapidly. Still it was a surprise when, with a ragged, defiant battle cry, he launched himself in a tackle around Sonny’s waist and slammed him to the ground, breaking his grip on his own sword, which flew out of reach.

This is new, Sonny thought, struggling to keep the strong, graceful hands of the hunter from closing off his windpipe. Most High Fae, unlike some of the more beastly inhabitants of the Otherworld, would have considered grappling with an opponent –– even in the desperate moments at the end of a fight –– as beneath them. But not this one. The only thing that was beneath him, in that moment, was Sonny. The Fae pinned him to the ground with the knee of his uninjured leg and, rearing back with a short dagger clawed from a sheath at his belt, made to slash the Janus’s throat open.

In the last instant, Sonny raised his left arm in a block –– hand open and fingers spread wide –– and braced for the flash of pain as the knife sliced a long, deep gash in his palm. Blood splashed crimson on the Faerie hunter’s surprised face, blinding him momentarily and causing him to drop the knife. Without even trying to dislodge the Wild Hunter, Sonny reached out his bleeding hand and grasped the black talisman shaped like a stag’s head that hung, glittering, from a silken cord around the Faerie’s throat.”

In Darklight, Lesley Livingston once again places her readers in a world where fantasy and reality are difficult to distinguish from one another. Kelley’s acting career in New York City seems to be taking off, and she is rehearsing as Juliet for an upcoming production. She knows, however, that despite her human childhood, she is actually Faerie royalty and thus is always involved –– willingly or otherwise –– with events in the Faerie realm. Kelley’s love, Sonny, has been forced back to the Faerie Otherworld where Auberon the King of Winter has assigned him to destroy the Wild Hunt using blood magick and even his own blood, if necessary. Kelley and Sonny are reunited in the Faerie Realm but this doesn’t last for long. Various faerie personalities continue their eternal struggle for domination, and this involves all manner of trickery, deception and magick. The two lovers become unwitting and unwilling pawns in this game of intrigue which may eventually allow them to come together or may result in their final and everlasting separation.

     Darklight manufactures many twists and turns and resembles the faerie version of an ongoing soap opera, with characters who are in many ways ‘over the top’ and larger than life. Because no one knows who is honest and who is deceptive, trust of any kind is impossible. There are continuous emotional ups and downs, battles of will and actual physical battles scattered liberally throughout the novel. Love and romance are powerful motivators, but so are hatred and revenge. Characters may seem friendly and positive on the surface but turn out to be entirely the opposite as the plot unfolds. The setting of New York City is limited to well-known areas such as Central Park but otherwise has little or no importance. Any large urban area with a theatre community would be equally appropriate. And, of course, the faerie realm is whatever one imagines it to be, and Livingston’s descriptions are vivid, giving readers a real sense of entering an imaginary Otherworld.

     This is the second volume of Livingston’s urban fantasy romance trilogy. While it stands on its own, readers would benefit from taking in the opening volume first in order to better understand the characters and the links, both human and faerie, between them. As in any middle book, many questions are left unresolved, some as fundamental as the real identity of Sonny, one of the main characters. Fans of the trilogy will be impatient for the publication of part three in order to have their questions answered.

     On the surface, it would seem that the appeal of this book is limited. The faerie realm, the strong emphasis on romance and jealousy, even the novel's cover, all target a female young adult audience. However, since a quick internet search reveals dozens of websites about faeries, the book’s readership may extend beyond these somewhat narrow expectations.


Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and former teacher of high school English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.

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