The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan, book 1) by Kelly Gay
Divorced mother of one, Charlie Madigan, lives in a world where the beings of heaven and hell exist among us, and they aren't the things of Sunday school lessons and Hallmark figurines. In the years since the Revelation, they've become our co-workers, neighbors, and fellow citizens.
Charlie works for ITF (Integration Task Force). It's her job to see that the continued integration of our new "friends" goes smoothly and everyone obeys the law, but when a new off-world drug is released in Underground Atlanta, her daughter is targeted, and her ex-husband makes a fateful bargain to win her back, there's nothing in heaven or earth (or hell for that matter) that Charlie won't do to set things right.
The Better Part of Darkness was huge talk around the book sphere last year when it made it's debut. When its sequel, The Darkest Edge of Dawn, came out this year even more praise started to pour in. Clearly it was a no brainer to finally read my copy of The Better Part of Darkness. Let's say I am not disappointed, I'm practically whispering sweet nothings to this book.
Dark gritty, with one heck of a kick booty heroine, what's not to love. Sure I'll confess I had some doubts about my kick-booty heroine being a single, divorced, mother. Those factors usually turn me off immediately, especially when combined. Gay pulls it of smoothly, creating such an emotional connection between me and Charlie. I don't have kids, nor am I married or have been married. So riding along with Charlie was like going into the Twilight Zone. The love between Charlie and her kid is simply beautiful. When Charlie's life is spinning off into Danger Land I felt even more concerned for what was happening.
The ex-husband was another mind blowing part of this book for me. When reading it always seems like the ex is either a cheating jerk, dead (not quite an ex then), stupid, or simply wanted to be with someone who wasn't so kick-booty awesome. That's it, we hate the husband let's have few mouthy scenes and move on. The relationship between Charlie and her ex, blew me away. Sure the guy cheated, but the circumstances left a lot up in the air. Charlie still loved him, and ex was just too likable not to love. Even though I hate cheaters (that's putting it way too mild) I found my self cheering him on occasionally. So when events unfold I was on a roller coaster ride of tears, hope, and determination.
Charlie herself is a really great character. She's so real I want her to be my awesome friend. The kind that would hurt (if not kill) the people you hurt you. Charlie balances her life as a cop who deals with nasty other world creatures and her family life really well. So you get nice mushy emotions and hard butt police woman in one. The character growth in this book is also another treat, after all who could possibly think that a in control super mommy like her would need it?
Hank is a siren whose voice isn't the only thing seductive about him. He balances Charlie out as her partner in crime, mouthing off along with her. Personally I would have loved more page time with him, he's impossible to ignore. Hank reminds me of the strong, brave, gentleman that every women is looking for.
Other characters here are well worth investing in. Especially a relationship between Charlie's flower power sister (emphasis on powers) and a yummy Mage. I half breed Jinn, she was fierce but clearly vulnerable. Jinn are creatures from a different plan, kind of like hell, they're a warrior breed with a serious self worship issue. Let's just say that halfbreeds are not safe things to be.
The world Gay has created has me jumping up in down in glee. Earth is trying to balance out the discovery of two other worlds that creatures from legend live, and have been coming to earth throughout history. Elysia heaven-like where nicer monsters live and hell-like Charbydon where the eviler and darker monsters reside. Besides Sirens, Jinns, and Mages there are even more supernatural creatures happening. Hellhounds, angelic-like Adoni, Goblins, Revenants (read to find out), and so much more. This is a world that is every Urban Fantasy readers wet dream.
One thing that really stopped me from jumping on The Better Part of Darkness train, is that there are some complaints that it is slow. Personally I thought that the action was coming in a rush, the mysteries of Charlie's dark new life after she died and came back were perfectly paced. Gay gives the reader enough time to get a hold on all the characters and get a connection with the world that most authors glaze over.
This is a hard core entry into the Urban Fantasy genre. If you have doubts about reading a book about a single mom with an ex, don't worry this is good stuff. The Better Part of Darkness is sweeping away readers with a edgy world, featuring fantastic creatures and characters. This alternate supernatural Atlanta is definitely going to be one of my new favorite Urban Fantasy places to visit. There's a lot I'm not going over in this review, all of it good, put this one at the top of your TBR pile.
Some serious sexual tension. (Whew, hot!)
5/5- Fabulous, a beautiful obsession.