⇧ switch to KingsRiverLife.com for the full issue ⇧
Check out details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this review & interview.
Keri Arthur’s Darkness Devours is her third Dark Angels novel (Darkness Unbound, Darkness Rising), and the urban fantasy series is an offshoot of the Riley Jenson Guardian series, so it is easy for somebody wandering into this book to be confused and mystified without some background reading. Nevertheless, intrepid readers will find themselves in for a lively ride between the realms of the living and the dead.
Risa Jones doesn’t fear the Reaper—she can see the beings who gather the souls of the dead, and she has feelings for one of them. She can even travel the grey lands between this world and the next, and talk to the dead. She’s part-werewolf and part Aedh (winged, spiritual entities, sort-of like angels), her mother was cloned in a lab…and you thought your ancestors were unusual!
Risa has two problems to solve. Her ongoing quest is to find the hidden keys to the gates of Heaven and Hell. One group wants them to open the depths and let loose demons and other nasty things. Another faction wants to lock them all, but no souls could be reborn and children would be soulless clumps of flesh…a lot like teenagers.
Because she had formed an alliance with a powerful vampire leader, Risa is called in to solve a series of murders: vampires who have been torn apart. The clues lead through a club where humans who get off on being bitten feed vampires who get off on feeding from humans who get off on being bitten. She gets help from a werewolf newspaperman/former lover who once betrayed her, a de-winged Aedh who may be playing the other side of the key-finding, and a Reaper who is shadowing her closely…very closely.
There is violence and sex…and sexual violence. Keri Arthur’s Australian background gives her a confidence in describing Melbourne, her home town, but most of it sounds like any major city; of course, that's the way the world has become, hasn't it?
Darkness Devours has quite an appetite. It will gobble up your sleep time until you finish it. Then you can wait until November and the next installment of Risa’s saga, Darkness Hunts. I’ll be waiting.
Interview With Keri Arthur:
Terrance: When you started writing at the age of 12, you would re-write the books you read, changing the endings. What would you like to re-write today?
Keri: Actually, these days I'm more likely to want to rewrite the end of movies than books. I mean, take one of the biggest grossing movies out there in recent times—Titanic. Surely I couldn't have been the only one more than a little annoyed that Rose just let Jack freeze to death? Did you see the size of that door she was floating on—they both could have gotten on there! Totally spoiled the movie for me, that did—and I would totally have rewritten it, given half a chance. But then, I'm a romantic, and I wanted them to beat the odds and be together in life, not death.
Terrance: Your hero-women are not rescue-me types. They are more likely to strike first and inflict as much damage as possible, instead of cowering in a corner...even if cowering would be a good idea. Are there people you have modeled them on, or do they reflect the you that you would like to be?
Keri: It's actually a reflection of all the fantasy I used to read as a teenager—fantasy in which the female characters always needed rescuing. You have no idea how much that annoyed me! When I was a teenager, we had a fire in the garage, and I was the one grabbing the hose to help douse the flames, so I wasn't exactly a stand back and watch sort, even then. Although I'd like to think I'm a whole lot more sensible than many of my characters!
Terrance: You are a Melbourne native, and your website includes a clever glossary of Australian slang, yet I didn't have any problem with reading your work. Are language changes made for US editions, or are the cultural differences not as great as we imagine?
Keri: Although I don't think the cultural differences are all that great, there's actually quite of bit of the Aussie slang taken out of the novels. I try to keep some things 'Americanized' when I'm writing, because America is my largest market, but little things that are everyday terminology here—like milk bar (sort of like a seven-eleven), chemist (drug store), bench (counter), rubbish (trash)--slip through. Of course, there are certain terms I fight to keep, because we just don't use the U.S version here and it is supposed to be set in Australia (although I can't think of any examples off-hand).
Terrance: You have worked as a cook for a number of years. What carry-over from that field is there into your writing?
Keri: In the Dark Angels series, the heroine, Risa, co-owns a restaurant with two of her friends, and much of that is based on personal experience. It's actually a horrible field to work in, thanks to the long hours, the heat in the kitchens, and the generally low pay rates, so I'm totally glad my writing enabled me to get out!
Terrance: What process led you to creations of the characteristics and abilities of the Reapers and the Aedh?
Keri: Some characteristics and abilities came from myth, and some from story necessity. There are many stories around of people being rescued by strangers who suddenly appear and just as mysteriously disappear, so to me it made sense that these 'angels' would be an energy based life form that could temporarily take on human appearance. The grim reaper appears in many myths as a guide for the deceased into the next world, but my hero was going to be one of them, so I wasn't about to make him the black-cloaked, scythe bearing, skeletal version often found in myths.
Of course, there's a heck of lot of myths about angels not only being soul guides, but guardians, as well, so I decided to throw those elements into my story, and mix them up a little. The Aedh became my traditional angels in look, but they were the keepers of the gates to heaven and hell, not the guides themselves. The reapers where the ones who not only guided souls to the gates, but who could temporarily take on human form to rescue chosen people.
Terrance: Tell us a little about your main characters and how they came to be?
Keri: Risa, the heroine in the Dark Angels series, first popped up in the Riley Jenson series. She was a baby Riley had to rescue and, to be honest, she wasn't supposed to make another appearance in the series. But you can never keep a good character down, and as Risa grew and developed in the Riley Jenson series, so too did my ideas for creating her own.
Azriel came about when I was driving to gym one day. I live in the foothills of the mountains, and I'm often driving through heavy mist. On this one particular morning, there was a light breeze eddying the fog, and really looked like there were ghostly people moving through it. And the phrase—I've always seen the reapers—just popped into my head. Azriel developed rather rapidly from there, and the phrase is, of course, the start of Darkness Unbound, the first of the Dark Angels series
Terrance: What is up next for this series?
Keri: Darkness Hunts is the next release, and let's just say things go from bad to worse for our heroes!
Terrance: What is one thing your readers would be surprised to learn about you?
Keri: I'm a Lifestyle Channel tragic, and will watch any and all property or home makeover shows—even if I've seen them all a hundred times before.
You can learn more about Keri on her website and follow her on Twitter @kezarthur.
To enter to win a copy of Darkness Devours, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Darkness”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 8, 2012. U.S. residents only.
Click here to purchase Darkness Devours from Mysterious Galaxy & you will be helping support an indie bookstore & Kings River Life: