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Innocent Darkness (The Aether Chronicles) Paperback – August 8, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Lazear handily marries steampunk and fairy elements in this satisfyingly complex adventure that features a strong female protagonist (human) and a credible fantasy world. In California in the first decade of the twentieth century, 16-year-old Noli faces a variety of difficulties that range from her placement in a nineteenth-century-style delinquent-girls’ institution (complete with period behavior-modification “treatments”) to a duplicitous fae suitor and the revelation that her best childhood friend is himself the son of an ambitious fairy queen. The tale unfolds mostly as Noli experiences it, with occasional peeks at some of the other central cast members when they are out of Noli’s presence. Although this is the first in a planned series, it comes to a solid closing in which some of Noli’s deepest longings—for home and for her true friends—are met. As with Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, this new series offers romance and adventure in equal balance, along with an engaging world. Grades 8-10. --Francisca Goldsmith

About the Author

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series for young adult. In addition to writing for teens, Lazear gives presentations on the steampunk subgenre at conferences nationwide—resplendently attired in all the bustles and whistles. She is a regular contributor to the steampunk-themed blog, Steamed!, and is an active member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the young adult debut author groups the Apocalypsies and the Class of 2k12. Lazear has her master's degree in public policy from Pepperdine University. She lives with her family in Los Angeles.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Series: The Aether Chronicles (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Flux (August 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738732486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738732480
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #926,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nikki Wang on September 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Innocent Darkness takes place in an alternate 20th century LA where there are flying airships and where air pirates roam the skies. Almost nothing is the same, but there were still "society girls" who were expected to be, well...boring! Our main character is, of course, incredibly rebellious and has completely no interest in becoming a brainless zombie, preferring to be mechanic and fix up old cars/hoverboards. But something goes wrong when she test-drives a pixy she's been fixing up and crashes with her best friend, V, who went along for the ride.
This is the first in a chain of events that somehow lands her in a boarding school where things are dreary to say the least. Water rooms, cruel punishments, little food, and no contact with the outside world, Noli is desperate to get out and finally snaps when her only friend, Charlotte, is taken away. On Midsummer's Eve, she makes a wish that changed her life. This is where Noli is fully introduced to Kenign, the notorious hunter who has been searching for a girl with the "spark" for years to sacrifice to the Otherworld so that he and his people can live, if only for 7 more years.
But the magic won't take hold of her for some reason and meanwhile V is searching for her high and low for his best friend because he knows something is wrong. After all, V isn't who he seems either.

Innocent Darkness was more innocent than dark for sure, which I definitely enjoyed. I love my share of dark books, but something a less heavier was a relief. Not that it's completely light. But I loved the steampunk elements that were thrown in along with the faery aspects! It's incredibly contradicting actually, but I loved the way Suzanne Lazear wrote it!

Pacing. I actually loved the pacing in Innocent Darkness a lot!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gretchen @ My Life is a Notebook on August 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Despite having awesome amazing steampunk trappings at the beginning, fans of straight steampunk might find themselves a little upset with this book. Since I personally didn't request this book just because of the steampunk factor and I enjoy reading about fairies this didn't bother me, but I can only imagine steampunk fans not being warned of this. So, yeah, you've been warned.

Noli is my kind of girl. She makes fun of simpering, vain girls and prefers fixing machines and hoverboarding. The time she spends at the abusive boarding school is written fantastically, and it sent chills up my spine while making me ill. (Not graphic anything, mind you. Just the idea that they would do these things to these girls.) That entire first section is the entire reason this gets three stars. It made me excited for what was to come and allowed me to fall in love with Noli.

Unfortunately, the second half of the book wasn't as great.

To be fair, I loved the setting. I loved the plot. I loved the description and the little wood fairies. But the characters began to grind against me. Noli, for example, begins to lose her independence a little bit. She spends a lot of the second half crying and running away. Granted, freaking everybody DID lie to her and she does do some spectacular slapping-of-faces, but she spends so much time crying and simpering and it really began to grate on my nerves.

The "mysterious man" from the blurb is a Fae named Kevighn. He's the queen's huntsman, tasked with finding a girl full of "Spark" to sacrifice so the Otherworld, magic and the Fae can continue to exist. He does this by seduction, usually. However, Noli is just different from the other girls and he finds himself falling in love with her. Because she ... gardens?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dani on August 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
How does the saying go? "Good Steampunk is hard to find?"

Ok. So maybe that's not precisely how it goes, but sadly, that fact doesn't make the statement any less true.

I'll admit, Innocent Darkness first caught my eye because of it's cover. Adorned with gears, a dirigible, the obligatory corset/pocket watch/brass-'n-leather goggles combo, and a rebellious looking heroine ready to flout Victorian-era conventions, this cover said to me, "Hi there. I'm steampunk. Grab a cuppa and read me."

And I said, "Thank the Aether." It's been a while since I read an excellent book of the steampunk variety.

Sadly, I shouldn't have pinned my hopes on this one. Typically, I don't even mention covers in my reviews, but for this book I felt compelled to say something about it simply because I think the cover is misleading. Innocent Darkness is barely, barely Steampunk. Instead it's more a story of faerie, which is fine. However, in my opinion, this book shouldn't be visually marketed so heavily as a genre it barely touches on. Besides the altered historical time line (which the reader scarcely sees evidence of), a flying car that introduces our heroine, and several mentions of aether, airships and mechanical doodads, the Steampunk element is pretty superfluous. At least in this first book. Who knows? It could become an integral part of the world and story in subsequent novels... just not in this one.

The heroine, Magnolia, or "Noli," is advertised as a "hoyden." From the saucy vibe of the girl on the cover and from the blurb, I was really hoping for a sassy, kick-butt, strong female lead who's struggling to find her place in a restrictive Victorian society. Unfortunately, the cover misled again.
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