The Darkest Night (Lords of the Underworld, 1) Mass Market Paperback – December 29, 2009
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About the Author
- Publisher : HQN; Reissue edition (December 29, 2009)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0373775229
- ISBN-13 : 978-0373775224
- Item Weight : 6.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.22 x 0.99 x 6.61 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #75,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Have you ever read a book that made you go >:[
I was pretty excited to find this series-- interesting premise, interesting world, highly rated... what I got were two individuals who could barely speak in full sentences while in each others' presences. The female lead, Ashlyn, is a wounded virgin dove whose lines consisted primarily of "M-Maddox?" and 'Ashlyn whimpered'. Maddox's most outstanding quality is the super hot giant butterfly tattoo across his back (really...?) and he generally came out in my head sounding like a cross between Captain Kirk (oh no, not the Chris Pine interpretation. We're talking Bill Shatner) and our stereotypical cartoon idea of a caveman (or Tarzan. Whatever.).
It's hard to get into the action or the "action" (if you know what I mean) when you can barely stand the characters. Ashlyn is a woman with a curse of a gift who hears conversations going back as far as man could speak that took place in whatever location she's standing. This seems to make her an incoherent mess. Which would make sense, since I can see it being distressing to never be able to hear yourself think, but as the story progresses, you find she's certainly been coherent enough to read lots of romance novels and buy fetish costumes and fantasize about being cuddled in them. Once she finds Maddox, the voices shut up, and so she belligerently latches onto him like a barnacle and he ends up dragging her home. His friends are pissed, he's pissed, the voice in his head, who you'd think would be featured more prominently, rants and makes lewd suggestions that sometimes include stabbing. So he talks with the voice in his head about how hard he's going to bang her, and then other times, about how much he loves just talking with her. "Talking". More like grunting single syllabic words while she whines. And then he decides she's the love of his life. She sort of does the same thing, but waffles between wanting to snuggle/jump him, and suddenly being overcome with extreme distrust for the man she insisted on following home and staying with, while offering zero explanation for her behavior. And everybody's got some kind of a middle school idea of "flirting" and they all have inferiority complexes. "Why are you following me?" "I like you." "No, you don't." "But I like you?" "You could never like me. Nobody could ever like me." [lots of thinking about how other character said they like them, but must be lying and it can't be true].
Story wise, there's no real reason why (a common theme), in the middle of Budapest, the one batshit crazy American chick stumbling around in the backyard is suddenly "the one" after x thousand years. Maybe it's because she's attached herself to him like a growth. The voice in Maddox's head eventually flips a switch and starts liking her. The story kind of gets fuzzy after that. Reading was starting to feel like a punishment so I started skimming.
The "talking" scenes have a lot of Caveman Kirk grunting out semi sentences and demands. Eventually you forget what the hell they were talking about, since following any question, there are about 3 pages of purple prose introspection. Then Ashlyn contemplates the shamefulness of sex, but gosh darnit, really wanting that cuddle, so propriety be darned, she's going to go for it. Whenever it is she stops talking to herself about her virginity.
So I tried reading The Darkest Fire to check my sarcasm. Unfortunately, it sounded like mostly the same story, even up to [SPOILER] the ending where the chick repeats about 5 times, while staring soulfully into her mate's eyes, "I love you". While being disemboweled/cut in half.
Overall, I wanted to light myself on fire by the end of the book (or like, 25% of the way in.). The characters were 2 dimensional, the story and dialogue (dialogue? What dialogue?) were lazy, there was zero chemistry between any of the characters (even though all these guys have been living in the same house for the last x thousand years. And yes, like siblings, sometimes you want to kill each other, but you still have deep human relationships with them.). The hot scenes were mediocre at best (tepid like day old coffee). And the heroine made me roll my eyes with how ridiculous she was. I'm absolutely in the minority, so take my word for what you will! But if you need some basic plot integrity (or logic) to suspend disbelief (or a heroine with a freaking spine), maybe keep looking.
Based on the premise of this series, I was really looking forward to diving right in and getting started with this first entry. Unfortunately, the delivery doesn't in any way live up to the expectations I had.
We are introduced to all five of the lords of the underworld. They all, of course, have major issues. None of them have mates, yet they have existed for thousands of years. So, I get that an immortal creature's one true soul mate might take quite a while to finally come into his life, but it does seem a bit far-fetched that ALL five of them are in this predicament. Anyhoo, they all live together in a gothic-themed castle in Budapest. What purpose they actually serve is a bit unclear, but each of the lords was cursed with a demon that lives inside them. In this book, the H is Maddox and his demon is Violence.
Maddox, while certainly hot enough, was difficult to get to know. Ashlyn, the h and his destined mate, was freaking annoying beyond words. She was an American who works for a paranormal studies institute and was in Budapest with a group of her coworkers. She hears about the demons/angels that live in the castle on top of a mountain and just decides, hey, why don't I trek up there one day to see if they can help get the voices out of my head? Yeah. Ashlyn hears voices of departed souls as well as living people who have been in the areas that she visits. Everywhere she goes, the girl hears voices of people who were there before her.
Miraculously, as soon as Ashlyn meets Maddox out in the woods near the castle, the voices go away. This causes her to latch onto Maddox like a flipping leech. She chases after him, refusing to go away (annoying) and he, for some reason, feels drawn to her. Why, I have absolutely no idea. Their whole relationship just didn't click for me. I didn't buy into it at all.
The writing in this book really irritated me. Scene after scene, we get these long, drawn out conversations that never go anywhere. For example, Maddox would ask Ashlyn something simple (like, what's your name) and there would be two or three paragraphs of narrative between his simple question and her (finally) giving some lame response. She would stand around in a stupor rhapsodizing about one inane thing or another before answering a simple question. It drove me bananas.
By the time I got to about the 25% point, I felt a migraine coming on and I just had to stop. Why torture myself? I read fiction for an enjoyable escape from the realities of life, not to be irritated, annoyed, and generally miserable. I will definitely not be venturing further into this series.
Now, I need some Advil and a hot stone massage.
There was no suspense and that to me is a telltale sign that I’ll be hanging the series up. Make no mistake, there was character development - although I must say it was placed after many of the heady convictions which made me pause. Showalter was not daft in her writing: she made it clear that this is an instant-love type of story, the feelings evoked are massive, dizzying and quite frankly unbelievable! But that’s the story she wanted to tell and I appreciate that. If you like flowery romances with a hint of mystery, spiced with some imaginative concepts, then this series is for you.
Top reviews from other countries
It all starts when Ashlyn travels to Hungary on business and she hears about the fortress on a hill housing angels. You see, Ashlyn hears conversations. Yeah, good for her.. but, no. She goes to a place and she can hear every conversation that has taken place in that very spot (be it room, street, etc) that has taken place there. Gift or a curse? Anyway, it’s those voices Ashlyn hears that in majority label the lords in the fortress as angels as they have done a lot of good for the town. However, some don’t agree. Some call them demons. And in a way, they’re right- that’s the “darkness within” bit.
Ashlyn has tried to find a solution to her hearing abilities because it has messed up many things in her life- relationships, childhood, and you can only imagine the information overload she receives! However, her ability also landed her a job with an Institute that investigates and deals with the paranormal.
Now, she wants to meet those angels/demons to see if they can help her control her ability and enjoy a bit of the quiet life. What and who she meets though? She meets Maddox! ta-daa!
Maddox is a “warrior” from the times of Greek gods. His curse is to live in bloody ‘harmony’ with the Violence demon. Because of something he did. Something bad. To the whole world! Anyway, this curse sees him dying every.single.day (night). A death bloody and violent, and when he dies he also spends the night in Hell, burning. Until come morning and bingo-bango, he’s pretty much fresh as a daisy.
I found out so much about the backstory and characters themselves without it feeling like an obligatory “Hello, this is example 1 and he looks like zyx, and he does xyz”.. it was all just so bloody (pun!) seamless and nicely woven into the storyline, every snippet of need-to-know information delivered at just the right moments.
Even though our male characters have their own demons to fight (quite literally), they are not evil at their core. Oh! Did I mention they are immortal? Well, unless you get to chop their head off, but other than that- yep, totes immortal! And each of them with their unique curse to carry. I swear, this was so entertaining. Even though Ashlyn did piss me off at times because when she was asked a question she hardly ever answered! grrrr!
Anyway, to sum up- there’s a decent plot here. Once Ashlyn and Maddox meet, there’s a more at stake. People get hunted, kidnapped and flown on a warrior’s wings to fetch a purse with painkillers. Quite neat! Truly! Handsome (I expect to various levels to meet everyone’s taste) males and females and some paranormal shebang. There’s the cruelty and chasing and killing… but also kindness…good guys v bad guys v good guys who might not be good or bad… You get the gist… and then there’s the love!
This is as good a time as any to go back to the shebang… let’s address the bang part of it. There’s sex in this book, peeps. On-the-bed-sex, in-the-shower-sex and against-the-wall-sex. So, three instances of sex which is totally manageable and doesn’t overshadow the whole main idea of this book/series… I hope it stays this way throughout because, you know, exhausted and headaches!
All in all… I truly enjoyed this series. It fits the bill for me with plenty of action and drama, a bit of spine-tingling love and some pretty good dialogue which in places had me chuckling.
If you’re into the paranormal romance thing at all- don’t miss this. This one blows Twilight’s Edward&Bella jam out of the park, folks.
I found Ms Showalter's writing style very easy to read; she captivated my imagination with her world building, the complexity of her characters and the balance of violence, humour, passion and romance.
I knew that these demon possessed warriors were men I could get behind when they battled internally with the "evil"; fighting the urges, feeling guilt, regret and shame for their less than angelic actions.
But it wasn't just the alpha warriors that keep me hooked, the female characters are written with plenty of gumption and intelligence.
This book is cliffhanger free (woohoo!) regarding our romantic main couple, however the background story arc is definitely not over and we are left with a myriad of questions and mysteries to solve in the subsequent books as well as other demons to tame. ;-)
DNF at 41%.
I really tried because the writing was actually pretty good - the story telling left much to be desired. If there was a plot to this book, I couldn't find it. Characterisations were ugh; I literally hated every single character in the book. This whole macho 'me alpha male, you puny female sex machine,' and the insta!lust "mineminemine" mentality made me want to gag. The women tried so hard to be that 'strong female' character that we all love in books, but just came across as brain-dead idiots. I could feel my blood-pressure rising as I read.
Not my cup of tea.
Based in modern times it brings the story to a medieval castle in Budapest. Basically, it is an unusual romance between damned warrior Maddox, and Ashlyn a young woman with paranormal abilities who is being used unwittingly to find the warriors.
I liked the conflict, then the mistrust that alters to lust then love between the main characters, and the inbuilt demon of violence as an internal antagonist within the protagonist is an unusual concept.
I found myself becoming accustomed to the names of the first set of warriors introduced at the start of the story and their demon/punishments they are responsible for, as in death, lust etc. However, Gena, introduces a second set of new warriors two thirds of the way through the story and there were suddenly so many it became confusing for a while. I can imagine this being off putting for some readers.
Yes, I will read the next and maybe more as this seems to be turning into a quest series where each of the Warriors will have a story to tell, and maybe a romance. The romantic scenes are tastefully erotic. I hope that by the end of the next story I will be accustomed to the many characters.
The novel is generally well written, though a few typos, which shouldn't really be found in a book published by such a major company. Overall I give it four stars.