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Review: Darklands by Nancy Holzner

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Darklands
Author: Nancy Holzner 
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: ACE
Deadtown #4
ISBN: #978-1937007706
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/Author

About the book:

      Boston’s demons have been disappearing, and Vicky’s clients are canceling left and right. While fewer demons might seem like a good thing, Vicky suspects foul play. A missing Celtic cauldron from Harvard’s Peabody museum leads her to an unwelcome conclusion: Pryce, her demi-demon cousin and bitter enemy, is trying to regain his full powers.
      But Pryce isn’t alone. He’s conjured another, darker villain from Vicky’s past. To stop them from destroying everything she loves, she’ll have to face her own worst fear—in the realm of the dead itself.

What Im talking about:

      After the previous two Deadtown series books opened with our heroine Vicky working at her job as a demon slayer, it was a completely fun change of pace to witness Vicky participating in the zombie high school career event. Vicky is there to help her one-time apprentice, Tina, although she’d rather be out fighting evil. Things seem to go as planned until a vicious Harpy demon attempts to kill Vicky, and she must demonstrate her job first hand to the zombie teens. Such is the life of Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer. Oh, AND she may also be the subject of an ancient prophecy, she has a demi-demon cousin out to kill her, she’s summoned an Eidolon demon who is literally gnawing away her insides because of her own guilt, she’s dating a high-profile werewolf, and now she has to deal with another woman trying to horn in on her wolf, er… man.
      Darklands kicks off shortly after the conclusion of Bloodstone, but if you haven’t read the previous books, not to worry. Ms. Holzner does a fantastic job weaving critical pieces of earlier books into this story. We recall how Vicky is working to repair her relationship with her sister, Gwen, especially since her niece, Maria, is showing signs of being a shapeshifting Cerddorion. We are reminded of the past battles Vicky has fought with her “cousin” Pryce and the Hellion that marked her, Difethwr the Destroyer. And finally we recollect how Vicky’s Aunt Mab and boyfriend Kane have fought beside Vicky time and time again.
      One thing that I enjoy immensely about the Deadtown series is watching Vicky grow as an individual from the start to finish of each book, and how she builds upon the progress from book to book. In this story we go further into Vicky’s psyche via the Eidolon. Having Vicky infest herself with a demon was an interesting twist. While providing some comic relief, the primary purpose is to help Vicky work through all of the things she regrets/feels guilty about, etc.
      I delight in the continuing developing relationship dynamic between Vicky, Gwen and Maria. Ms. Holzner gives the reader both “normal” family drama and interactions – adolescent girl vs. mother, etc., but then add in a shapeshifting teen, when her mother has personally closed the door to that life… It makes for intense side plots. It is wonderful to be privy to Vicky’s thought process of how she balances helping Maria but not overstepping her role as mentor and Aunt.
      Another area of personal growth that is front and center in Darklands is within her relationship with Kane. When another wolf, Simone, makes an obvious play for Kane, Vicky must deal with a wide array of emotions that she did not know were in her. Once again, knowing her inner-most thoughts on this matter were entertaining and enlightening, ranging from both heart-warming to heart-breaking. I was seriously worried for the entire book that Vicky would lose her chance to figure out her feelings before it was all too late.
      Darklands continues the story of Vicky vs. Pryce. Vicky discovers that Pryce is attempting to recreate his shadow demon by smuggling captured demons into the Darklands – the “afterlife” plane where souls move on, wait to be reborn in a new life, or are regenerated and continue to stay in the Darklands. Once again, Vicky strikes out on her own, feeling the weight of saving the world rests solely on her shoulders. She makes a deal with the Mistress of the Hunt to enter the Darklands so she may begin her quest to defeat Pryce. Fortunately, Vicky finds help from her long-dead father, Evan. Together the two not only go on a danger-filled journey, but they take the time to clear the air and reconnect. Again, a superb balance of action and emotion.
      As I mentioned earlier, I was really worried about Vicky for, well, most of the book. I had a knot in my belly, wondering if things would work out, because for a while nothing was going right for Vicky. NOTHING! It felt like no one cared much, but that’s because we are in “Vicky’s head” via her POV.  I was so mad at her for not letting others help her, but she always does what she thinks is best for others – a quality that can be extremely aggravating at times. It made for a gripping (and rewarding) read, one that I want to read again.
      Darklands is another solid and wonderful story from Ms. Holzner. Her stories are fierce and exciting, full of spirit and emotion. The stories feel familiar, but the mythology is unique. Ms. Holzner’s world is engrossing and engaging. It’s not easy, but she always finds a way to pull together all of the pieces of the story by the end of each book. In the end, Vicky must take a long hard look at what is in her heart and decide what is worth fighting for. I love it!

My Rating:

 
Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)
 

Purchase Info:
Darklands (Book 4)

Reviews in the Series:
Deadtown (Book 1)
Hellforged (Book 2) 
Bloodstone (Book 3) 
  • http://lostinsidethecovers.wordpress.com/ lostinsidethecovers

    I have been loving the first two books and am so happy this one is stellar as well! Great review. :)

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