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Review: Darkwalker by E.L. Tettensor

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Darkwalker
Author: E. L. Tettensor 
Reviewer: Gikany and Una
Rating: A

What We’re Talking About:

Darkwalker is the debut novel in the Nicholas Lenoir series.  It seems the series will chronicle Nicholas Lenoir, a detective in a dark, historical fantasy world.  We were wary at first, but we found ourselves rooting for this anti-hero and really loved this first offering that left us hungry for more!

Gikany and Una have a habit of diving into a book without much research (unless you count reading the book’s back blurb).  As we started Darkwalker, it started to dawn on us that not only is it historical, it is taking place in a fictional world.  Take Sherlock Holmes’s London, change the name and place it somewhere else, with another cultural group nearby that transects it, and take the dark, dreary factor way up.  This is where our story takes place…and it is mesmerizing.  We really enjoyed the landscapes that were created in our mind’s eye – the descriptions are rich and they greatly enhance the atmosphere of the novel.  The conflict and prejudice that exists between the “whites” and the Adali is compelling, reminiscent of those conflicts between Anglos and Africans as well as Anglos and Gypsies in our histories.  We found the tension between these two groups authentic, enriching the world and storytelling without any sign of preaching.  It truly added another element to the world-building, giving it a foundation as it alluded to our own historical pasts.

However the most compelling element in Darkwalker is most assuredly Nicholas Lenoir.  This is the author’s take on the five things you need to know about Lenoir (taken from a guest post linked on her website):

  1. He’s the smartest person in the room. In his mind, at least.
  2. He doesn’t believe in redemption—least of all for him.
  3. Wherever you come from, Lenoir’s hometown is better. You’re just going to have to trust him on this.
  4. Words are weapons, but silence is power.
  5. We all have our demons, but his are darker. And in the room. Right now.

We have read other novels where the main character is not well liked by others, but to the reader is captivating and enchanting.  That is not Lenoir.  As we started Darkwalker, we disliked him (we have some colorful pejoratives we could use, but we’re sure you get the gist).  In fact, we were so angry with him, we almost stopped reading.  But, this shows how well the author portrayed him. Lenoir is not supposed to be likable.  He is arrogance turned bitter, a brilliant mind poisoned by guilt and apathy.  Think an embittered and bored Sherlock Holmes so disillusioned with the world that he has turned into the shell of the man he was and now bored with the world, waits for his own death to visit him.  As the case thickens, Lenoir changes, although he will still NEVER be a candidate for Ms. Congeniality, nor anyone’s “bestie”, he is decidedly not evil but more a lone ranger who may have found his ethics or at least a mission.  The growth he undergoes during this case is stunning and gripping.

The mythology of the Darkwalker for whom the novel is named, was fascinating.  An avenger of the dead, he cannot be stopped and once your name is on his list – he will find you and you will pay.  We do not wish to give anything away, but this spirit born into flesh was enthralling.  The single minded focus and the legend that surrounds him are compelling and deep.  We are interested in knowing how Ms. Tettensor was able to create this creature and how about she researched it in order to give the rich history he seems to have.

To help lighten the world and our hero, his partner Kody is wonderful.  Not necessarily a Watson, but a much needed opposite to the darkness and bitterness of Lenoir.  Kody is young and still believes that his mission is to protect the innocent and bring justice – no matter the circumstances.  The contrast between the world-weary Lenoir and the fresh young idealistic Kody balances the novel.  In strange self-reflective moment, Lenoir thinks to himself as he remembers when he was like Kody as a young officer.  It was difficult for us to resolve the two images…but it helped to understand the apathy that has taken over Lenoir.  As in many societies, if you have enough money – you can and indeed do anything you wish.

Without giving anything away, Darkwalker is an outstanding debut novel of Ms. Tettensor.  It is a dark mystery taking place in alternate historical world.  Ironically enough, we were thoroughly captivated by Lenoir, the anti-hero and are anxious to see what is next in the Nicholas Lenoir series.

Rating:  A Loved It

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About the Book:

He used to be the best detective on the job. Until he became the hunted…

Once a legendary police inspector, Nicolas Lenoir is now a disillusioned and broken man who spends his days going through the motions and his evenings drinking away the nightmares of his past. Ten years ago, Lenoir barely escaped the grasp of the Darkwalker, a vengeful spirit who demands a terrible toll on those who have offended the dead. But the Darkwalker does not give up on his prey so easily, and Lenoir has always known his debt would come due one day.

When Lenoir is assigned to a disturbing new case, he treats the job with his usual apathy—until his best informant, a street savvy orphan, is kidnapped. Desperate to find his young friend before the worst befalls him, Lenoir will do anything catch the monster responsible for the crimes, even if it means walking willingly into the arms of his own doom…

Release Date: December 3, 2013
Publisher: Roc
Series: Nicolas Lenoir #1
ISBN: #978-0451419989
Genre: Mystery/Paranormal Historical Fantasy
Format(s): Paperback (368 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Publisher

Purchase Info:
Darkwalker (Nicolas Lenoir #1)

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