The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz

I received this book free from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. It is available May 27th.

Here’s the description:

Paige Kelly is used to weird—in fact, she probably corners the market on weird, considering that her best friend, Dottie, has been dead since the 1950s. But when a fire demon attacks Paige in detention, she has to admit that things have gotten out of her league. Luckily, the cute new boy in school, Logan Bradley, is a practiced demon slayer—and he isn’t fazed by Paige’s propensity to chat with the dead. Suddenly, Paige is smack in the middle of a centuries-old battle between warlocks and demons, learning to fight with a magic sword so that she can defend herself. And if she makes one wrong move, she’ll be pulled into the Dark World, an alternate version of our world that’s overrun by demons—and she might never make it home.

Here’s my review:

What I’d Pay: $8

This book was based on a great idea, but there were some major issues with the execution. I really wanted to like it – I mean look at that cover and awesome description! But it just missed the mark for me. I have tried to avoid spoilers in this review, but there may be a few minor ones, so if you want to avoid that skip to the bottomline.

Let’s start with what I didn’t like about the book, and then end on a positive note with I did like. First of all, this was a free, pre-publication copy, so much of the technical difficulties I had while reading (i.e. lack of chapters and weird spacing issues) will be resolved in the future. My major issues with the book came from the rough beginning, the strange pacing, and the lack of the Dark World itself. The beginning was very difficult to follow and just abrupt. The main character is very matter of fact about her past and present, and while I appreciated the information, I would have rather gleaned more of it from contextual clues in the opening scenes rather than being lectured to by the main character. Instead of being an interesting opening that really sucked me in and made me want to read more to figure out what was going on, it came across disjointed and boring.  The rest of the book did not have that problem. My second major issue was with the pacing. After the awkward beginning, there are demon attacks and the plot really picks up and gets going. There are more exciting fights, lots of suspense, good characters development, and then everything comes to a screeching halt. I was awaiting another imminent demon attack and instead the main demon villain disappears for no apparent reason other than to let the main characters have a short demon-free, lovey-dovey period of time.  At this point, if I hadn’t gotten this book for free to review, I would’ve set it down and probably not finished it. It was an unnecessary lull in the action that felt like a natural end to the story. The last of my major issues was with the Dark World itself. While we hear some description of the Dark World in the book, you don’t get to actually see it until the very end. And this book is entitled The Dark World. If the book was non-stop action and then we only just manage to get a glimpse of the dark world at the end, then that’s acceptable.  But since that wasn’t the case and there was in fact a huge break in the action, it felt like an obvious ploy to make me pick up the second book just to see this dark world. Honestly, I felt a bit cheated by that. Finally, I had two minor character gripes. The warlock uncle was supposed to be a scary, intimidating, powerful guy, but I didn’t get that at all. He mostly just comes across as grumpy, so his scary factor definitely needs to be cranked up. Secondly, the attempts to make the demonslayer seem shy and awkward were a bit overdone. I appreciate that he is supposedly only confident while using his demon-fighting skills, but some of the interactions early on were just painful to read.

I did like that the main character was plucky and stood up for herself. She had attitude and didn’t let other’s comments and bullying get to her, something that’s really admirable. She also stands up for others and is brave enough to jump into her first demon fight before she even really knows what’s happening. Her remorse for getting others injured and her interactions with her parents all make her really likable. And I really loved her actions in the end scene, very brave. the twist with one of the main characters was definitely a big, and very creative, surprise. I even liked the interaction between the two main characters; at first it was very awkward, but by the end of the book it was more believable. The action was great and the fight scenes were exciting.

Bottomline: Ultimately, I liked the idea and this wasn’t a bad read, but a lot of elements really needed to be altered to amp up the impact of this book. An awkward beginning, uneven pacing, and lack of the actual title location, The Dark World, ultimately made this a miss for me.  However, the strong female lead and interesting story ideas were really enjoyable to read, so for some it might be a really fun and exciting start to a great new series. If you’re a fan of romance, demons, magic, and action, then this one is for you, but if you’re not prepared to face some lulls in the action or awkward dialogue for the sake of the romance, then this might not be your style.


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