Book: A Brush of Darkness
Author: Allison Pang
Publisher: Pocket Books
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Read an Excerpt
Like a would-be maestro with an orchestra at the ready or an artist with a palette in hand, Allison Pang takes the saturated genre of faery lore and constructs her world in A Brush of Darkness into a uniquely surreal thing of beauty, blurring the edges of the existing template by dabbling in the abstract and softening the focus a bit. Borrowing a piece of history from the ancient medieval tale of Thomas the Rhymer, Pang injects a bit of his tale as part of the construct of her debut.
Faery, the Dark Path, Dreamland and even the Shadow Realm as they exist, are traversed through the CrossRoads or Doorways by all manner of magical beings. The one caveat to the OtherFolk is that they can only travel at certain times of the day and in order to do so, must be anchored by a TouchStone, a being who dwells in the human sphere. This symbiotic relationship enables both sides to get something from the other…in many cases a human can trade seven years of contractual servitude for eternal beauty, or life…a wish… whatever it may be.
Therein lies the focus of Pangs’ story about Abby Sinclair a former company principal ballet dancer whose life has been irrevocably changed by a deadly car accident. What is left of her, is subject to seizures, a plate in her head and a leg that effectively ended her dancing career. Contracting with the Faery Protectorate, Moira, Abby is to serve her for the full seven years and not leave Portsmyth. But when Moira disappears mysteriously, as do a few succubi, Abby is left with a huge responsibility-the order of the realms and its beings rely on the Protectorate to keep order. And when Brystion a Dark Path being and incubus waltzes into her bookstore, chaos is the least of her worries.
A Brush of Darkness might have a newbie feel to it at times with the investigation into the disappearances slow to evolve, but overall Pang’s storytelling is competent and a rich treat to read. She manages to deliver a complex world populated by vivid characters, insert some great pop culture references that had me laughing, and still weave a touching romance throughout its pages.
In fact, the hot and cold romance between Ion and Abby is at the forefront of A Brush of Darkness. Their relationship plays a large part in Abby identifying who she is by accepting her Dreamwalker legacy and facing her fears. Without Brystion to finally cop to his feelings, and begin her training, Abby would not have the meager tools at her disposal to fight against Maurice and Topher.
Pang also excels at tongue in cheek humor…The World of Warcraft scene between Abby and TartBarbie had me rolling on the floor, as did the on-going commentary from Phin…what else can you expect from a horny unicorn? And by far my favorites were the scenes where Maurice has imprisoned Abby and the others in the Shadow Realm, particularly within the enchanted paintings was a creative feat full of surreal imagery with Abby as a mermaid.
Pang ends her debut on an ambivalent note with a few unresolved issues. Thankfully a teaser at the end of the book has been inserted do we don’t go crazy wondering what will happen: Moira has been summoned to Court, and has left an important responsibility in Abby’s care, and Brystion…well they are at a stalemate so-to-speak. Sonja has taken over Abby’s Dreamwalker training, with Brystion somewhat out of the picture. And I’m betting that Pang has some key plot points in sight regarding Abby’s KeyStone status. Pang definitely hints at adventures ahead.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)