Author: Sable Grace
Publisher: Avon/Harper Collins
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Rating: 3.25 Stars
Read an Excerpt
There’s a lot going on in Ascension, the first book in the debut Dark Breed series by writing duo Heather Waters and Laura Barone so much so, that it could be a challenge keeping it all straight. But while the genre-pushing first novel which blends both paranormal and mythology has great bones, it fails to live up to its potential.
Ascension takes off at breakneck speed at a critical point in time. The world has fallen into chaos when the gates of Tartarus are opened, and countless Dark Breeds (Lychens, Leeches, Shyfters, Demons) roam, maim, and wreak general havoc on the world. The last line of defense is the Order of the Ancients who are fending off the masses and protecting humanity as best as they can. For all intents and purposes it’s Game Over in a big way.
The first objective of the Order and its tracers is to save those humans who have been marked as Chosen-those destined to replace the most critical of the supernatural hierarchy. Without the Chosen to replace certain gods and goddess, rule could cease to exist, and anarchy, even chaos would ensue. The world has already gone to hell-in-a-hand-basket but without the gods…well…annihilation. The second is to find the key to Tartarus, lock the gates, and “deal” with the conspirators who brought apocalypse to the world.
Ascension’s heroine Kyana bears the brunt of both worlds being a former Dark Breed who was recruited into the Order for her unusual talents. As the last of her kind, Kyana has an advantage over the other Order soldiers…she is faster, more ruthless, and she possesses the dual strength of both Lychen and Vampyre biology within her. But those very traits color her personality as well and as she favors her colder Vampyre side, the chasm of human understanding is an even larger obstacle for her to overcome.
While Waters and Barone have essentially met the prerequisites of crafting Kyana as the quintessential paranormal heroine she appears to be an empty shell, missing the internal substance crucial for a reader to bond with her. Her background is glossed over in such a way, that it almost seems an afterthought. There are interesting glimpses of her though…her early years spent as an abused young wife to a Sultan, and her eventual transformation by her sire, and her longing for Ryker which transforms from a roll in the hay to something more substantial. But it’s simply not enough.
With the reader unable to experience who Kyana really is through her eyes-to know who she is as a character, then there is no opportunity for the reader to relate to her, to bond with her, or any other element of the story. It is that critical chemistry that makes it all come together, that makes a story memorable-and it is lacking here.
What the Sable Grace duo does do well is maintain a balance between both Ryker and Kyana and their growing relationship as they journey from Above to Below to hunt down the key to Tartarus. As his yang to her yin, Ryker possesses an almost austere presence in the face of Kyana’s deficits. You get a real feel for his character, his caution, his premeditation, and his patience.
On the whole, Ascension is fertile ground, has an interesting premise, but doesn’t fulfill expectations. By the last quarter of the book, more substance has been woven in, and there is a real connection that develops between the characters that hadn’t manifested early on: Kyana’s love for her best friend Haven forces her to make some do or die choices. And Ryker strikes a deal with his father, Ares to wrest an easy death for Kyana when she violates one of the Orders most sacred covenants. Artemis shows some benevolence. And last but not least, Waters and Barone prove they have a few tricks up their sleeves as well…especially with the surprise on the last page which is a great lead in to the next book.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)