Review: Darkest Light by Alex Taylor

Friday, 1 May 2015

Series: Darkest Light #1
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Romance 
Release Date: January 16th 2015
Source: Copy from the author in exchange for an honest review
Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars
Cover Rating: 3/5 Stars
Synopsis: The weather is stormy, and the room is dark and cold. Michael dreams about a woman in the comfort of his bed, missing her warmth against his naked body. He ponders, wondering what he can do to change his lifestyle and crummy house. He hates his job and his daily routine. This isn't just any morning, though. Michael is about to embark on a journey that will change his perspective on life. Darkest Light is a fantasy and a romance, full of mystical creatures, magical scenes and a beautiful alternative world, which will set your imagination loose.
First Line: Bzz, bzz, bzzz, bzzz. The alarm wakes me with a sudden fright.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review and, initially, I was apprehensive, the premise was nothing like I had read before. I know that alternate universe stories are not unusual however I had never come across one before so this was a new experience for me. The story is set up quickly, we meet Michael, a very discontented fellow who wants more out of life and it's easy to understand why from his descriptions of his home and life. It is easy to identify with Michael because in one way or another we are all somewhat discontented however this is taken to the extreme with his characterisation. The main purpose of many people when reading fantasy books is to escape the monotonous nature of real life in favor of  an exciting fantasy land in which anything can happen. This is usual, what is unusual is to have that happen to a character within a fantasy. Michael himself appears to represent the reader of fantasies in the way that he too escapes his tedious life to go to a brilliant exciting world in which he can gain fulfillment. Overall, the plot of the novel really interested me and I think it was quite successfully executed on the whole with the exception, perhaps, of the slow pace. Not much actually happens within the plot now that I think about it but don't let that put you off, anyone who has read The Catcher in the Rye knows that a book does not need much plot development in order to be successful.

My main criticism of Darkest Light has to be the writing style. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that it is weak. What I mean is that it was not for me. Everyone has a writing style that they prefer and for me it is always past tense, I find it very difficult to connect with a text that is written in present tense and sadly for me this book was. I know of lots of people who favor present tense and I know many have no preference between tenses so this is certainly not something that would put off too many people. I may just have been being picky but this did not sit too well with me and is perhaps a reason why it look me quite a while to finish it, that and my very busy schedule.

I feel quite mixed towards the character if I am honest, on the one hand Taylor depicts them very realistically. All the characters are very multi-faceted, unlike with many authors who idealise their protagonists these ones are very flawed. I know what you're thinking, flaws shouldn't be praised because they make the characters less likable. While this is true, flaws also serve to humanise the characters and make them more relatable. This is certainly true of Michael and Noeleen, they are very human and relatable in a number of ways but I really think it's possible to be too relatable. Like I said earlier, the reason many read fantasy is to escape the real world and to then be greeted with character so realistic that you could meet them in the street could be seen as an anti-climax. This was only slight however, I was quite impressed overall with the character development despite this.

In conclusion, though I could not connect with the writing style of Darkest Light the realism of the characters and the exciting and imaginative plot was really quite impressive and for that reason I gave it three stars. I would recommend this book to sci-fi and fantasy lovers who are less picky than me about narrative style.

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