Friday, May 14, 2010
Title: The Dark Divine
ISBN: 978 1 6068 4057 3
Category: Paranormal Romance
The Dark Divine is a paranormal romance in which our protagonist Grace must decide between loyalties to her pious god-fearing family or her growing feelings and desire to help her estranged childhood friend and one time foster brother, Daniel. Daniel has had a tumultuous and painful life for one so young and he parted with his foster family and best friend Jude, Graces brother, in an abrupt and savage way.
Graces family refuses to discuss the events that led to their estrangement with Daniel and throw themselves subsequently into church and community work for God. Daniel returns to Graces life under the pretence of wanting to get into a coveted art programme and needing to take an AP art class, at Graces religious Holy Trinity school, to qualify for entrance. It soon becomes evident there is more to Daniel and his history with her brother than meets the eye. Secrets are being kept on both sides and Grace sets out to uncover them.
First of all just let me say the protagonist of this story has a great name. Grace Divine. For a story with strong undercurrents of biblical doctrine this is about as apt a name as one could hope to devise for a heroine.
Grace is the child of a pastor; this plot point is used to set up Graces world and her character. She lives in a religious home where common place teenage ways of life are eschewed for a more wholesome church centered life style. An over bearing, slightly neurotic mother has a no cell phone rule for Grace along with a no hooking your computer up to the internet in the bedroom rule. I have to say the whole computer thing gave me a case of twilight déjà vue. There was one scene in The Dark Divine reminiscent of Bella’s internet search on her old computer for Vampires the night after she had dinner with Edward Cullen. Thus went a similar scene in which Grace searched on her old computer for her monster.
Grace attends choir and bible study instead of the hanging out at the mall, and instead of kicking back with friends at the weekends she helps out at her dad’s church sorting boxes of food and clothes for charity. Some may find this goody good persona a little hard to stomach; I’ll admit to rolling my eyes in a few places at how prudishly boring Grace came across as in some places. Despain however manages to keep Grace a relatable character by giving her common ground with her target audience, providing her with moral and ethical dilemma that’s common to all. Honour thy father and Mother as an absolute or pull away from them and make choices for your own life and the possible betterment of others. Do parents always know best? And what of parents that are abusive to their children, do they deserve any honour at all? Grace learns there are no absolutes; life isn’t black and white despite what the bible says. Sin and forgiveness have a sliding scale and that slider sits at a different place for every one of us.
Despain manages to make her supernatural universe fairly believable; she created a plausible background story and incorporated fictional historical letters into the story that lent it a credible twist as well as filling in gaps to the story our narrator and main characters weren’t aware of. The supernatural monsters in Despain’s universe and called Urbats, Hounds of Heaven… or Dogs of Death according to other transcriptions. Created long ago to be god’s watchdogs and fight the forces of hell. Over time they gave in to their human emotions, acted on their desires until eventually their beast side took over and they became what we know today as werewolves.
Despite some excellent foreshadowing clues, which were obvious in retrospect, I was actually caught off guard by the ending. It’s not often a book blindsides me with its ending but this one succeeded. I can say with complete honesty I didn’t see that one coming so well done to Despain.
This was another book with another beautiful cover that had absolutely nothing to do with the story. I mean I like the pretty covers, don’t get me wrong, an attractive cover will get me to buy your book nine times out of ten. But how hard is it to make your pretty cover have at least some connection to the story?
3.5 out of 5