Sunday, March 31, 2013

Book Review: Darker Things by Rob Cornell

I’m a pretty avid reader. I would say “voracious” but I tend to go in spurts where I spend most of my free time reading book after book after book and then go several weeks without reading anything (other than my daily news feeds on the internet, that is). Lately I’ve had some trouble finding anything that grabbed my interest beyond the first chapter or two. Personally, I blame George R.R. Martin, who’s epic writing style has nearly ruined me for being able to read other authors (he needs to hurry the hell up and finish book six of A Song of Ice & Fire, dammit!). I also kind of lost my love of Terry Goodkind’s Richard & Kahlan novels due in part to his repetitive dialogue and constant preachiness regarding Objectivist philosophy (not that I entirely disagree with that school of thought, but I don’t read fiction to understand philosophical points of view; I read fiction for entertainment).

Several months (actually, almost a year) ago my Twitter feed was followed by one Rob Cornell. I typically ignore follows unless I happen to know the person in real life, but this time I decided to return the follow. Mr. Cornell is a writer, albeit not of a genre of fiction I normally go for, but I decided to follow him on Twitter nonetheless just in case I decided I wanted to check out some of his work. Well, recently I did just that; Darker Things (The Lockman Chronicles, book 1).

As previously mentioned, Darker Things is not typically the type of novel I would read. Being a long time fan of Fantasy and the occasional science-fiction piece, I’m not normally a fan of horror, thrillers, and the like; or, what Cornell calls “urban fantasy”. With all the vampire craze these days with the True Blood series on HBO, not to mention the Twilight novels and movies that are so popular (although I can’t imagine why), I was a bit skeptical of reading something that (at first glance) would fall into that niche. Well, I was both proven wrong and pleasantly surprised that Darker Things is decidedly not a “vampire novel”. I think the authors label of “urban fantasy” is probably the best way to describe it. Yes, there are supernatural elements (vampires, ghosts, werewolves, magick, etc.), but that doesn’t seem to be the focus. It’s more like an espionage/thriller/action story that happens to include elements of the fantastical. I would say more, but I really don’t believe in spoilers in a book review.

I took advantage of the free sample on my Nook, which included the Prologue, Chapter 1 and about half of Chapter 2. That was enough to get my hooked (especially since Cornell didn’t waste much time getting right into the action) and I quickly found myself paying the $2.99 to download the complete novel (note, I happened to catch it on sale - but the normal price for the ebook is still only about $3.99; when you consider that a typical mass-market paperback these days runs $8-10, this is a great bargain and you don’t have to kill a tree to read it).

The characters are well thought out and developed. The story moves along quickly with each chapter ending in way that makes the reader want to turn the page to find out what happens next. The author definitely keeps you guessing; I can’t call this novel predictable by any stretch. If I had to give any critique at all it would be Cornell’s tendency to use sentence fragments when conveying a character’s inner-monologue instead of using semi-colons, but that’s merely a stylistic thing I suppose and in no way detracts from the quality of the story itself.

I thoroughly enjoyed Darker Things and look forward to reading the next two books in the The Lockman Chronicles.

Darker Things is available in several formats for download:

If you’re still into dead-tree versions of books, well, you may be out of luck - but Smashwords does have formats that are viewable in a browser, Adobe Reader or a word processor, and I guess you can always print it out yourself if that’s really a big deal for you.

~ JC

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