I suppose there’s always the danger during a long-running plotline of getting off track. Author often create worlds with great complexity, and I can certainly see how it would be tempting to explore and take readers with them. Unfortunately, that makes it all too easy to stall and lose sight of the main story. Darkness Hunts is an example of just that, sending the main character off to do things that have nothing to do with the series’s direction.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Risa Jones, half-Aedh/half-werewolf, can enter the realm between life and death. She can speak to the dying and the dead, and she can see the reapers, collectors of souls. What she can not yet see is the identity of a stranger murdering women and draining their blood. Now Risa must summon her gifts to find him, even if it means putting her own life in danger. But Risa needn’t look far. The killer knows who she is.
He tells her his victims are infected by darkness and he’s fated to destroy them. Fascinated by Risa, he engages her in a sinister game: the chance to save the life of his next victim by deciphering his series of clues. In a race against time, she enlists the help of the reaper Azriel.
But as an attraction between them grows, so does the fear that the stranger’s motives are only part of a larger, more dangerous stratagem—one that that has lured Risa and Azriel into the dark.”
I’ve been reading Arthur for quite a few years now, and I notice that she tends to get off track in some very specific ways. For one, she allows the relationships between the characters to take center stage and divert page time away from accomplishing the story’s stated goals (in this case, finding the keys to the gates between life and death). By keeping the relationships in flux, the author has the characters have the same conversation over and over. I’ve mentioned this in previous reviews as well. Risa and Azriel engage in a constant round of “No, we mustn’t give in to our lust! But we want to! But we can’t! But we want to!” Eventually, it gets tiresome.
Arthur also has the exact same event happen repeatedly as well. In this book, as in the previous one, the Aedh opposing Risa’s father keep snatching her from wherever she happens to be, doing nasty things to her, and then throwing her back. It got to the point that I was thinking “Oh no, not this again.” The effect of the abductions is blunted by seeing it too many times and, therefore, knowing that Risa will not come to any permanent harm.
Finally, the author likes to have Risa explore her abilities and stretch their boundaries. This is great and would normally lead to some good character development, but none of what happens here has any relation to the story about finding the keys. At this point, the series has gone for two novels with absolutely no forward momentum on the main plotline, and that’s too long. I’m all for exploring Risa and what she can do, but I’m getting annoyed with the constant diversions from the point of the series.
I do have to say that, as a stand-alone story, the book was enjoyable. Some of the ideas Arthur presented in terms of the murderous stranger were unusual and might open up some possibilities for future books. And the killer is definitely written well enough that he’s truly chilling.
Really, I have no complaints about the story as is, but I can’t really set aside the fact that, as part of the series, the book doesn’t hold up too well. Darkness Hunts makes no progress with the main plot and instead goes off on a book-long tangent. I hope the author gets back on track soon.