Darkness Undone (Marked Souls #4) by Jessa Slade
Publisher: Signet Eclipse/March 6th, 2012
Kind thanks to the author for providing a review copy
Sidney Westerbrook has always studied darkness and damnation from a sensible distance. Now to earn his place as a league Bookkeeper, he must discover why Chicago is such a battleground of soul-linked warriors. But the research becomes personal when he finds himself over his head, under attack, and at the mercy of Alyce Carver-a waif with demon-lit eyes, and a deep yearning in her heart.
This is the first book I’ve read by Jessa Slade (I know, shame on me), and all I can say is…wow! Sidney Westerbrook, fresh from London, a bit stiff in his tweeds, is attacked by lesser demons in a rather dark Chicago alley. Along comes the lovely Alyce Carver, feral, wild, and unearthly, and rescues him from almost certain death. All I could think of during her fight with the demons was the fight between River and the Reavers in Serenity (if you haven’t seen that movie, download it, buy it, whatever you need to do), but I digress. I couldn’t help comparing Alyce with River during the entire novel, and it really endeared her to me. She very old, yet she was never properly bonded with her demon, resulting in certain…oddities. Lots of divergent traits, our Alyce has. These oddities are something that Sid is happy to research, since he is to be the Chicago League’s temporary Bookkeeper. What is a Bookkeeper in this case, you might ask? Well, each member of the League is possessed by a repentant demon, or teshuva. They’ve taken on the responsibility to protect their respective areas from lesser demons. The problem is that Sid is inexplicably drawn to Alyce, but he’s determined to maintain his distance. After all, his job is to catalog the history and traits of the talyan and their mates, from a distance. You can bet that’s not gonna happen, but it’s not for his lack of trying…
Darkness Undone knocked my socks off. Yes, it’s the 4th in the Marked Souls series, and since it’s the first one I read, I had a bit of catching up to do, but that’s ok. It was very easy to get attached to each member of the League and especially our main couple, Alyce and Sidney. Well, it was easy to love Alyce. Sid took a bit longer:-D Ahh, Sid. It’s fairly likely you’ll want to slap him more than a few times as you read Darkness Undone. His resistance to love is eye-rolling at times, but he has his reasons. You’ll still want to shake him though, hard. Jessa Slade has created a rich, dark, complex world and populated it with equally complex characters. Luckily, she included a handy glossary in the back. Don’t let that scare you. It’s a pretty short list, and if this is your first read from her, you’ll only have to consult it once or twice. Seriously, her world of possessed humans is all her own. The light of the talyan is counteracted by the darkness of the djinn-men, or humans possessed by not-so-nice angels, and she introduces a villain, Thorne, that you find is not all black and white. He’s pretty firmly in the grey zone, and I found myself sympathizing with him at different points. Don’t worry though, he commits plenty of nasty.
The romance between Sid and Alyce is everything I like in my love stories: lots of push and pull, frustration, cold shoulders, resistance, desire, and plenty of heat. Kick ass fight scenes punctuate this wonderful book, and did I mention the writing is top notch? I didn’t? Well, it is, and Alyce has a dry wit that will delight you, and frankly, make you want to give her a hug. Exploring her mysterious past and mining her relationship with Sid and the League was a delight, and I can’t wait to return to this wonderful world. This series will appeal to Urban Fantasy and Paranormal fans alike, and it’s a must for your bookshelf. I’ll be devouring books 1 through 3, like, now, and will count the days until the next one!