Thursday 14 July 2016

Clare Reviews: Darkness by Karen Robards

DarknessTitle: Darkness
Author: Karen Robards
Source: Received from the Publisher in exchange for honest review
Pages: 384
Rating: 3.5/5
Blurb: BOOM. That’s the sound that changes everything for Dr. Gina Sullivan, a renowned ornithologist on a group research grant trip on the remote island of Attu, Alaska. When an everyday outing turns sinister at the onset of one of Attu’s infamous storms, Gina expects thunder and lightning—but what she doesn’t see coming is the small jet plane that drops out of the sky and into the water mere feet from her boat. Even more unprecedented: there’s a sole survivor from the crash, and he needs Gina’s help. But it turns out that rescuing the stranger and getting them both out of the oncoming storm is just the beginning. Because the more Gina learns about James “Cal” Callahan, he of brooding eyes and muscled frame, the more she fears—for herself, and for him.
Cal has made a career of trading on government secrets and emerging unscathed—until a routine pickup goes horribly wrong and lands him in ice-cold water. Literally. He knows the plane crash was no accident and that there could very well be an enemy force currently combing the Alaskan island ensuring there were no survivors. Now if only the arrestingly beautiful bird-watcher with the clear-blue gaze would stop watching him, well, like a hawk. Cal convinces Gina to return to base camp and help him covertly get off the island. But when Gina makes it safely back to camp and finds her entire team murdered, all bets are off, and as darkness envelops the island, she must decide: trust a man she barely knows, or go it alone and risk running straight into the arms of a killer? 

The blurb promised me an "atmospheric, tightly wound thriller" that would keep me "spellbound until the very last page". And it delivered on most of that. I read all of its nearly 400 pages in one sitting and the plot and setting were definitely both atmospheric and thrilling.

I did find that I was never really worried about these characters however. As exciting and enthralling as Cal and Gina's story is - I never once doubted their happy ending. I also really wanted to doubt the motives of both main characters. But although they, sensibly, doubted each other in the beginning I was never given the opportunity to doubt them myself. Too much of their backstories and their motives were revealed right away so I was left convinced of their joint innocence. 

The romance between Cal and Gina was a compelling part of the story - due to the nature of their situation it was slightly rushed. Not quite insta-love but definitely in that general area. I definitely would have liked a more resolved ending, the final chapter was just two pages and I wanted a bit more for me to be convinced that their love would last. The love scenes were peppered with a lot of similes and metaphors  - they kissed like the world was going to end too many times to count. 

The real strength of this book lies in the action. The plot is almost perfectly paced, with enough action and suspense to keep the reader engaged but not so much that it becomes exhausting to keep up with. There were a few quieter moments which offered an opportunity to get to know the characters more and gave the ensuing action more dramatic punch.

This is the first Karen Robards book I have read but it hopefully won't be the last. Although I had a few problems with the writing style at times - overall I thought it was a fun and engaging story that kept me reading. She managed to deliver a thrilling novel with great characters and I look forward to discovering more from her.

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