Darkness Unbound — book review

DARKNESS UNBOUND by Keri Arthur. Piatkus £7.99

Reviewed by Pauline Morgan

It is refreshing to read an urban fantasy novel set in a different part of the world. This is Melbourne, Australia, in the near future.

Although most people are probably not aware of them, there are supernatural beings living within the community. Risa Jones is one of them as are most of her family and friends. She is half werewolf and half Aedh. The Aedh are long-lived and mostly non-corporeal though they can take on flesh, especially towards the end of their lives when they want to breed. At those times they resemble angels. Risa has the acute senses and libido of a wolf but is unable to shape-change. She can, however, become Aedh, reducing her body to atoms while still retaining coherent thought.

Risa’s mother is a celebrity clairvoyant. She has never met her father as she was the result of a one-night stand. Her best friends are a werewolf firestarter and a weremare witch. Together the three of them run a popular restaurant. They don’t mix much with ordinary humans. Because of her heritage, Risa can also see reapers. These are the beings that arrive to escort the souls of the dead through the gates onto the next step of the souls’ cycle. Some will eventually be reborn. Risa does not like hospitals as there are too many reapers hanging around waiting for their assigned souls.

At the start of Darkness Unbound, Risa’s mother asks her to visit the sick daughter of a client to establish whether the child’s soul has already been taken on. She finds that the soul has been stolen, torn painfully out of the body leaving only a shell. Immediately afterwards she finds that she has a reaper stalking her. Fortunately, he is not after her soul, yet. He has been assigned to follow to see if her father contacts her. This reaper is not the only one who wants to talk to her father as she soon discovers when she is attacked in a car park. It seems that three keys have been created that can open or close permanently the gates between this and the next world. This would not be a good move as souls would not be able to move on, nor be reincarnated leaving most babies as vegetables. Why her father would want to contact her after twenty eight and a half years, Risa finds baffling but since more than one group of supernaturals want the keys, she and her friends are in the direct line of fire.

This is the first of a new series so that the reader can begin with no preconceptions. The pace is fast and furious with Risa moving from peril to peril with alarming alacrity. The only time she finds time to relax is during her sexual encounters with Lucien, an Aedh who has had his wings removed. This is a quick read designed to pass a few hours pleasurably and at the end there are plenty of hanging threads to carry the series on.