Daughters of Darkness takes readers to Briar Creek, Oregon, where vampire sisters Rowan, Kestrel, and Jade hide from the Night World.
Shows Its Age
First published in 1996, this novel has gone through several edits, the first being in the early 2000s with the publication of the omnibuses and then again in 2016 with the special collector’s edition. Minor changes were made to modernize the story without rewrites, the prime example being changing Walkman to iPods.
The publisher wanted to modernize the story for readers. However, the tone, the characterization, the story all scream the 90s and highlight the lack of substance in the novel.
The world that LJ Smith has created revolves around something she calls the “soulmate principle.” Each novel focuses on a different set of characters and gives the reader a sense of the night world, a secret underground society inhabited by witches, vampires, and werewolves.
I have only read the first two books of the series, but each story focuses on a couple of characters and their love for one another. It is what drives the story forward. The insta-love trope is not one that I hate, but I do not love it either. Usually, this trope has a habit of distracting the reader from the story, and without any measurable depth, it fails to hold my intrigue.
In Daughters of Darkness, Smith not only employs this trope once but twice, to my annoyance. Now, I will say, the romance between Mary and Ash was better than the romance between Mark and Jade because Smith attached the romance to something. They both love astronomy that connects them. So there is some measure of depth between them because of that.
For the other two, not so much.
The romance fails with Mark and Jade because Jade, like all the other characters, Mary being the exception, is incredibly two-dimensional. There is no depth to the characters at all, and it affects the overall enjoyment for the reader. In addition, the characters read differently than other characters present them.
Take Rowan, for example. She is presented as the oldest of the trio and considered the wisest. However, she reads as absentminded and dense. There is nothing remarkable about, nothing wise, just nothing. For Jade, presented as a teenager in high school, she sounds much more like a young child. This also made the romance feel uncomfortable.
The characters lacked any measurable depth, which made connecting with them difficult. The story is fun to read, entertaining and quick, but it has no substance.
In a way, I think this review shows my age. Had I read Daughters of Darkness back when I was 13 or 14, I think I would have loved it. Hell, I loved Twilight when it first came out, but there is a reason I have not re-read it. This book lacks depth; it lacks substance. Maybe I am just used to the stories I read now, many of which the authors bleed real-world issues into their stories to give them more substance.
No, not every novel has to be groundbreaking to challenge the reader, but they have to offer the reader something more than an overplayed insta-love cliché. Did I love Daughters of Darkness? No, but I did not hate it either. As I said, it was entertaining but is for a much younger audience than this 30-year-old reader.
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|Pub Date: December 6, 2016||Page Count: 256pp||Age Range: 14 & Over|
|ISBN: 978-1-4814-7964-6||Publisher: Simon Pulse||List Price: $13.99|