About the Book
Title: Darkness Brutal
Series: The Dark Cycle, #1
Genre: YA Paranormal
Date published: July 1, 2015
Aidan O’Linn’s childhood ended the night he saw a demon kill his mother and mark his sister, Ava, with Darkness. Since then, every three years the demons have returned to try to claim her. Living in the gritty, forgotten corners of Los Angeles, Aidan has managed to protect his sister, but he knows that even his powers to fight demons and speak dead languages won’t keep her safe for much longer.
In desperation, Aidan seeks out the help of Sid, the enigmatic leader of a group of teens who run LA Paranormal, an Internet reality show that fights demons and ghosts. In their company, Aidan believes he’s finally found a haven for Ava. But when he meets Kara, a broken girl who can spin a hypnotic web of passionate energy, he awakens powers he didn’t know he had―and unleashes a new era of war between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness.
With the fate of humanity in his hands, can Aidan keep the Darkness at bay and accept his brilliant, terrifying destiny?
Without thinking, I step a little closer, reaching out slowly to slide a fingertip over the largest petal of the lily tattoo on her lower back. Instantly a vibration moves up my arm, and I swear the mark on my hand burns against my skin.
I clench my fingers into a fist, but I don’t step away.
“Did you feel that?” she asks.
I shake my head. “I don’t know.” I feel so much, always so much.
She takes my hand and brings it to her side again, resting it on the violets. I look at the
purple flowers between my fingers and feel the heat of her skin, the way it slides beneath my palm, soft as silk. And that vibration moves through my arm again.
Her breath quickens.
I find myself moving closer as her blue eyes go wide with wonder. My heart stutters and my chest aches with some unknown need.
“Are you doing this?” I ask. Is she making me want this?
“No,” she breathes. The smell of her turns to spice, sharp and warm, and I know I’m sensing her now, even through the block in the house.
We stand like that for an eternity, still as statues on the outside, but inside I’m running, running toward a place I’ve never been. I should be terrified. But all I feel is strength. Rightness.
And then Kara moves, her hands skimming up my chest, testing the boundaries. Her palms slide to my shoulders, her fingers tracing the line of the muscles in my arms, down to my waist. She grips my shirt, stretching it a little, waiting for me to tell her to stop. But I watch her lift it, let her pull it up, raising my arms, and I even take the last of it off myself, dropping it to the floor.
We breathe, staring at each other.
The vibrations move between us. My left arm buzzes with them. I think she’s doing it. Whatever’s happening, it’s her.
I reach up and brush my marked knuckles across her cheek, amazed at the feel of her, the way her eyes seem to see everything, the way she pulls me into her. I can’t seem to remember why I shouldn’t kiss her. And kiss her. And . . .
I kiss her, taking her face in both hands, skimming my thumb over her jaw as she leans into the touch, reaching out to curl her fingers around the back of my neck. I have to remind myself to breathe. I need more of her. The emotions roll over me in a rush, a tangle of sensation and movement, heat and sugar and heady aromas.
I grip her tighter.
Her nails dig into my shoulders. My hands slide down her spine. The kiss deepens, goes on forever, until I can barely see sense. I explore her shape, the feel of her ribs, the textures and taste of her skin on my tongue as I kiss her neck, her shoulders, her chest. As I draw trembling gasps from her lips, she grips me so hard it hurts.
Our bodies mesh. Our breath mingles in frenzied desperation. Nothing else exists except her. Her warmth. Her spice. Her.
I started it about a week ago, while taking a road trip with my husband. I didn't think he was actually paying attention to it. Then he found out I'd listened to about 15% without him and he complained and demanded a recap of everything on our next long road trip (to my moms and back for Thanksgiving). It's rare we both enjoy the same book, and even more rare that we will listen to an audiobook at the same time. Actually, pretty sure this is only the second instance - the first being the Martian, and that was after I'd already read the ebook version.
Anyway, I had this on whispersync so I could follow along with it while he was driving. This meant I could totally read ahead a bit and pretend like I totally expected things that were going to happen. Also, I'm apparently annoying as hell to listen to an audiobook with, because I loudly commentate on things. ...little does he know, I do the exact same thing when I read the books. I just usually do that under my breath or in a room by myself. I am an emotional reader!
So, for those that know me, you know that my place was broken into last week. So my husband and I weren't in the best of moods over Thanksgiving. But, I will have to say that this book made the traveling so much better. We tried listening to music on the way there, but it just stressed me out and I wasn't okay. As soon as I turned this book on though, I easily focused on the story. I mean, what's $3000 worth of stolen stuff in comparison to a bunch of demons trying to take over the world. Am I right, guys?
This book easily made it as my #1 book of November (which says a lot because I read some pretty good ones last month). The characters were captivating and real for me, the story drew me in and blocked out the world around me, and I was emotionally connected throughout the entire thing - there was yelling, tears, laughing, and other such things. The best book is one that I can absorb myself into completely, and this did that for me.
I noticed many of my friends have this marked on their TBR list on goodreads and to them I say, QUIT WASTING TIME AND ACTUALLY READ THIS ONE! HOLY FLUFF BALLS, GUYS! As soon as I finished it, I started heckling Maribel. "Have you read it yet?" and "Are you done yet?" and "Hurry up, gawd flabbit! I want to discuss it with someone!"
One thing I absolutely enjoyed about this story was how much of it I honestly did not expect. I'm used to having some idea of what is going to happen, but I was taken off guard so many times - which made things even more emotional for me.
It is REALLY hard to put into words how I felt about this book without stepping in to spoiler territory. Just know, you should read it. Now. And then send me a message and fangirl over it with me, because it was awesome. My gawd. When does the second book come out? I need that in my life yesterday.
I swear this is one of the best books I have ever read. EVER. Not many books make that list (I should really write that list down somewhere) and I've decided I need book 2 immediately! The writing was vivid, alive, and had me reading when I should have been doing other things.
Aiden is a complex character with a lot of burden on his young shoulders. His family has a dark past and if he doesn't figure out is purpose, that darkness will spread to the entire world. I don't think I've ever read any book like this one (the only one that comes remotely close that I can think of is Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series) and I can say with certainty that Darkness Brutal surpasses most, if not all of books I've read of its genre. There's a romantic subplot, suspense, mystery, action, and a quest to save the world from doom. It cannot get any better than that.
Even though this book isn't about Aiden's love life, I can't help wondering who, or if, he will end up with Kara or Rebecca. All I know is that they are both vital to Aiden. I found Sid to be one of the most exasperating characters in this book. Why couldn't the dude just say everything that needed to be said? It would have saved so much time and regret.
Darkness Brutal is definitely going on my favorite reads of 2015 list, not only because of the fabulous writing but because I felt a range of emotions reading it (I may have cried a couple of times...) and that is always a positive factor. Therefore Darkness Brutal gets all 5 Platypires!
About the Author
It was very strange but I started writing on a total whim. I wrote a couple stories in high school but had an english teacher that gave me horrible grades and discouraging comments on them so I sort of figured I was no good and stuck to art. After many years passed, marriage happened, and four kids appeared in my life, I started to get stories in my head again. One in particular that kept nagging at me. I sat down at my desk one day and, instead of doing bills, or working on a new quilt pattern, I opened a fresh document and started to write this very odd story about a girl who saw her father killed by a bear—or was it a bear?! Dun-dun-dun!
Twelve years, five dozen short stories, three novellas, and six novels later, I finally got my big break. :)
Oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip?
Oatmeal chocolate chip, of course!
Do you ever write characters you hate?
I love writing characters that I would never want to meet in person. There’s something interesting about getting in their head and figuring out what makes them tick. Sometimes it doesn’t make it into the manuscript, but the journalling or focusing on the motives from a villain or antagonist’s point of view can be very helpful to the story as a whole.
What's your favorite pie?
Invisible pie. I think cooked fruit is a sin of nature.
What do you enjoy, outside of writing?
I love drawing, painting, reading, hiking, dirt bike riding, swimming, and being a mom. Being a mom of four teens might be the most awesome job ever.
Were there any scenes in Darkness Brutal that were difficult for you to write?
The toughest scene in DARKNESS BRUTAL to write was the reveal scene where Aidan is told why he has the gifts that he has. It was a huge scene with loads of details and I wanted it to feel satisfying to the reader, without feeling like it’s coming out of left field, since it’s such a complex idea—no spoilers. ;)
Do you prefer your books in print or e-book format?
I am happy to read words in any format, but I think lately I’ve been really addicted to my Kindle Voyager.
Batman or Superman?
Superman! Always. Superman. Though Batman is that sexy broody type which is nice, and he’s a good backup. I just wish those two could find a way to get along since they’re both so amazingly awesome.
What is your favorite book?
My favorite book? Oh, man, that’s an impossible question. I have been reading like a maniac for so long, from devouring Babysitter’s Club and Hardy Boys like candy to gobbling up The Shining and Interview With A Vampire. I think if I had to say which book I could read over and over I’d have a smaller list, maybe. Top five: The Giver by Lowry, Pillars of the Earth by Follet, Son of Shadows by Marillier, Swan Song by McCammon, and Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.
How do you get over writer's block?
The only thing that’s helped me with writer’s block over the years is to just keep writing. Write descriptions, write small scenes of dialogue, even if none of it pertains to what I’m working on at the time. I find most blocks come because my brain is trying to figure something out. If I work around the problem by distracting my brain, it usually shakes the solution loose eventually.
Who is your favorite character that you've written?
That’s a tough question. Usually my favorite character is from whichever story I’m working on at the time. But there has been one, a character that just wouldn't let go over the years: Arianna. She’s from a manuscript I started writing about seven years ago, just before I was diagnosed with cancer. It was titled GOLDEN (the sample first chapter is on my website). The project stalled about two-thirds through, but after my chemo and some recovery time, I went back to it because the voice of Arianna wouldn’t let go of me. I started over from word one, digging deeper into the character, the world, finding a whole complex web of things I’d never considered about it all. Arianna took on new life, becoming so loud in my head that I wrote the second draft of the manuscript in six months. Of course, I rewrote the second half three more times before I was done. In the end I got several agent offers and even some editor bites, but by that time Hunger Games was huge and Divergent had just released, so the apocalyptic market had become saturated. The agent I was with at the time couldn’t sell it, and GOLDEN missed the window, Arianna never saw the light of day. Maybe someday. It’s the story that inspired DARKNESS BRUTAL so there might actually be a chance now, seven years later. Maybe it’s time for one more rewrite.
Who is your favorite author?
My favorite author is probably Amy Tan. I love her work and her person. I’ve heard her speak several times and I always, without fail, end up inspired.
How do you handle negative reviews of your books?
Negative reviews are a part of the business, unfortunately. They’re definitely not fun but they can be a good challenge, some can actually be helpful and make me a better writer, so I don’t want to overlook them or totally ignore them.
What's something about you that most people don't know?
Most people don’t know that I was expelled from private high school my senior year, three months before graduation . . . for being a witch. Yippe! I wasn’t a witch, but I was struggling with cutting and bulimia. Some of my stories and poems were found in my desk and I ended up in front of a table full of frowning adults, who decided I was toxic to the school’s culture. What I didn’t realize then was that I should be thanking that room full of frowners, because they gave me great fodder for my future stories about teen angst.
What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m reading Boundary Lines by Melissa F. Olson and it’s quite good.
Do you have a favorite genre to write?
I’d say my favorite genre to write is fantasy, then romance. I usually try to mingle the two. All stories should have at least a little bit of romance, in my opinion. ;)
Is there a type of genre you refuse to write?
I can’t see myself writing certain things, like Westerns or Spy novels. But that doesn’t mean I would resist them if an idea came to be strong enough.
There's a lot of distractions around, especially with social media, how do you block it all out and write?
I have to go places where the internet is tougher to connect to. And I have to be disciplined—not always an easy thing for me. But when deadlines loom, focus is vital. Before I was published I used self-initiated deadlines. Those can help, along with daily word counts. Treat your writing like a job even before you’re getting paid, so that when things get real it’s that much easier to get in the rhythm of it all.
Humor me, because this is my favorite (mythical) animal: Would you ever consider putting a platypire in one of your books?
That would be freaking awesome! It could be a vampire’s pet, maybe. ;)