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review 2018-03-21 20:08
A Nordic noir thriller with two fascinating protagonists, D.I. Hulda Hermannsdóttir and Iceland.
The Darkness - Ragnar Jónasson

Thanks to NetGalley and to Michael Joseph for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

I’ve followed with interest the rise in popularity of the Nordic/ Scandinavian Thrillers in recent years, although I have read random titles rather than becoming a dedicated fan of any single writer. (I’ve also watched quite a few of the crime TV series produced in those countries and I’ve particularly enjoyed Wallander, The Bridge, and The Killing). This is the first novel I read by Ragnar Jónasson, although I suspect it won’t be the last.

The novel contains some familiar elements, although with interesting variations. The main character, Hulda, a Detective Inspector, that works in Reykjavík, is 64 and on her way to retirement. She is surprised by the news that this retirement has been brought forward, and, as an afterthought to keep her quiet, her boss tells her she can work on a cold case of her choice. She chooses the apparent suicide of a Russian girl, an asylum seeker because she mistrusts the lead investigator. The novel, written in the third person, mostly from Hulda’s point of view, follows her last three days in the force. I say mostly because there are other fragments that are told from other characters’ points of view, although at first, it is not that clear who they are. We come to understand how they relate to the main story later, but I must clarify that they are clearly distinct, easy to follow, and do not cause any confusion. They do provide additional information, a different perspective, and they help us understand the story and the characters more fully (and yes, they might also mislead us a tiny bit), although I suspect some readers might catch on faster than others as to their true relevance.

Hulda is a known standard of the genre: the old detective forced to leave the job that is determined to solve one last case before retirement. Only, in this case, she is a woman, and she does reflect on how difficult things have been for her because she is a woman, glass ceiling and all. She does share some of the other attributes sometimes typical of these characters: she is very good but not that very well liked; she has to work alone because she is not a favourite among the other detectives; she resents her younger boss and many of her teammates; she is effective but might bend the rules slightly; she is reserved and has suffered tragedies in her life… The author is very good at creating a very compelling character and then making us question our judgment. At least in my case, I really liked Hulda to begin with, but after a while, I realised that she might be one of those favourites of mine, an unreliable narrator (or, although not directly a narrator, her point of view is unreliable). She makes decisions that are morally questionable; she drinks a bit too much; and well… I am keeping my mouth shut. My feelings for this character went from really liking her, to not being so sure, to not liking her very much, and then… This change in opinion and perception is cleverly achieved and extremely well done, and it reminded me of books like We Need to Talk about Kevin (not the story itself, but the way the writer slowly makes us empathise with a character to later pull the rug from under our feet).

The story is dark in more ways than one. As I said, there are morally grey areas (or even quite dark): the subject matter and the fact that a young asylum seeker and her death are not considered important and have been all but forgotten a year down the line (unfortunately that rings true), Hulda’s own life and the secrets she keeps, and Iceland. Although there is not a great deal of violence (and definitely not explicit), there is a certain unsettling air and a cold and menacing atmosphere, that comes in part from Hulda’s paranoia and her personality (suspicious and mistrustful), but goes beyond it. The setting is very important and it contributes to the story and its effect on the reader. Iceland is a character in its own right. The descriptions of the many locations in the book create a picture in the reader’s mind and help understand how important the place is to the mood, the characters, and their way of life. A place where light and darkness rule people’s lives, and where the inhabitants have adapted to conditions many of us would find difficult and hostile. The title is apt for many reasons (as we learn as we read on). It is a noir novel, where nobody is exactly as they appear at first, and where red herrings, false clues, and side-stories muddy the storyline, adding layers of complexity to what appears straightforward, at first.

The writing is fluid, and versatile, providing different registers and clearly distinct voices for the different aspects of the story and the varied points of view, and although it is a translation, it is well-written and the style fits in perfectly the content. It is not the usual fast-paced thriller, but one that builds up tension and organically incorporates the psychology of the characters and the setting into the story.

A couple of examples:

Time was like a concertina: one minute compressed, the next stretching out interminably.

‘She’s being deported. It happens. You know, it’s a bit like those games of musical chairs you play as a kid. The music starts, everyone gets up and walks in a circle and when the music stops, one of the chairs is taken away and someone’s unlucky.’

The ending… I will not talk in detail about it but although perhaps not unexpected, is a bit of a shocker.

A great (and not long) novel for lovers of Nordic thrillers, or anybody who enjoys thrillers that deviate from the norm. I’d also recommend it to anybody intrigued by Iceland and unreliable narrators. And I’d also recommend it to authors always intrigued by other authors’ technique and voice. I intend to keep reading the series. And enjoying it.

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text 2018-03-21 15:28
Locked room variation.
Places in the Darkness - Christopher Bro... Places in the Darkness - Christopher Brookmyre

It was supposed to be a utopia, a city in the sky where only the elite lived, Ciudad de Cielo is the place, usually abbreviated to CdC and sometimes other names. There people work to advance humanity. Only sometimes the work is a load people have issues with, sometimes the pay isn't enough and sometimes the ordinary folk need a break. So an underworld has developed and part of that underworld is Nikki Freeman, a jaded cop whose alter ego Nikki Fixx is well known in the underworld. CdC is a place with low crime and low murder rates until a murder sends everyone into a tail spin. Alice Blake is sent from earth to help investigate but she has no idea who to trust There are factions and plots and more bodies.


Well that was an interesting twist on the locked room mystery, even if it's a bit frayed around the edges of that trope. Fairly believable overall.

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review 2018-03-21 10:00
New Release Review! Guardian of Darkness (Darkness #7) Katie Reus!
Guardian of Darkness - Katie Reus



He saw her die in a vision… 

Before five years ago, Gabriel had never met Vega, but he knows how she's going to die. He knows he'll be involved... unless he can make sure they never meet, never cross paths, so that his vision will never come true. So he left his pack behind, joined the Stavros pack and was determined to never let that future play out. To never meet her at all. Fate had other plans—and she walked right into his life when he least expected it. For the last five years he’s avoided Vega whenever possible even while trying to keep an eye on her. But when she gets cagey with her pack and disappears, he has no choice but to follow her. Now, circumstances are forcing them to work together and he’s determined to protect her against any threat. If that means dying for her, he’s more than willing to. But she doesn’t want his protection. If anything, she’s determined to prove she’s stronger than everyone thinks. 

She’s writing her own future… 

Vega isn’t the same moody teenager who came to live with the Stavros pack all those years ago. With college behind her, she’s been recruited by a division of the government’s supernatural Black Ops. Trained and more than ready for her first mission, she doesn’t expect Gabriel to crash her assignment. To save her cover, they pretend to be a couple. But soon lines are blurred and neither can deny the incendiary attraction between them. As they race to stop a man who wants to sell out their people to the highest bidder, they find themselves fighting for a future together. With time running out, she has no choice but to rely on the irresistible male who’s turned her world upside down. Unfortunately, in order to save the woman he loves, Gabriel has to give her up. 

Length: NOVEL 

Author note: This is a stand-alone novel in the Darkness series complete with an HEA and no cliffhanger. 

Darkness series: 
1. Darkness Awakened 
2. Taste of Darkness 
3. Beyond the Darkness 
4. Hunted by Darkness 
5. Into the Darkness 
6. Saved by Darkness 
7. Guardian of Darkness




Thrills and romance keeps reader glued to the pages of this exhilarating new Darkness novel by Katie Reus.


Vega and Gabriel are two electrifying characters that spark readers’ imagination as they easily draw readers into their story with their sizzling chemistry, steamy romance and charismatic personalities.  The romance between these two have a rocky start but when situations arise, tempers spark and the truth comes out which keeps this romance on the fast track to happily ever after and the characters are life like, easily related to and sexy to boot which makes for one exhilarating love story.


The fast paced, action filled plot keeps readers on the edge of their seats with lots of suspense and thrills as Vega and Gabriel find themselves in hot water in a Black Ops mission where lines are blurred and tensions are high. To top it off the situation is further complicated by some surprising twists that lands the couple in a life altering, nerve-racking and frightening event.


The Darkness world is brought to vibrant life by Katie Reus’s brilliant words, thrilling plots and fascinating characters and I just can’t get enough of it.  Guardian of Darkness had me spellbound from the very beginning and Gabriel and Vega was two very sexy characters. I can’t wait for my next visit to the Darkness World.




Guardian of Darkness is the 7th book in the Darkness series.


Guardian of Darkness is available in print or ebook at:

Amazon   B&N   iBooks   Kobo  


Katie Reus can be found at:

Website   Goodreads   Facebook   Twitter   BookBub   Blog   InstaGram



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review 2018-03-20 14:50
Guardian of Darkness (Darkness #7) by Katie Reus
Guardian of Darkness - Katie Reus

We met Vega in the first book in the series. She used to be a rebel child but not anymore. She’s found her own path and now works for a special force that takes out rogue supernatural beings. I really liked this side of her. She came off as the strong, independent, sensible heroine she’s supposed to be.

Gabriel, knowing what he knew of their future, always proceeded with caution but was never overbearing or possessive. The romance trope was kind of fated mates however it was sweet and believable with a high dose of pure passion and explosive chemistry. During their mission, Vega and Gabriel always behaved as the true partners and the professionals they were supposed to be while keeping their emotions on check. I always love it when an author keeps the plot real yet knows when it should be about the romance. There was only a little scene that made me think “Uhm, why are they doing this now?” Then again that scene gave continuation to the arc so I guess it wasn’t so bad.

We also get to meet new characters and the story digs further into the paranormal world. I think we may be seeing more humans in the future since it seems supernatural and human beings are working together to keep peace all around. All in all it was a great book and I recommend it to anyone looking for a fast-paced, entertaining read. 


*** I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.***

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review 2018-03-19 11:55
Review: Guardian of Darkness by Katie Reus
Guardian of Darkness - Katie Reus

Vega is the half-werewolf, half-vampire daughter of two very powerful supernaturals and has long been the darling of her father's pack. When we met Vega in the first Darkness book, she was a teenager, and although we didn't see most of her years since then, she's now a recent college graduate who is ready to make her mark in the world. Knowing her parents may object, Vega joined a secret government supernatural Black Ops team and is heading out on her first mission.


Gabriel has known Vega is his destined mate long before he even met her, and when his feelings started to become more-than-a-Guardian in nature, he put distance between himself and Vega. He thinks staying away from her will prevent the vision of her death coming true; however, when he sees her strike out on her own with a dangerous group, he is compelled to intervene. Now he's part of her Black Ops mission and heading straight into the heart of his former home, where he foresaw Vega die.


Ms. Reus's Darkness series is a favorite of mine. I enjoy the breadth of the mythology, bringing in all types of supernatural beings, including different half-breeds, each unique and with interesting abilities. Vega is a wonderful example; she was something different and new to the Pack when we first met her, and her abilities continue to evolve as she matures. 


One thing I adore about Vega and Gabriel’s story is the straightforward nature of relationship. Don’t get me wrong – there is subterfuge, and both keep secrets, but once they are together and working on the mission, they open up. For example, Gabriel’s vision was used in the past as a way to keep the pair apart, and could have easily continued to remain a secret, but he shares with her his knowledge and concerns rather than allow them to fester. Likewise, Vega could have hidden her sleuthing activities from Gabriel, but she is honest, and they work as equals on a team. The mutual respect and admiration ignites their sexual chemistry, and they cannot keep their lust at bay.


Guardian of Darkness introduces several new interesting individuals to the Darkness world, each with ties to existing characters. While the addition of so many new players could feel cumbersome, Ms. Reus integrates each with a solid storyline, and in the process has created several new intriguing avenues for the series. I’m most interested in August, the bear-hybrid shifter and leader of Vega’s Black Ops team.


In the end, Guardian of Darkness is an enjoyable, exciting addition to one of the few paranormal romance series I continue to read. The mythology is both traditional and inventive, and with the introduction of so many new players, I continue to look forward to each new title.


My Rating:  B, Liked It

Review copy provided by NetGalley

Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About

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