Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

Dark GoddessTarget Audience: Teens/Young Adults/Adults
Genre: Fantasy/Horror

***Contains Some Spoilers***

Ok, so at first i thought: How the hell is Sarwat Chadda going to top the genius that was Devil's Kiss? The answer, i'm not sure, but he managed to.

As with the last book, this follows Billi SanGreal as she deals with those that are deamed unholy (werewolves, vampires etc) only this time she's dealing with the heartache of killing her soulmate Kay with her own sword to save the lives of many. If that wasn't enough to deal with, three months after his death she finds herself embroiled in a plot that may cause the death of the whole world if it comes to pass. In an effort to prevent the disaster occuring, she travels to Russia in search of a goddess dead set on cleansing the planet with a volcanic winter.

I'm going to take an easy way in writing this review and list the reasons i love it because if i try to write an mini essay i know i'll miss something:

1. Plot - as with his first book the plot is inventive, and despite the sheer number of books involving werewolves, vampires and the like it still manages to stand out. For one, the werewolves aren't drop dead gorgeous nice guys, yet neither are they bad-guys and even the really so called enemies are multi-faceted and not straight forward evil. It's difficult to explain, yes there's evil in the book, but for once, as the reader, i got a very good explanation as to why (rather than your standard 'she/he is just an evil person') This aside, it also makes for a complex story, with more than one plot line running throughout the story. In some cases, multiple plots make for a confusing mix, yet in this case, they all merged and blended seamlessly making for a beautifully told adventure story with more than a smattering of horror.

2. Genre - With most books there seems to be one over-riding genre, but i found this wasn't the case with this book. Yes, the main element is paranormal/horror, but i also found this to be a comprehensive adventure story with a hint of romance.

On top of that, there was also Billi's search for resolution within herself as she tried to come to terms with the trauma she suffered months ago, these parts of the text made for emotional moments for me as a reader as she slowly learns to move on.

The horror aspect of it was quite gruesome at times, and so i'd warn against young teens reading it, as some of the death/fighting scenes had me exclaiming outloud. (My sister thought i was nuts when i started yelling 'Yuck, that's disgusting' rather loudy, especially since she was trying to read The Reckoning!)Having said that though, personally i love a good horror novel, and it wasn't the most graphic i've read by a long shot!

3. Characters - I think i've already mentioned a lot about Billi but i did discover a lot more about her. She demonstrates a more steely side in this book, with her determination to not feel and just get the job done. This made it all the more amazing watching her overcome the barriers she's put around herself, and also watching her learn to feel again for others.
Her relationship with her father was another interesting development since now i know he doesn't hate her and now there trying to built their relationship again.
This was one of the things i was wondering how it would be done as it would have been unrealistic for Arthur and Billi to be all hugs and cuddles constantly, and thankfully that wasn't what happened.
Arthur's affection for his daughter is obvious now that he isn't being all cold towards her to toughen her up, and i found their relationship realistic as they try to make up for lost ground and put things right.
Having said that Arthur still has his moments, but i love the references he now makes to Billi's mum, about how alike they are, now that he's not avoiding mentioning the past.

The other stand out characters for me were Ivan who, in his own way, is just as troubled as Billi and so similar he was the perfect person to make her face up to things and come to terms with the demons in her life, i thought he was awesome.
Vasilisa was brilliant too, even though she was missing for a good proportion of the novel, she was still eerily present with the all the references that were made to her, and she bacame a major figure in the events that occur towards the end.
The two main enemies: the dark goddess herself and the werewolf pack are much more multi sided than in a lot of the book's i've read, prompting the question, is anyone completely evil? The answer i won't reveal, needless to say you'll make your own mind up whilst reading it.

4. Ending - What can i say? It's not the ending i was expecting, and that's all i'm saying, apart from this: It will leave chills running down you spine.

Brilliant book, Full Marks :-)

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