Book Review: The Darkness Kept by L.R. Giles

First things first, I am not into fantasy. The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, you can keep all that shit. That’s not a slight to the very talented authors who write these stories. I mean, they must be doing something right – these tales endure for years and their characters connect with readers in a way that’s nothing short of amazing.

I, however, have never warmed to the genre, unless it was mixed with something else I did like. (Star Wars, for example, has fantastic elements but I would first and foremost consider it sci-fi.) This is despite the fact that some of my favorite movies as a kid were Krull, Legend, and The Dark Crystal.

Anyway, long story short (too late) I never dug fantasy. Even still, when author L.R. Giles promoted his urban contemporary fantasy novel The Darkness Kept, I decided to give it a read. Gotta support my fellow writers, no?

The story revolves around Kendrick Dampier, a mage who finds himself pursued by the evil Cablon Corporation after the murder of three high ranking executives. You see, Cablon is no ordinary company – they are ruled by dark magicians who, as the book’s description states, masquerade as wealthy businessmen in a world where money and science have usurped faith and sorcery. Also on Dampier’s trail is a brother and sister bounty hunter team with their own agenda of vengeance.

Right off the bat I knew this novel was going to be different. Its contemporary setting definitely helped make the tale more palatable to my tastes, and I was very enthralled by the fact the main characters were Black. Even more impressive was how Giles revealed this without being too overt in the descriptions.

Further, the story had quite a few twists I did not see coming. Seemingly random elements introduced early in the story paid off in believable ways and always at the right moment.

The world Giles created was completely fleshed out, with warring factions, evil corporations, and even angelic cinephiles figuring into the mix. Characters are real people, er, being, with their own nuances and quirks. Battle scenes were well-written; thankfully, Giles didn’t succumb to the incoherence most authors suffer from when trying to write fight scenes.

In fact, if there is one thing that I found just a wee bit off-putting, it was the level of violence in The Darkness Kept. True to its title, the novel is quite dark (this ain’t your typical grade school fantasy) and at times the brutality is hard to stomach. It’s a testament to Giles’ talent that the gore and violence didn’t feel gratuitous.

The Darkness Kept is obviously the first in a series of stories about the conflict in which Dampier has found himself. Without giving away the end, I can say that Giles has set up a wonderful concept, similar to what the makers of the Star Trek reboot have done. The possibilities for future adventures of Kendrick Dampier, and his allies and enemies, are endless.

Which also means I may be inclined to continue reading them as soon as they’re released. Who knows? Maybe I’ll become a fan of fantasy yet.

The Darkness Kept is available for Kindle at Amazon.

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