Reviewed: July 14, 2010
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Lords of the Underworld, Book 6
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 442 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Disclosure: This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
I've been a monster fan of Showalter's LotU series since first spending time with Maddox, but I have to admit, after book six, I'm a little befuddled. In The Darkest Lie we see the development of the relationship between Gideon, keeper of Lies, and Scarlet, keeper of Nightmares, plot threads with Galen (Hope), head of the Hunters, and Mnemosyne, Rhea's sister and Cronus' sister-in-law, not to mention the threads with other Lords, Strider (Defeat) in particular, but also a quest with Amun (Secrets), Aeron (formerly Wrath) and William (not a Lord, but still). I gotta be honest, as much as I totally love the series and commend Showalter on her imagination and originality, I felt there were way too many balls up in the air in The Darkest Lie, to the detriment of the development of Gideon and Scarlet as individual characters and together in their relationship, and this is the first book of the series that, as a whole, didn't quite knock it out of the park for me.
Believe me, I'm hesitant in saying that, because honestly, I liked the book, and there were parts that I enjoyed much better than in the two previous books (the ending in particular). I love Gideon - always have - and I enjoyed Scarlet's character very much (other than having a slight issue with the repetition of her inner dialogue in relation to Gideon). Showalter did an excellent job on her personality and the originality of her demon, though man, Showalter is tough on character backstory! The torment Scarlet has lived with through thousands of years would have demonized a lesser immortal, that's for sure. Still, she is fiery, contradictory, tenacious, stubborn, and strong willed, and I felt she was the perfect match for Gideon, who has always been one of my favorite Lords. I loved their scenes and all of their interactions - the pair were even one of the high points in the last book. The problem is that there weren't enough of their scenes or their development, and that's becoming a familiar issue with the series.
The trend of meeting a Lord's HEA character in books prior to that Lord's actual story is one that's not sitting well with me. I'm not sure what's niggling me about it, but it's making the romance aspect seem almost anticlimactic. It's also at least part of the reason that I haven't felt there's been enough development with the featured couple in their own books lately. It would definitely prevent a new reader from joining the series at this point. These are no longer and in no way stand-alone books, not that the first few would have been completely successful as such. Now, though, there's way too much going on to allow for enough exposition to bring a new reader up to speed. Hell, there's no time for enough exposition to remind readers already familiar with the series about what's going on.
Also, a couple of things started to wear on me while I was reading, most notably, the latter books are virtually unrecognizable from the earlier books. Does anyone remember the war between Hunters and Lords? Lately the series is more about godly politics and machinations - and I don't enjoy that as much. Plus, I'm all for a series growing and developing, but there are so many different characters and plot threads involved in The Darkest Lie that there was more than one point in the book that I had to stop and think about how everything is supposed to connect. And I failed to make some of those connections. Not to mention, while I was originally of the opinion that the addition of the pathos of the Titans and Greeks was interesting, it's starting to weigh down the overall arc.
What did happen to the fight between the Lords and Galen's Hunters? There was a scene or two tossed in here, but it was more a nod given than actual story arc progression. And I think Showalter has started too many threads with too many characters that provide too many teasers without any sort of resolution. What is/was William? What is Ex? How will Gilly's issues with William be resolved? What's Sienna going to do now that she's burdened with Wrath? Will Atlas be joining the fray with his mate now that his name's been brought up, as was alluded to in his short story? What the hell is Strider (Defeat) doing making blanket decisions about the cloak?
Here's my big question: What happened to a paranormal romance book that introduces the romantic lead pair, develops their characters and their relationship, and gives them a hard-earned but deserving HEA in one book, with the overall series arc developing alongside, occasionally overlapping, but never overshadowing that relationship? That question is currently going unanswered in The Darkest Lie and the LotU series. I'm still a fan of the series. I still love Showalter and her stories. The book is well written in technique, with all the aplomb Showalter always exhibits. But if I'm to be completely honest, the non-relationship plot threads are overwhelming the relationships in these books lately, and it's lessening my enjoyment of the stories.
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