Cover Image: A  Broken Darkness

A Broken Darkness

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Member Reviews

Enjoyed this book SO much more than the earlier one. It still felt very YA, but that didn’t take away from the story. I’ve been thinking a lot about the cosmic horror part, and the reason I didn’t really feel that aspect of the book is that the whole YA, teenager vibe diluted and drowned out the horror.
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Loved the book and the characters. The world building was cool and interesting. Can't wait to read more by this author. Will let me friends and family know to check this book out.
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A brilliant sequel! I laughed out loud, I felt feelings. I look forward to reading more from Premee Mohamed. This is such a great series.
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After loving the first book, Beneath the Rising, I was incredibly excited to review it's sequel. It took me a while to get back into the story, but eventually I got pulled in.

The best aspect of these books continued to be the relationship between the two main characters. The author did a fantastic job developing a friendship that truly felt deep. 

These speculative fiction books straddle the lines between fantasy, science fiction and horror. With the first book, I honestly struggled to classify it between these three genres. However, I would say that it's sequel definitely felt like horror. The story is fairly action packed, at times to the detriment of the story. However, I was certainly intrigued by The Ancient Ones and enjoyed learning more about them.

I did not enjoy this one as much as the first book, but it still had pieces of what I loved in that book. This could be the end of the series, but I certainly would be interested to read more by this speculative author. I would recommend this one to fans of Cosmic Horror.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher Rebellion Publishing.
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3.5 stars.
Premee Mohamed rejoins her characters after some time has passed after the events in book one. Johnny is off being brilliant, and Nick is hurting, broken and angry from his experiences saving the world from monsters from another dimension, and more importantly, having been manipulated all his life. 
He’s now working for Sariti, and when an opportunity presents itself, travels to Edinburgh for the launch of a new reactor by Johnny. Of course, things don’t go well. In fact, things go all tentacled and bloody and gory, and Nick and Johnny have to figure out what to do to deal with the monsters. However, Nick’s anger and damage are a factor, and Johnny’s secrets, which she divulged to him on their last save-the-world jaunt; even while they begin travelling like they did in book one, there’s a high level of friction in all their interactions, even while they easily fall back into old friendship behaviour patterns.

This was a more difficult book to read, as Nick spent a lot of time circling back to his anger with Johnny, and his regret over having hurt his family (in book one). I actually loathed Johnny for most of this story, and kept wanting to drop kick her somewhere, and head back to Nick’s family, even while Nick (and I) realized that despite her persistently amoral actions, she was still the best bet for closing off all possible openings from our world to the monsters’ dimension.
I found myself wishing the book was somewhat shorter. I appreciated that like last book, Johnny needed bits and pieces of information found in different places, but I wished that all the travelling time (and attendant arguing) had formed a shorter part of the book. At the same time, I realize that the injury to the friendship required time to be addressed, and Nick needed time to find his way through his tangle of hurt and anger.
I did like the entry of other characters, like Mrs. Huxley, to the narrative, and liked the author’s choice to end the book like she did, and now have to know what’s next? 

Thank you to Netgalley and to the publisher for this ARC.
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I did not read the prequel. Somehow I didn't realize this was the second book of a series so I was thrown in with no idea of what was happening. I think if I had read the previous story and fully understood the story I would have enjoyed it more. What I did read was interesting and I can see this author writing some great stuff but I'll need to go back and find what I'm missing. Three stars for creativity.
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The follow-up to the excellent, frenetic Beneath the Rising, sees our odd couple (increasingly at-odds couple) Nick and Johnny thrown back together and back into the fray against Them, the vast cosmic horrors seeking to gain entry to our world. In the previous book, the truths behind their tense dynamic — she, the child savant, changing the world daily, burning bright and fast and finite; he, poor, brown and unremarkable, but bound to her, in love with her — was the gravity that kept us connected to a fast-paced adventure horror that sparked and scared in equal measure. Now the full truth of that relationship is out there, and Mohamed rightfully exposes the abuses of power that underpinned it. It’s painful and genuinely toxic. The character development is mature. The crackling dialogue returns. Basically, all the elements that made Beneath the Rising so good are here again, but with the creep show elements ramped up even further. It’s a very good read.

But it’s not as strong as its predecessor, and the dynamic between Nick and Johnny is the abiding issue. With the nature of their connection revealed, but with no breathing space given to its impact, no distance given to process it, and no realistic pathway to develop it, the toxic interactions are frequently distracting. The plot doesn’t let up, which is good, but it leaves the two characters a bit frozen in place and swept along. At times, it’s just wearing.

I’d still recommend this book, but I’d advise patience.
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Thank you NetGalley.   I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

A Broken Darkness is a sequel in a series, and It's pretty important to read the first book in the series. 

The cover of the book is simple but makes sense to the genre / storyline. 
The writing is easy to follow and truly keeps your interest.
I was honestly impressed with this book and would gladly read others by this author.
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Since this is the second book in a series, I felt a little lost concerning what created the Anomaly in the first book. However, the narrator, Nick, spends a lot of time referring to the Anomaly and how it has affected his relationship with Johnny, the other main character. There's also a lot of bickering between Nick and Johnny; the toxicity just emanates from the page and it's SO exhausting to read.

There’s a lot going on in this book. A lot of SciFi and something other reviewers call “cosmic horror”, which I’m not that well versed in. As a result, a lot of what I've read went straight over my head; too many superfluous descriptions which would probably excite hardcore SciFi lovers, but didn't really do it for me. However, I mostly enjoyed the magical parts, especially the ones in a library.
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A Broken Darkness is the sequel to Beneath the Rising,, a 2020 Lovecraftian horror/thriller novel that got a lot of praise last year from people I follow.  And I did like Beneath the Rising a decent bit, as the dynamic of its two major characters - protagonist Nick and his supergenius best friend Johnny - worked really well as they globetrotted in search of a way of stopping the ineffable.  The story's horrors weren't particularly scary or even interesting, but the relationship between the main duo was fascinating, especially with its final act reveal.  So I was very curious to see how the sequel handled the change in that relationship.

And the answer is....mixed.  On one hand the story moves quick and reads really well, so I had no problem finishing this in around 3 and a half hours despite the book being around 400 pages long, and our main character's internal conflict from the last books' reveals are done well.  On the other hand, this book relies a lot more on the technobabble magic/science/math tricks from Johnny to advance the plot, and it just doesn't do it for me, and neither does the nameless lovecraftian horrors that attack our protagonists and the world.  And it all ends up in an ending that is either unsatisfying or a cliffhanger (without a book 3 seemingly announced), so I'm not as enthused about this series as I once was.

More after the jump: WARNING:  MAJOR SPOILERS for book 1 - if you haven't read book 1, the below will spoil that book's big twist.  You have been warned.

-------------------------------------------------Plot Summary------------------------------------------------------
A year and a half has passed since the Anomaly, when Nick came back too late to Johnny to help her stop Them before they could devastate the world at the cost of hundreds of millions of lives.  Nick has spent the time since trying to avoid Johnny as much as possible - not being anywhere near her, not seeing her on TV, not having anything to do with her.  And yet, when he was invited to join the Ssarati Society, the magical society dedicated to protecting the world from magical threats....threats like Johnny herself, he jumped at the chance.  

But when Nick catches the AWOL daughter of his boss on TV at Johnny's latest party for her newest invention, he finds himself once more traveling back to Johnny's side to figure out what's going on.  And so Nick winds up on hand when They reappear, attacking both Johnny and himself, forcing the two of them back together once more, on the run from a monstrous force that is seemingly everywhere, and Nick knows that it must be Johnny's fault.  For she is the girl who sacrificed all of his possibilities so that he would love her, so that she could be the genius-savior of the world she always wanted to be, no matter the cost.  

But even if Nick now hates Johnny, he can't rid himself of his attraction to her, and even if this latest invasion might be her own fault....she might also be the only one who can stop it.
Beneath the Rising worked because of the relationship between Nick and Johnny.  I really couldn't care less about the Lovecraftian threat, which never felt that convincing, and Johnny's technobabble about magic and how she could solve it was too magicky and inexplicable to really pique my interest.  But the two of them were great - quippy dialogue that was often nerdy, with Nick being the sane one to Johnny's too smart for her own good but absolutely not street smart self, and Nick dealing with what he believed to be just a one sided crush at the whole time....while also dealing with his responsibilities to his family that Johnny couldn't quite understand.  They worked really well as a duo....and then the book pulled the rug about from under Nick and revealed how underneath it all was a lie - that he never had any choice in the relationship, for Johnny had made him part of her Covenant with the Old Ones: forcing him to be her companion, to love her, no matter what, and removing any complications of other potential friends from his path in the process.  And so he left for her just a moment, causing the deaths of millions, but came back just to help her save the rest of the world....before leaving her for what he thought was for good.  

But Nick can't help loving Johnny, even if he now hates her, and so when fate - his new job plus his self-delusions, really - forces the two of them back together, it creates an uneasy relationship that carries this book as well: once again the two are often quippy just like old times, and yet underlying it all is an unease and distrust: for Nick knows what Johnny did now, knows his feelings are manipulated, and knows Johnny only cares for herself.  And so he is constantly justifying himself, about Johnny is needed to fix whatever is broken, even if he knows in his heart that it must be her fault, and that these feelings aren't quite right.  And he is desperate for an apology from her, some recognition that she knows what she did was wrong.  And because of all the horrors going on around them, all the running and desperate searching for answers, he can't quite force her to give it - and because of his trust being broken, he can't bring himself to trust anyone else either.  Making matters worse of course, is that because Johnny knows Nick is conflicted, she obviously doesn't trust him either.  

It's a strong undercurrent for this book that makes Nick's narrative gripping to read, as a man whose whole purpose and mindset is conflicted and torn by feelings he can't even be sure - and in fact is sure aren't - are really his own choice.  And Nick is right to doubt, as we now can see even more Johnny's selfishness, and all the horrors that's brought.  Still, some of the power of this narrative is undercut by the fact that Nick goes willingly from his family right at the start, and they're never more than at the periphery, so what he is giving up to go on this chase is never quite as prominent as in the first book.  We're no longer dealing with the very real parts of his conflicted mind - him being the caretaker for a not well-off non-White family in America dealing with a rich White girl who doesn't quite understand why he has responsibilities - those parts of the last book are gone, and it's does remove some of the book's resonance.  

More of a problem is the fact that the book is even more driven by technobabble and crazy monsters and scenes and magic and whatnot that never really feels threatening and just feels like it's happening just to happen.  I didn't really care about it, I just wanted to read more of Nick and Johnny and it just took away from it all until again the final act - and even there, there's a ton of technobabble to distract from the strong emotional moments.  The monsters aren't particularly interesting, with them having basically no personality, and the few side characters of prominence have a few interesting moments and then disappear, leaving us only with Johnny and Nick to care about (even as two others follow the leads in the final act, they're just....there).    

And then there's the ending, which.....why.  It's a bit thematically on point sure, and I suspect it's meant to be a cliffhanger for a third book that has yet to be announced (a look at interviews shows one that says the publisher only bought two books, which doesn't help the confusion), but it is absolutely unsatisfying unlike the last book's ending.  Don't get me wrong, it's an ending that does follow through from the characters' personalities - it's just one that left me wondering "is that really it?"  

If there is a third book in this series, I will probably be back to hopefully see if we get more closure.  But either way, this second volume just surrounds the most interesting parts with too much clutter and even if it reads quickly, I just wish it had more faith in the emotional resonance of its characters and cut an awful lot of the dead weight to form a tighter book instead.
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:(( This was one disappointing read, especially after the introduction. 
The writing style, as usual with the author was BEAUTIFUL. Just utterly gorgeous, and i had less issues with dialogue because i was pretty much used to it, its still bad but not as noticeable, and also the mc is not with the love interest in the beginning. 
Im disappointed more because i had my hopes high from how it was going and how his thought process was at the beginning that YESSS he’s finally going to stop acting like his entire world revolves around this other person like a love sick puppy, but no his entire personality becomes her (obviously an exaggeration because there is a very realistic portrayal of a brown character and the family dynamic too which i do appreciate!). Yet how can i ignore the cringey dialogue??? Barely okay plot but ultimately both of these characters just made me annoyed to the point where i lost interest with the book as a whole, i stopped caring for the plot, i stopped caring for the sci-fi elements, it all just became a very unpleasant experience but my mind forced me to keep reading because my mind does not have the ability to dnf. 
And that was my own fault, i know, but since ive read it im so frustrated, at certain times it felt like the character existed simply to check all the boxes of what a brown guy goes through, but take away depth to his character or emotional relevance to these things because he is too obsessed with this other person who honestly is just evil and he acknowledges that but?? Ends up going back to her every time???? Honestly i like her more as a character, i mean look at this, she literally has the power to convert a grown ass adult to follow her blindly excusing every other thing she’s done, so more power to her. Yes i just hate this mc.
Honestly all of this could’ve not been a problem if i’d enjoyed their interactions, but sadly the horrible and terrible dialogue that did NOT improve from the first book, grown ass adults bickering like teenagers and not in a realistic way, because ofcourse adults can bicker too?? But this banter felt like it belonged to preteens???   And I absolutely detested it.
I don’t think id recommend this to anyone :((. Note: i got an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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A Broken Darkness Review

A Broken Darkness is the second book in the Beneath the Rising series. I want to note that I did read book 1, and for a while I wondered if that was a mistake. Ultimately, A Broken Darkness faltered for me all on its own, but understanding some of the issues I had with the first book informs some of my reasons for having issues with book 2.
Early on, there’s a factual inconsistency between books 1 and 2. The first time it was mentioned, I bit my tongue. I was reading an ARC and it’s possible the mistake was corrected. However, the mistake was reiterated in the text a second time. Ironically, it wasn’t even critical information for the context of the current story, but knowing there was a factual inconsistency made it harder for me to ignore my feelings that some other components of the story weren’t consistent, either. However, since a lot of those thoughts center on the epilogue from book 1, I won’t address them further to prevent spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read that book. 
Both books are from Nick’s perspective. In book 1, this allows the author to withhold a lot of information from the readers. We’re never inside the technology or the magic or the thought processes of the little blonde genius who’s the only one who can save the day. Ultimately, in book 1 I found it incredibly frustrating that Nick just followed along like a lovesick puppy dog and had no agency in the story. As it turned out, he had no real agency in his life, which is something that becomes apparent at the end of book 1.
Readers are supposed to believe he’s so enraged by the revelations at the end of book 1 that he walks off and leaves Johnny to fight the monsters on her own, risking the world and all the people who dwell in it. We’re supposed to believe that he hates her so much, he’s joined the Ssarati. Book 2 picks up about 1.5 years after the Anomaly, and he hasn’t seen Johnny in 15 months (per book 1, since the Halloween following the Anomaly and Nick’s now tracking Johnny down in February). On a technical note, book 2 keeps referring to the events of book 1 taking place two years prior to the events in book 2, but this can’t be the case because book 1 refers to Nick having “only been, technically, an adult for three fucking months!” (p156) and in book 2 Nick’s referred to as a teenager, to which he responds, “Only till May.” (97%). Since the events of book 1 occurred in July, well … It’s been 19 months between books 1 and 2. The book description gets it right, but the book text is inaccurate.
That may sound nitpicky, but I think it’s relevant because it affects how much time Nick’s had to learn independently from Johnny, and how much time Johnny’s had to engage in her activities apart from Nick.
I was actually excited by the fact that Nick was supposed to hate Johnny now, because I thought we’d see Nick really stand on his own in book 2 in a way he hadn’t in book 1. I wanted his character arc to be more than lovesick puppy dog follows little blonde girl without question - realizes she’s an absolutely awful human being - mopes for a while - goes back to her but claims he doesn’t like her. I wanted Nick to grow up and maybe find some sparks of happiness on his own and actually be his own person or discover that he could also save the world.
Book 2 starts with that promise, but Nick quickly falls into old patterns. It isn’t long before he’s back to being Johnny’s number one sidekick as he tries to figure out the truth about what’s going on and spy on her. Or so we think. But is he really? Or will the two of them finishing each other’s sentences and indulging their inside jokes cause him to lose sight of his objectives?
From my perspective, the inside jokes aren’t always as clever as some might think. They may thrill people who get all the references, but if you don’t you’re just out in the cold or confused half the time. And one of the challenges of using movie references to provide description is that they only work for people who’ve seen the movie. I get it’s reasonable Nick would think about everyday things, like movies. It’s just a shame that 19 months later, working for the Ssarati, he isn’t more observant himself so he can put things into words for us. So much of the description—for places and action sequences—is jumbled in a way that leaves a lot of the details unclear. This was one of my complaints with book 1 that continued with book 2. I didn’t feel the action sequences were written in a clear or compelling way. Much of the time I just felt like a blur of something had happened, but I wasn’t sure exactly what. Since I’ve been to Carthage, I was probably looking for more from the description, and I never felt anchored in that setting in book 1. One of the settings for book 2 is Edinburgh, another place I’ve been, and again, I was looking for more than the text provided. 
Whatever quibbles I had about the action sequences and setting descriptions, it’s impossible to convey why this book bothered me so much without addressing the character of Johnny because she’s at the heart of my biggest issues. 
I didn’t find her endearing in book 1, but I viewed her as a stereotypical geeky smart girl who lives in her own head and isn’t great at expressing herself. That was until the revelations at the end of the book. Book 1 benefited, for me, by the fact that I didn’t spend the entire book completely loathing her.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for book 2. I despised Johnny from the start. Who and what she is has been made plain, and there’s no way to unring that bell. Consequently, every moment Nick spends with her—which is most of book 2—is frustrating. And here we are again, with the end of the world imminent, and there’s only one person who can save humanity.
The little blonde white girl.
While I think the author may have intended to subvert the white savior trope to some degree by making Johnny contemptible, nothing changes the fact that the book establishes a magic structure that leaves Johnny as the only person who can save the world. Without the little blonde white girl, the world will end and everyone will die. She may be a necessary evil, but she’s still necessary, and all the people who aren’t white in this story—including Nick and Sofia—aren’t. If Nick wasn’t the POV character he’d be completely dispensable.
And that’s tragic and problematic.
I held out hope for so long. Hope that Nick would kick blondie to the curb and find a way to deal with things on his own. Hope that by the end of book 2 someone would bludgeon Johnny to death with a cricket bat so I could look forward to a book 3 without her in it. I really wanted to see Nick stand on his own two feet and show us what he could do. Because Nick isn’t anywhere near as dumb or incapable as his so-called friend makes him out to be.
And that’s a big part of my Johnny hate. She treats Nick like he’s dog crap she’s trying to scrape off her shoe, but she’s scraping it into a bag so she can carry it with her and pummel it occasionally because she’s nothing if she’s not acting like a complete and total bitch to someone.
There was a scene in book 1 that really bugged me. Nick’s missed Canada Day with the family, and his mom is ripping him a new one, going on about how she had to cancel her plans and stay with the kids because he’s so selfish.
And I was so over that in a second. Nick is the oldest of 4 siblings, and not by a year or two. By several years. His dad left the family, so Mom’s a single mom. And Nick isn’t going to college so he can work and help provide for his family and he spends a lot of time caring for his siblings. This should illustrate for us how responsible Nick is, but that doesn’t stop him from jeopardizing his job and being utterly irresponsible just to follow Johnny around and carry bags for her later. And in book 2, he knows going anywhere near Johnny is a risk and still leaves to do it. Sure, he tells himself the world’s going to end, but since he’s regarded as unnecessary and Johnny’s the one with the magic who can set things right, why does he need to be there? Simply, he doesn’t. He doesn’t need to go with her at all. We can forgive book 1 because of what we learn at the end, but in book 2? It was a choice.
Going back to that scene with his mom, I felt like his mom was completely unreasonable, because it isn’t Nick’s fault Dad’s a stereotypical deadbeat and teenagers aren’t responsible for raising their siblings. He had one friend at that point—Johnny—and he was attacked for that friendship as well. In the same way that Johnny wanted to control Nick and keep him away from everyone else, Nick’s Mom did, too. And on that front, I really wanted Nick to step away from all of them, because he needs to do that to mature. While it’s appealing to think of a young man who loves his siblings and cares for them, it was unrealistic to me that Nick just up and left and trusted the Ssarati to look after his family in his absence, while he continues lying to his family about where he’s going and what he’s doing. The distrust has already formed a wedge between him and his mother and his sister, and that’s only going to get worse. The fact that he never told his mom the truth and kept Johnny’s secret all that time further underscores the fact that he’s still loyal to Johnny, despite his claims that he hates her. I mean, just read the epilogue from book 1. He doesn’t act like he hates her at all. 
A lot of the specific events that really irritated me with book 2 came near the end. I’m not going to delve into spoilers here (see spoiler tag below if interested) but I will say this. I put the book down with 1% left to go and thought about DNFing. I was so angry by something that happened I seriously considered walking away. After venting to someone for about 30 minutes, I finished the book, and I can’t honestly say I’m happy I did. Thanks to the conclusion—such as it is—I have to add a trigger warning to this review. 
Ultimately, this book started off with starred review potential but was soon mired in the issues from book 1, with a protagonist with no meaningful growth arc who follows a girl around like a puppy while the world falls apart. I had issues with book 1 but enjoyed it enough to have hope book 2 would work out some of the kinks and deliver. Unfortunately, it compounded my complaints about book 1 and added new issues, and I will not continue with this series. I’m just not up for a third edition of the blonde girl saving the world, and Nick being dumb enough to trust her. 

Content Warning: suicidal ideation

Spoiler Warning:
At the end of book 2, Johnny tells Nick she lied. She hadn’t been honest with him about her plans, which means it’s hard to know what parts of the text were accurate and which were deceit. While Johnny may have been a horrific person who kept secrets from Nick for years, her lies in book 1 were lies of omission. In book 2, she’s changed. She’s now actively choosing to lie. While she isn’t a narrator, it’s the literary equivalent of getting to the end of season 9 of Dallas and finding out it was all a dream. Basically, everything that came from Johnny was written on a white board and it’s all been wiped away, so book 3 won’t have to pick up with those plans at all. It felt like cheating.
This book also ends on a cliffhanger, without resolution.
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I should not have read this book in a dark room at midnight. Mohamed's whirlwind of a sequel has everything I loved about the first book, with cosmic horror and toxic friendships and impossible odds. And did I mention horror?

As always, Mohamed's writing is quick and sharp, with twists upon twists that made it impossible to stop reading. I loved all the new elements introduced in this book and the way we get to see Nick grapple with the events that ended Beneath the Rising. My favorite part of this series is the cosmic horror, and A Broken Darkness had that in spades, taking Them to a whole new level of disturbing. I also liked Johnny's development and the way the narrative handled her actions.

I was disappointed to see Nick slotting right back into the "Johnny's sidekick" role that he had thrown off in the last book. The changes were acknowledged, but at times it felt like nothing had changed at all, and even when he was essential to the plot he needed her help to move forward. I really wanted to see him shine by himself in this book but I don't recall him spending more than a few pages away from Johnny. 

I docked a star for that con because it was one of the things I was looking forward to the most in the sequel, but overall, I really enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down. If you liked the first book, I'll bet you'll like A Broken Darkness too.

I received an advance e-copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
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This should be right up my street. It’s a contemporary take on Lovecraftian cosmic horror, with guest appearances from our old friends Nyarlothotep and Azagthoth. There’s some convincing evocations of those weird and eldritch dimensions just beneath our own, and epic battles against crawling tentacled horrors. The book also has interesting things to say about colonialism and empire, allied to Indiana Jones style globetrotting and adventure. So why aren’t there five stars at the top of this review? 

It’s the lead characters, I’m afraid. One of them is just an awful awful person, and the other trails round after them like a little puppy dog (I know this is explained in the previous book, but that’s not really followed through in this one, and the revelation hasn’t made a great deal of practical difference to their relationship). To make matters worse, while they are capable of talking to other characters like adults, the conversations between the two of them are smug self important banter full of lame humour and smart arsed oneupmanship that’s more suited to minor showboating on Twitter than it is facing down alien threats to our very existence. It deflates any tension that’s building, and frankly makes me want to punch the pair of them. It’s probably just me. If you like Joss Whedonesque clever clever dialogue, and let’s face it a lot of people do, you might well find it charming and fall in love with them, but it didn’t work for me. It’s unfortunate that the thing I didn’t like is front and centre, because there’s an awful lot otherwise that is good here, and I’ll look out for more by this author.
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I was unable to download this book to my Kindle due to technical difficulties so I’m unable to leave a review, but I would like to read the 1st book and this book in this series. I left five stars because I was required to leave a rating.
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Very well developed characters and an extremely engaging story. Well thought out and very suspenseful story line that keeps the reader  guessing until the final twist! This is the book to read this year! Highly recommended!
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