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Here's my review of Better Part of Darkness (from 7/12/09)
Divorced mother of one, Charlie Madigan, lives in a world where the beings of heaven and hell exist among us, and they aren't the things of Sunday school lessons and Hallmark figurines. In the years since the Revelation, they've become our co-workers, neighbors, and fellow citizens.
Charlie works for ITF (Integration Task Force). It's her job to see that the continued integration of our new "friends" goes smoothly and everyone obeys the law, but when a new off-world drug is released in Underground Atlanta, her daughter is targeted, and her ex-husband makes a fateful bargain to win her back, there's nothing in heaven or earth (or hell for that matter) that Charlie won't do to set things right.So I've read a lot of urban fantasy with the kick-ass heroine, but what I liked most about Charlie Madigan as a character was that though she fit that mold, but she was also different and unique. Throughout The Better Part of Darkness, Charlie has a tough exterior as a result of numerous different experiences she's undergone - a few of those are reasons she became a cop, a few of them result from her career choice - but she also has a lot of real fears and insecurities. A few times, when everything appears as if it's falling apart and she knows she has to be strong, she still breaks down and loses it before picking herself back up again.
Another unique thing about Charlie is that she's a mother. Pregnant and married at 19, Charlie's now the divorced, single mom of a 12 year old, and she takes that seriously - even more seriously than her job as a cop. I can't think of any urban fantasy that I've read where the tough as nails female protagonist had a kid, and it's a realistic portrayal of a single mother who's also a cop. She's desperately trying to balance the needs of her job - fighting bad guys and saving the world - with the needs of (and promises she makes to) her daughter. And her daughter, Emma, is always in the back of her mind.
The other characters in the novel also have distinct personalities. Will, Charlie's ex husband, has definitely made his share of mistakes, and even though I was annoyed with him at times, I also felt sorry for him too. (Can't go into it more without giving something away.) Charlie's partner and also a siren, Hank, is funny, charismatic, and definitely a guy I could fall in love with during the span of several books. (One thing I particularly enjoyed about the minor characters was that while there were plenty of hot guys Charlie had to work with, they weren't all in love with her, and they weren't all potential love interests - which tends to happen in this genre.)
The plot is packed with action - so it moves quickly even though there is a lot going on. The "world" Kelly Gay has created draws upon Greek mythology with a twist giving the urban fantasy genre a whole new set of paranormal beings, rather than relying on the typical vampire and werewolf varieties, and it holds up against scrutiny. There are still a few of the paranormal "species" that I don't have quite a clear image of in my mind, but I also have to admit that I was reading fast because I was in page-turning mode and dying to know what was going to happen next.
Fans of Kim Harrison's The Hollows series (Dead Witch Walking) and Vicki Pettersson's Signs of the Zodiac Series (The Scent of Shadows) will love The Better Part of Darkness.
Check out Kelly's website here or visit her blog.