Sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock’s hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer’s eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her and brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed, otherwise, the entire Otherworld civilization will perish.
Innocent Darkness is a young love story but also somewhat of a girls struggle to be true to herself and who she is, even in the face of society’s rules and expectations. (Though admittedly I still think it was mostly just a love story.) A major fail point for me was that I really thought there would be more of a steampunk element to this story, but there really wasn’t at all. Aside from the mention of airships, a few gadgets here and there, as well as Noli’s tendency to tinker and fix things – I really would not consider this a steampunk book. I’d consider it a fey romance. Though I loved the cover, it didn’t match this story at all, it gives you the completely wrong expectation of getting more steampunk than you actually do.
The story had many of the essential elements to engage the reader and pull them into the story. An interesting setting, a rebellious character with believable flaws, a major struggle (heck there were a few), a villain you’d love to hate, and a love interest(s). However, for various reasons it failed to completely deliver for me a well rounded reading experience.
Noli, our heroine, is a rebellious young girl who doesn’t want to be a “lady” and is constantly getting into trouble. One day she gets into quite a bit of trouble and its literally the straw that broke the camel’s back, or a plummeting air car that broke the fence *chuckles*. Her mother has no choice but to send her off to a reform boarding school. More like an abusive insane asylum if you ask me.
Personally, while reading the first chunk of the book, there were some elements that reminded me a lot of the story The Little Princess. Noli is a young girl, her father is missing, she is sent off to a boarding school, she has a precious necklace given to her, all of her belongings are taken away at the school where a wicked school mistress rules over all the girls with an iron fist. The girls are not only mentally abused but physically as well – all in the name of reform and turning them into ‘ladies’.
I actually found Noli’s time at the school to be the most interesting part of the story. When the fey element comes heavily into play and she leaves the mortal world things become a bit monotonous and predictable to me. After she ends up in the fey world I feel as if I knew everything that was going to happen right up to the end.
There were quite a few times during the course of the story where Noli’s actions just don’t fit with what I pictured for her character. She was so naive in a lot of her actions and for a person who didn’t want to be the dimwitted and empty lady she sure played the part during the time she spent with Kevighn in his cabin. In fact, I don’t feel like I really got to know Noli’s character/personality enough to really come to care enough about her, nor grow really attached to her. By the end I felt like I knew more about Kevighn then we do about Noli.
I was and am disappointed in the likely love triangle that is building with her in the middle. Also, how she ends up not having to be the sacrifice was just way too obvious and convenient for my tastes. Overall, I’d say this was a quick enjoyable read, but I feel like there could have been more meat to the story and less fluff.
Tabitha the Pabkins
*Review Copy provided by Publisher for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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