Innocent Darkness (Aether Chronicles Series #1)

( 16 )

Overview

A hoverboard appeared in her rearview mirror. “This is the Los Angeles Air Patrol,” a voice boomed. “I command you to land your vehicle in the name of the law.”

Noli Braddock and her best friend V’s incident with a flying auto have landed them in a heap of trouble. And when Noli is sent to a spirit-squelching reform school in San Francisco, she’s sure that her rebellious adventures are over.

Meanwhile, Kevighn Silver has been ordered by the ...

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Innocent Darkness

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Overview

A hoverboard appeared in her rearview mirror. “This is the Los Angeles Air Patrol,” a voice boomed. “I command you to land your vehicle in the name of the law.”

Noli Braddock and her best friend V’s incident with a flying auto have landed them in a heap of trouble. And when Noli is sent to a spirit-squelching reform school in San Francisco, she’s sure that her rebellious adventures are over.

Meanwhile, Kevighn Silver has been ordered by the Faerie Queen to bring a mortal girl back to the Otherworld. The magic requires a blood sacrifice every seven years, and only a mortal girl who shines with the Spark—a girl like Noli—will keep the Otherworld from complete destruction.

When an ill-timed wish sends Noli tumbling into the Otherworld, she’s more homesick than ever . . . until V arrives to save her from an untimely demise. But who exactly is V? And if he helps Noli escape, who will save the realm of Faerie from utter annihilation?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Lazear’s debut novel, partly set in an alternate 1901 California, the author presents a world and a heroine animated by the can-do spirit that typifies the steampunk genre. The independent streak that lands 16-year-old Magnolia “Noli” Braddock in a draconian reform school (after she crashes a flying car) also attracts Kevighn Silver, huntsman to the faery high queen. He’s searching the mortal realm for a girl with “the Spark” to save the faery Otherworld from fading away forever. Desperate to escape the terrible Findlay House, Noli unwittingly transports herself to the Otherworld and into Kevighn’s clutches. It’s up to her natural smarts—and her best friend V (who has secrets of his own)—to keep her alive. In addition to creating an intriguing world and cast, Lazear weaves real substance into her story. The characters wrestle with the ethics of the situation, which boil down to the life of one girl weighed against those of an entire race, and their roles in it. This first book in the Aether Chronicles has style and substance to spare. Ages 15–up. Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency. (Aug.)¦
VOYA - Stephanie Petruso
Lazear's debut, Innocent Darkness, is the first entry in steampunk-fairytale series, The Aether Chronicles. In 1901 L.A., Noli Braddock constantly gets into trouble for doing unladylike things, like tinkering with mechanics and flying airships without a license. After one airship crash too many, she is sent to a reform school for young ladies in San Francisco, even while her male best friend, V, goes unpunished. The school beats and medicates the spirit out of young women, with unsettling focus on curbing "urges." Noli is miserable; her only friend is free-spirited Charlotte. The girls are unknowingly the focus of Kevighn, who came from the Otherworld to find a girl with "Spark." Kevighn will take the girl to the Otherworld and shower her with her every desire before she is sacrificed to the land. This sacrifice keeps the Otherworld and its inhabitants from disappearing forever. Before Kevighn can take them, Charlotte is expelled, leaving Noli alone. She wishes to be anywhere else and lands in the Otherworld. Noli is distrustful of Kevighn, who promises to return her home but never does. She learns that her friend V is in exile from the Otherworld, and he returns to save her life. Steampunk themes are only found at the very beginning of Innocent Darkness, so steampunk fans may be disappointed. It is more a combination of Francesca Lia Block and Alice in Wonderland, and may appeal to teens looking for fairy stories. Sexual abuse and drugs are casually introduced and then glossed over, which chips away at the believability of the characters. This is a good choice only for public libraries with a very large fantasy readership. Reviewer: Stephanie Petruso
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—This steampunk fantasy opens with 16-year-old Annabelle being pursued by evil Queen Tiana's faery huntsman Kevighn in 1895. She drowns herself rather than serve as a blood sacrifice to perpetuate the Otherworld's magic. Fast forward to 1901 Los Angeles, where 16-year-old Magnolia Braddock and her friend Steven "V" Darrow test drive and crash her missing father's flying Pixymobile, resulting in Noli's being sent to a cruel boarding school. A wish uttered one Midsummer night transports her to the Otherworld, where Kevighn tries to lure her into being Annabelle's replacement once he recognizes that she has the "Spark." V and his brother, who are actually exiles from the Otherworld who rejected their mother, Queen Tiana, and her insatiable lust for power, come to her rescue. Lazear's details of early-20th-century life ground her story in its historical time, even as the tale blends together different genres. Noli is a well-developed protagonist, and her friends Charlotte and "V" and antagonist Kevighn are interesting secondary characters. The novel is filled with fanciful words (e.g., "hoyden," dollymop," "bodger") and sexual episodes and references. Though the story moves at a good pace, it often adds unnecessary complications, and the all's-well-that-end's-well ending is predictable. Unfortunately, the book promises more than it delivers and ends up being little more than an excuse for the sequels it will spawn. Libraries should opt for proven gems such as Cassandra Clare's "Mortal Instruments" series (S & S).—Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
Kirkus Reviews
A good concept suffers from poor execution in this steampunk fairy tale. Noli lives in 1901 Los Angeles, in an alternative Victorian era that allows for steam-powered flying cars and airships, in keeping with steampunk conventions. Caught flying a car without a license, she's sent to a school in San Francisco that turns out to discipline its students with torture, including waterboarding. There she finds a fairy garden with an old oak tree and inadvertently wishes herself into fairyland. But danger lurks there, too. The fairies need to find a mortal with the "spark" to sacrifice every seven years, or their world will die. Noli fits the bill. Fortunately her best friend turns out to be a fairy prince determined to save her. Noli loves V, the prince, but she's also attracted to Kevighn, the huntsman. Frequent redundancies and awkward phrasing, coupled with poor transitions, make the prose difficult to follow. Despite the life-or-death dilemma (solved through an absurd coincidence) in fairyland, the narrative flounders, focusing on Noli's constant indecision between her two lovers (never mind that she firmly decides several times). Lazear emphasizes the difficulties women had in Victorian times quite well, but despite corsets worn on the outside, the clever steampunk angle disappears early. Sadism in the school and torrid if clothed scenes that border on soft porn in the fairyland power much of the narrative. Here's hoping for more punk and less steam in the planned sequels. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738732480
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 8/8/2012
  • Series: Aether Chronicles Series , #1
  • Pages: 408
  • Sales rank: 288,888
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series for young adult. In addition to writing for teens, Lazear gives presentations on the steampunk subgenre at conferences nationwide—resplendently attired in all the bustles and whistles. She is a regular contributor to the steampunk-themed blog, Steamed!, and is an active member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the young adult debut author groups the Apocalypsies and the Class of 2k12. Lazear has her master's degree in public policy from Pepperdine University. She lives with her family in Los Angeles.

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Read an Excerpt

Open publication - Free publishing - More faerie

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 11, 2012

    The premise of Innocent Darkness had me very excited. The idea

    The premise of Innocent Darkness had me very excited. The idea of mixing steampunk with the world of faeries is fantastic, and the book started out very strongly . Unfortunately my interest in it faded a bit as the book progressed. Early in the story there was a lot of the technology that seems familiar in the steampunk genre. The deeper I got into the book though the more that faded and romance took over the story. While that is not a bad thing, it really does not work for me personally.

    The characters weren't bad and Noli's neighbor was probably my favorite. The way the realm of the Fairie were linked was an interesting twist that added a unique level to the book. Overall there were a lot of positives to the book just not enough to overcome the romance angle for me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 14, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Start of a Stellar New Series
    A hoverboard appeared

    Start of a Stellar New Series

    <blockquote>A hoverboard appeared in her rearview mirror. &quot;This is the Los Angeles Air Patrol,&quot; a voice boomed. &quot;I command you to land your vehicle in the name of the law.&quot;

    Noli Braddock and her best friend V's incident with a flying auto have landed them in a heap of trouble. And when Noli is sent to a spirit-squelching reform school in San Francisco, she's sure that her rebellious adventures are over.

    Meanwhile, Kevighn Silver has been ordered by the Faerie Queen to bring a mortal girl back to the Otherworld. The magic requires a blood sacrifice every seven years, and only a mortal girl who shines with the Spark--a girl like Noli--will keep the Otherworld from complete destruction.

    When an ill-timed wish sends Noli tumbling into the Otherworld, she's more homesick than ever . . . until V arrives to save her from an untimely demise. But who exactly is V? And if he helps Noli escape, who will save the realm of Faerie from utter annihilation?</blockquote>



    An exhilarating romp with an intriguing cast, set in an era crafted from a jumbled collection of various periods of time, combined with a dash fantasy, and all blended together to create an exceptionally unique era, this book is clearly the beginning of an fantastic journey through an uninhibited world of wild imagination. The year is 1901, but it certainly doesn't match the 1901 of our history. Women are still subjugated, with proper ladies working on their cross stitching, serving tea, and never read anything more mentally stimulating than <strong>Harpers</strong>
    or <strong>Godey's</strong>
    . Much of their time is spent discussing the latest fashions and other inane prattle, especially those in the upper class. Classism still runs rampant, women still wear corsets, and yet they also have technology such as hoverboards and flying cars. Though of course women aren't allowed to pilot them.

    In this social mess, where vapid women are prized, young Miss Magnolia Braddock is considered to be something of a hoyden. Magnolia's upperclass family has fallen upon hard times since her father and his entire structural engineering team disappeared following the great quake in San Francisco. Known as Noli to her mother, older brother Jeff, and best friend/next door neighbor V, she is a young lady who refuses to follow societal conventions. Her Spark that makes her so unique is also what helps get her into her current troubles, unbeknownst to her.  

    Noli is the opposite of what a young woman should be, as she thinks for herself, is as educated as she can get away with, and is more than willing to roll up her sleeves and get dirty doing what she loves best. Her dream is to someday go to university and study botany, but in the meantime she also tinkers with machines. One such project is to restore the Pixy, an old flying automobile her father had planned to fix up, prior to his disappearance. A project that taught her a lot about how mechanical things worked. Had she never restored the Pixy she and V most likely would never have landed in the mess they were currently in.

    The two friends she has are also unconventional. V is her next door neighbor and partner in crime, always taking the blame for whatever scrapes they got into, as well as admiring her from afar. For though he may spend as much time as possible with her he never confesses to his true feelings for her. Charlotte is Noli's lifeline, another labeled young woman who is unashamedly a triangle in a society full of square pegs. She refuses to submit and be remade to fit everyone's expectations of a proper young lady.

    When Noli ends up in Faery, or the Otherworld as they call it, her guide just happens to be Kevighn Silver. The very Fae whose job it is to locate a mortal young woman not only on the cusp of full-blown womanhood, but more importantly one who possesses the Spark. The Spark, that undefinable something which will appease the land for the next seven years. Something went awry at the last offering and now all of Faery is suffering, and even the mundane humans are suffering, though they've yet to notice the changes yet. 

    But things in the Otherworld are not always as they seem. Even the people, or Fae, are not always as they seem. Each character has their own troubles to attend to, and there are many, many surprises along the way. Will V and Noli be able to escape, or is she fated to become the next sacrifice? Noli struggles with the idea that she could yield her life to save hundreds, if not thousands of lives, or she could be selfish and want to escape regardless of the cost to all those depending upon the magic for their very lives. Several of those lives that hang in the balance have become her friends, even in the relatively short amount of time she's been there. Can V figure out a way to rescue Noli? Can Kevighn get to Noli in time? So many questions that demand answers, both internal and external. Thankfully this is part of a series, given all the cliffhangers at the end!

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  • Posted June 30, 2014

    This book starts out amazing. The middle part is a little less k

    This book starts out amazing. The middle part is a little less kick-ass awesome, but it picks up again toward the end. Faeries are awesome, and I loved reading about the Otherworld civilization. Great worldbuilding and writing too. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted June 26, 2013

    I purchased INNOCENT DARKNESS months ago after meeting the autho

    I purchased INNOCENT DARKNESS months ago after meeting the author, but didn't start reading until I saw its sequel available on Netgalley.  Upon first picking up the novel, I thought that it would be a seamless blend of fairy and steampunk, however after the first couple of chapters there is nearly nothing steampunk about the novel.  There's a mention of a robotic dog, but the rest of the steampunk elements vanish.  It's ironic that the steampunk setting felt magical and the fairy realm lacked inspiration.  Its like comparing a Mercedes to a Hyundai.  Once you dug beneath the mentions of fairies and portals, there was nothing else.  There's no mention of any of the fairy folk actively using magic and there was zero descriptions on anything other than people.  The author spent too much time describing attire and not enough time detailing how exactly the Otherworld functions.  




    The characters were shadows of their potential - one dimensional and constrained by their individual purposes in the plot  - and what resulted was a formulatic feel for a potentially great story.  And poor Charlotte.  She had the potential to be my favorite character, but then the author molested all her hopes and dreams - well, unless the author pulls some magic undo button in book two, which would make me quite literally throw my ereader.  There was an interested twist with the bargain struck at the end, but everything else was easy to predict.  It felt like the author made a story outline and forced her characters to do exactly what she wanted to, instead of letting them guide the story.  Much of the pieces to the plot puzzle are redundantly mentioned and/or overexplained.  The medallion/necklace Noli wears must be mentioned (no joke) a hundred times and on top of that the other characters have &quot;suspicions&quot; of its importance.  Yeah, I figured out in chapter two that it was important.




    I'm left with too many unanswered questions that arise very early in the story:  Why was there so much emphasis on Noli's father dissapearing in the beginning and none in the middle or end of the book?  Why is being marked &quot;unmarriageable&quot; the worst thing possible?  What is the Officer's true motive for sending her to this particular school?  Why is the headmistress so bitter and hates children?  Why doesn't Charlotte ever try to run away?




    Despite all its faults, this is not a one star book.  Not once did I feel like not finishing and in fact I do still retain some excitement for the sequel.  Although, I think the author managed quite an accomplishment by making her climatic action scenes more anti-climatic than those in the Twilight series.  (2 stars)




     




    (I purchased a copy of this book from my local indie bookstore.)

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  • Posted June 11, 2013

    Innocent Darkness was an excellent start to my summer reading. S

    Innocent Darkness was an excellent start to my summer reading. Sometimes I will read a book, and think, wow, this is exactly what I have been looking for. This is one of those cases. I devoured Innocent Darkness, and I am very excited to see more of this series in the near future.

    The way that the novel is set-up, the plot is told in three different parts, all of which are connected and referenced. The first part involves the majority of the steampunk, a genre that I recently discovered and fell in love with, and it is done well. A steampunk Los Angeles and San Francisco with hoverboards, flying automobiles and something called air pilots? You had me at steampunk. A great beginning to the story. The second part is more of a Victorian asylum-style finishing school. The positive aspects of this change involve the absolutely brilliant writing of this portion, the darker style that I could not get enough of, and the fact that it is more of a Victorian asylum-style finishing school. How awesome is that? (Not that waterboarding and torturing is awesome, but when you are reading about it...) The third plot portion brings in the faerie world, which also assured excellent writing, steamy romance, and constant page-turning events. The three separate styled plot parts worked well in the way that all three are some of my favorite styles, and the writing was excellent in all of them. The only thing that I did not enjoy as much as that certain aspects that I loved of the book were forgotten. I would have liked to see more steampunk throughout the novel, or even more of the air pilots, since I quite like that idea. Although beautiful, I think the cover can be a bit misleading in this case.

    Still, I can't complain too much, since aside from that, I absolutely loved Innocent Darkness. Noli is a great protagonist, you can really see the spark in her, and that makes her all the more connectable. Kevighn is actually a great character, and Lazear does a good job in making the reader like him even when feeling they shouldn't. I did enjoy V in the beginning, and toward the end I still do, although I feel that some of the decisions that he made did not really match how he is described and shown in the start.

    I was a little disappointed at the ending, as I felt that it led to one of those of-course moments, but I was still satisfied, and I feel that upon continuing the series, good can be made out of those plot decisions. All in all, I feel that Innocent Darkness had a lot of potential from the start, and is a very enjoyable read. The novel kept my interest the entire way through, and I will definitely continue with the series. Would recommend to those who like fantasy, romance, and some steampunk.

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  • Posted June 11, 2013

    I have had this book sitting on my shelf since last autumn and

    I have had this book sitting on my shelf since last autumn and have been letting it loiter around collecting dust for months. I confess that the reason was greatly due to another steampunk I read and didn’t enjoy very much. I don’t have a lot of experience with the genre (this is the second one I’ve tried), so I wasn’t sure if it was just that book or not. Turns out, it was just that book. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one and I plan to pre-order the sequel!

    The plot:

    I thought this was an interesting, fascinating story and it may just be my affinity for faeries, but I had so, so much fun reading this! I did not see most of the twists coming and the suspense was more than adequate to keep me on the edge of my seating dying to know what would happen next!

    The characters:

    Noli is an intelligent, curious girl who is strong without being rebellious or snotty. While she has a brilliant mind and an active imagination, her curiosity can still get her into trouble. She is a loving daughter and a loyal sister in spite of everything and I found her to be both relatable and engaging as an MC.

    There is a love triangle in this story. Normally, that would be a turn-off point for me, but Ms. Lazear has achieved the impossible—she has written a good love triangle. That is to say it was neither cheesy nor cliché and I am highly impressed. This is perhaps the fourth love triangle I have read which I consider to be done well (two were by the same author in the same series and neither ever got past a kiss, so do they still count?).

    V was one corner of the love triangle. Young, dutiful, a good son, a loyal friend, an honest worker, wants only what’s best for Noli and his people—unfortunately, those two things may be exact opposites. I cared very deeply for V and liked how he understood and loved Noli for who she was. He was smart, kind-hearted, and everything a girl should want.

    Kevighn Silver is the other corner of the love triangle. The High Queen’s huntsman, he is a smooth talker who lies as easily as breathing and has a proclivity for opium and scarlet women. He has as many vices as anyone and the attention span of a rabbit when it comes to the opposite sex. But under it all, he has a tragic past and the remnants of a conscience.

    Now would you like to know which team I am on? Well, I’m ashamed to say I’m on Team Kevighn. Why? Good question. An excellent question in fact. I’m not really sure. It’s not as if I’m a fan of the “bad boy” archetype. I think it’s something to do with the way he talks about his sister and the way he tried to protect her and the way he seems to be hiding a lot of pain behind that chevalier exterior. That is not to say that I think Noli should have chosen him in this book—far from it. I am just hoping that the bloke gets his act together and works through his plethora of “issues” so that he and Noli can be together in three books or so.

    This is a wonderful story and I recommend it to 14+ YA readers and lovers of steampunk and fantasy. Suzanne Lazear has created a wonderful world and I can’t wait to return to it in Charmed Vengeance coming in August!

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  • Posted November 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Steampunk and faeries! That's actually something I've been think

    Steampunk and faeries! That's actually something I've been thinking about for a Halloween costume. The cover is gorgeous, and I love fantasy. The story got better when I was introduced to Noli. She's a modern woman in a time when society is just starting to let women take on more roles, but it hasn't fully recognized them. It works really well with the steampunk and faerie angle in bringing together the modern and the old.

    Yes, there are a lot of strong, independent females leads in YA literature nowadays, but Noli has intelligence. When she's taken to the Otherworld, she doesn't get distracted from her desire to return home, and she asks intelligent questions that force the truth out of those who try to deceive her. She also chooses the right guy. Because of her intelligence, I am surprised by what she and V try to do at the end though, despite knowing not to bargain with the fae. She is desperate to go home though, and she really cares about her mother.

    The story is character oriented and develops the plot through the perspectives of Noli, V, and Kevighn. V is the boy next door. He's sweet, kind, and always there for Noli. However, he's hiding a secret from her; as she discovers, some of the stories he's fed her since forever are actually true. I wish his other side was more developed as it comes out rather spontaneously. Towards the end of the story, his personality changes a bit as he quickly settles into his other life. Kevighn is the bad boy, the seducer and woman maker. His personality is also a bit off. First he acts one way and then is something else, and I have no idea when his interest in Noli begins.

    While I do like character-oriented books, Innocent Darkness doesn't fully develop the characters and doesn't pay enough attention to developing the plot. It started fairly strong but quickly fell apart after Noli finds herself in the Otherworld. I will not be reading book two.

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  • Posted August 31, 2012

    Suzanne Lazear debuts with this amazing and unique story of Noli

    Suzanne Lazear debuts with this amazing and unique story of Noli, a girl with too much spunk and spitfire. She lives in an alternate California, ripe with Steampunk gadgets and technology. Sent to a home for girls with &quot;problems&quot;, only to find out that the world is a much different place than she ever expected when she disappears and finds herself in a different world with a mysterious stranger.

    I loved the mixing of Steampunk and Faerie!! Suzanne really captivates you with Noli's story and leaves you hanging at the end, begging for the next in the series! The characters come to life as the twists and turns of this book keep you hooked from start to finish!

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  • Posted August 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Less Steampunk Than Desired

    A steampunk faerie read? Count me in. I love the feel of the cover of this book, but after reading it, it didn’t seem like the perfect fit. Melding steampunk with faeries has got to be hard to do. Steampunk tends to feature a lot of metal object and faeries tend to have that pesky allergy to iron, so Lazear took a big risk with this idea.

    The faerie world is mostly separated from the real world anyways, so not too many issues there. The amount of steampunk in the story was much less than I expected. It felt as if the beginning featured it and then it mostly dropped out of existence when we entered the faeries realm. I wish it would have been a bigger portion of the story as that was what made it the most unique.

    Something that rubbed me the wrong way was the different names – for each character. The main character, Magnolia, is called that sometimes and then Noli the rest of the time. Her friend through most of the book is one name, but then later she only goes by a nickname. Kevighn also has a nickname he is called, and V (who is not to be confused with Kevighn due to the V in his name) has two additional names as well. V’s brother and sister also have multiple names. Ugh. A nickname here or there sure, an alternate name for one – ok…but these were all the largely followed characters in the story. So annoying, that I made sure to write down this fact as I was reading the book – in case I forgot to mention it when it came time to review it. (Oddly enough, this was not something I forgot about.)

    The ending also offered no explanation for the school Noli goes to, nor the violence and perversion that she is dealt out. It didn’t seem like a portion that would be revisited in a future novel, so I don’t really get it. I’m not sold on whether or not I will continue with this series. I think the writing has left me wanting.

    ARC reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.

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  • Posted August 15, 2012

    I really enjoyed it. It was a quick read that I found myself thi

    I really enjoyed it. It was a quick read that I found myself thinking a
    lot about while not reading. I liked Noli's character and V was not your
    typical hot guy but still very likeable. The only reason I didn't give
    it a 5 was because the ending didn't quite meet my expectations but over
    all, I'd recommend it. It's a fun read. :)

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  • Posted August 13, 2012

    When I first heard about this book I was instantly intrigued be


    When I first heard about this book I was instantly intrigued because, as I will admit, I am a little bit addicted to anything Fae. Add a gorgeous cover and synopsis and hey presto! you have a recipe for greatness. Or do you? Well in the case of INNOCENT DARKNESS, it so happens you do!

    Sixteen year old Magnolia Braddock, or Noli, lives at home with her mother. She enjoys tinkering with her brother Jeff's old flying car and has a handsome best friend by the name of Steven Darrow, or 'V' as she calls him. Only thing is, much as Noli enjoys fixing things up and trying to help her mother round the house, it doesn't stop her getting into trouble - and taking out Jeff's old Pixy without a licence, failing to stop for the police and then crashing it into the garden is the last straw. Noli's hoyden ways have landed her well and truly in it this time. Her mother can no longer cope and so Noli is sent to reform school at Findlay House to straighten herself out.

    Her mother may never have sent her there if only she had realised just what awaited Noli behind closed doors. Whether it was the leers from the doctor, the stints she did in the Sensory Deprivation Tank or the times the horrid woman in charge nearly drowned Noli - her mother clearly wouldn't have been happy knowing these things were happening to her daughter. But of course, she'd never find out because the girls weren't allowed outside contact. No phone calls. No letters. No visits. Nothing.

    Noli managed to make one friend within the walls of Findlay, her name was Charlotte. She was in there because her awful Uncle abused her and her mother found out, so she thought that Charlotte would be better where he couldn't get to her.

    One day, the girls are in the little secluded fairy garden when a man looks through the fence and introduces himself. His name is Kevighn Silver. Little do the girls know, Kevighn is the High Queen's Huntsman and
    every 7 years she needs him to find a Sacrifice- this is a young girl who possesses the Spark. He goes out and finds them, seduces them and then the magic binds them and they die in order to replenish the land. This, is what Kevighn has in mind when he sees the girls that day. He knows they both possess the Spark, but will either of them go with him?

    After a particularly bad day at Findlay, Noli finds herself hiding in the tree in the fairy garden. She makes a wish that she was anywhere but there and that is exactly what happens. The tree transports her to the land of the Fae. She hadn't really thought that the tree could transport her anywhere, she was just thinking out loud. She certainly didn't think that she'd end up somewhere she didn't recognise and with Kevighn Silver, of all people. That's what comes with her having made a wish on the Solstice, her wish was granted, just not in any way she could imagine.

    Kevighn convinces her to come back to his home with him. He says he can help her. So she goes with him, but she still doesn't really realise where she is or what's going on. All she knows is she isn't at Findlay any more and she doesn't know how to get home from wherever she is. She has hopes that Kevighn has the knowledge of how to get her home.

    Noli asks Kevighn to help her get home and he does little to try to actually help. He just side-steps her questions and distracts her with trinkets and stories and such. He's hoping that the longer she is there, the magic will come and bind her. But he doesn't tell her the real truth about the Sacrifice, he doesn't want to scare her off. He wants to seduce her with his good looks and charm, then she will be what is needed and the land will be replenished before they all fade away and die..

    But Kevighn didn't know what he was letting himself in for. Noli is not the kind of girl to take things lying down. She's feisty and she wants nothing more than to get home. There are times when he manages to distract her, but she's a girl with her own mind and she knows what she wants.
    Kevighn didn't expect her to be so unlike the other girls. They were easy to distract and came willingly to his bed, thus meaning they give themselves to him and without knowing it, they give themselves to the land and become the much needed sacrifice.

    This is a truly remarkable story that I was head over heels for from the first page. It's fast-paced and well timed. It has fun, it has action and it has two lovely boys who are very hard to choose between. I think I may just be a bit more of an advocate for Kevighn though, but that's in line with my bad-boy addiction.

    I can't, or don't want to believe places like Findlay House would have existed. It struck me right in my heart and my gut when the Doctor puts her through &quot;treatments&quot; - whether she's in the sensory deprivation tank or almost being drowned, it hurts to see and feel Noli in such a dire situation.

    I love all the characters and feel that they are developing at a decent rate, they aren't overly rushed. I think Suzanne Lazear knows exactly what she wants from the characters and how to get them there. Yet I think that somehow, they also play out at their own rate and take Suzanne where they want to go too. It's a delicate balance between the two and I feel she has it just right.

    I enjoyed the story very much, though there were times when Noli had a really rough ride and I was getting upset and frustrated on her behalf because she couldn't see what was coming. I look very much forward to the next book and to seeing where Noli ends up.
    Suzanne has you on the edge all the time. There's moments where you can laugh out loud, moments where you want to strangle someone, moments where you want to cry for Noli and a lot of other things that happen in between. There's stolen moments of intimacy that just add another dimension to the story. Should she just give up on going home and stay with Kevighn? Should she give in to her urges and not care that it means she's a hoyden after all? Should she give up on V or should she wait?? You are kept guessing and questioning things along the way. My heart wanted her to go with Kevighn, my head told me she shouldn't. After all, he is the Huntsman for the High Queen. All that he did for her was out of duty... Wasn't it? Whereas V, he's her best friend, he wouldn't hurt her... would he?

    Suzanne has fast become an author that I really rate and will look forward to reading books from in future. she isn't someone whom you can easily forget because her book packs a mean punch. She's a clever and tricky woman. In fact, I think she's a fairy because you get trapped in her land and can't seem to find an escape. Do I really want to escape is the question I should be asking myself. The answer is, no, I don't think I do!

    As you can probably tell, I loved this story and I am having a hard time shutting up about it. But I'll stop here and just tell you, you need to read this book. If there is any &quot;must-buy&quot; book this year, Innocent Darkness is it!

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  • Posted August 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I have to say that this book was nothing like I expected it to b

    I have to say that this book was nothing like I expected it to be, but that wasn't a bad thing. I think the cover is a bit misleading for those looking for a real steampunk novel as this one is what I'd call &quot;light steampunk.&quot; That's fine for me, I don't think I can get past the intricacies of the machines and just a brief introduction into the steam engines and zeppelins is just fine for me. But if you're expecting hardcore steampunk, this is not the novel for you.

    Why would I recommend this novel? It's utterly it's own fantasy world. It takes the otherworld and turns it on it's ear. Suzanne Lazear only kept a very few things that I've read about faeries in her story. It might as well be a totally different world, and it is really. The courts are air, fire, water and earth joined to a central court but there is still a darke court. You still can't trust a faery. EVER! They need BLOOD SACRIFICES! That's the first time I've read that. And let me tell you, even the nice guys, they admit, they need it. She built an incredibly fascinating otherworld. But first, she built an incredibly fascinating alternate Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    Noli, short for Magnolia is a very strong character. Most of the story is told from her point of view, but not all. She has amazing resilience. She tinkers with a flying car until she finally gets it running only to crash it minutes later and gets hauled into the police station for driving without a license. In this world, early 1900's Los Angeles, women have no rights. Can't drive, vote, but Noli wants to go to University to be a botanist. Socialite women, like they used to be before Noli's father disappeared in the San Francisco earthquakes, never even held jobs. But now, Noli's mother has a dress shop. Noli tends the house and the gardens and tries to keep up the outside of the house. But the machines call to her. When she's sent to reform school for girls, she bears their punishments which are very cruel and unusual, until a particularly brutal night. When she finds herself in the Otherworld, she's very smart about it. She is not a character you'll throw your hands up in frustration about. She is extremely sensible.

    Steven, V., for short is the boy next door, literally. He is a contradiction if there ever was one. He always is cautious with Noli, telling her to behave, remember she can't get in trouble, be careful etc. And unlike Noli's mother who believes Noli is at a nice school for boisterous girls, he knows she's at a terrible school. He worries about her constantly, but he's hiding a huge secret. One that is revealed and when it is....well let's say the steam in this novel doesn't just come from the engines!

    I loved that some of the chapters were from some of the POV of some of the men in the book. There was some small amount of predictability, but that may change. I certainly didn't see the ending happening. My only complaint is that I'll have to wait so long for the next book in the series! There was no big cliff hanger ending, so thanks to Suzanne Lazear for that! This one is definitely one that I'll be eagerly awaiting the sequel to and any little novellas if any come out!

    Recommended for older YA readers due to mature themes.

    Thanks to Flux Publishers and NetGalley for the E-ARC for review. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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  • Posted August 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Innocent Darkness is a fantastic novel. This is the way I like m

    Innocent Darkness is a fantastic novel. This is the way I like my Steampunk: with just enough steam machines and gadgets that I know I'm reading one without it taking over the storyline. I also love fearies, so this was a wonderful addition. Lazear's writing is impressive. I was so intrigued that I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Glued to the pages, I couldn&rsquo;t get enough of these great characters. Noli is the kind of girl main character I really do enjoy. She&rsquo;s strong-willed, confident and with this storyline taking place in 1901 when women aren't allowed much choice in life, she&rsquo;s determined to have independence in a man's world. Lazear has also given me a beautiful romance between Noli and V (Steven) that had my temperature rising.

    Noli is very much her own person, but this is not considered a good thing in 1901 when a young ladies&rsquo; only goal in life is to marry well. Noli wants to work on engines. She wants to go to university and become a botanist, but girls aren't allowed to do this in 1901. Because of her strong-will to have the life she wants, she eventually gets herself into trouble with the police when she's caught test driving her father's flying automobile. Women aren't allowed to drive, so Noli is sent to Findlay reform school for girls to become a proper young lady. She&rsquo;s determine that this place will not break her spirit, but after she is horribly abused and loses the only friend she had there, she feels as if she&rsquo;s loosing this battle of the wills.

    Kevighn Silver, who&rsquo;s also known as Silver Tongue (or Women- Maker), is a faerie huntsman who is from the Otherworld. Kevighn&rsquo;s job is to go and search for special girls like Noli who have what the faerie's call the spark to take them back to the Otherworld. Kevighn hears Noli one night, wishing to get away from Findlay, so he takes her to the Otherworld. Noli soon finds out why the faerie's need girls like her, and she realizes that Findlay wasn't the worst thing that could happen to her.

    V (Steven) is Noli's best friend, but he's not who he pretends to be. When Kevighn takes Noli to the Otherworld, V is the only one who can help her. V and Noli will finally admit their true feelings for each other. And after holding their feelings from each other all this time, they definitely make up for lost time. Noli and V's romance is beautiful, steamy and hot! Women-Maker Kevighn has fallen for Noli, too. It's clear who Noli loves, but I do like Kevighn. Yeah, he's the bad boy faerie, but he had me swooning for him. I mean with a name like silver-tongue and women-maker he is a bad, bad boy and he definitely lives up to his name.

    Innocent Darkness is a wickedly dark faerie novel with a great steampunk theme and romance that is dangerously hot! I recommend Innocent Darkness as a fantastic read.

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  • Posted August 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Not what I thought

    Ohhhh I really tried to like this book. How it first started out had promise. I really liked how Noli was portrayed. She seemed like a strong character, and typical when you read some of these steampunk novels. They’re strong willed, always going against the social mores, and always tinkering - which Noli does. She’s also in love with botany - that was pretty interesting and different too. As the plot progresses, I thought it was off to a good start. The reform school part really got me into the story and I thought it was going to get better. Then the faeries come in. I’m not much for faeries, they’re my least favorite paranormal beings (so perhaps I’m biased when it comes to this). Then the book suddenly stops becoming steampunk and goes into the romance and fantasy phase. This is where my interest in the book started to drop. Noli’s character started to becoming something that I wasn’t expecting at all. She becomes all girly, needy, clingy, and all around irritating. The romance aspect of the book was starting to irritate me as well and the plot just seemed to have taken a nosedive from there. V was interesting at first as well, but then when the romance starts to happen I was personally starting to get real sick of all three: Noli, Kevighn, and V. Then when James and Charlotte joined in the picture the story got unbearable and predictable. This book just wasn’t the one for me. Perhaps others will enjoy this one. It just stops becoming steampunk and then evolves into fantasy and romance. I was really hoping for a good novel featuring engines, gears and goggles. Not much so in this book. Sad to say I was very disappointed in this one.

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  • Posted August 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Go read INNOCENT DARKNESS!

    Recently I went to a writer's conference where everyone was debating what the "next big thing" in YA literature was going to be. Some people argued that contemporary is on the rise and it was also suggested that steam punk has yet to see it's day. But what everyone seemed to think was the most probable was a mash-up of some of our perennial favorite genres--a blending of some of our best loved reads. The first thing that came to mind when I heard this was INNOCENT DARKNESS--a steam punk faerie tale. Now, I have to admit that this was my first foray into steam punk and I found it to be very interesting, but what I loved the most was how creative Lazear got with this story. It was very clear that she has her finger on the pulse of this new type hybrid. It is also obvious that INNOCENT DARKNESS is a mix of topics that Lazear really loves and feels passionately about. Steam punk meets the fae is just fun. I can't wait for the next installment to see what happens next. Oh--and Dollymop is my new favorite word!

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  • Posted August 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The cover of Innocent Darkness called to the cover whore inside

    The cover of Innocent Darkness called to the cover whore inside me and she immediately had to have it. I mean look at it~ in all of its steampunk finery. As the first book in the Aether Chronicles I went into this book expecting a steampunk novel with a fantasy twist. What I got was a young adult fantasy with a steampunk mention. I am noticing a trend in YA novels that seem to cross multiple genres and I am personally not happy about it. It waters down the genres and has me as a consumer leery about what I am actual buying. Despite my disappointment I did enjoy this dark fantasy.

    The tale begins in steampunk-gooey-goodness as we meet our protagonist Magnolia &ldquo;Noli&rdquo; Braddock. She and her friend V are working on her missing father&rsquo;s flying car. They reside in an alternate version of Los Angeles in the year 1901. We quickly learn that Noli is perceived as a hoyden and has a knack for getting into trouble. When she takes the flying car for an unauthorized spin she is forced to attend a reform school in San Francisco. This is where the steampunk element ends, except for a few teasers here and there that felt thrown in. At the school Noli tries to behave so she can be returned to her mother. The school is horrible with incredibly cruel punishments and a creepy staff. She befriends a girl named Charlotte, who would rather stay in this dreadful place then be returned to her uncle. When things get to be too much to bear Noli makes a wish to be &quot;any place but here.&quot; She wakes to find herself in the Otherworld. The tale that unfolds has elements of suspense, sexual tension, magic, fairies, and romance.

    The characters in Lazear&rsquo;s world are interesting but lacked depth. Noli is a brilliant child who tries to please her mother and has always had a crush on V. Her brilliance constantly competes with her maturity level and she wavered back and forth between them. She wasn't developed enough for me and some of her actions were annoying. V adores Noli and has secrets, lots of secrets. Kevighn Silver is the huntsman for the Queen. He is sent from the Otherworld to find a young woman with the spark. While on his quests he indulges in hired woman and opium. There is something a little sick about Kevighn and he gave me the creeps.
    The path the author leads him on never really worked for me. Both V and Kevighn love Noli and I feared the dreaded love triangle. Noli did choose but the loser is not satisfied. The Queen was interesting and kind of reminded me of the queens from Alice in Wonderland and Snow White. I like Charlotte and my heart tugged for her. Overall these characters were unique but under developed.

    The world-building was both exciting and disappointing. I really enjoyed the back story and the altered concept of 1901. Sadly this altered version of 1901 was not completely believable. Language, settings and circumstances didn&rsquo;t quite jive for me. Lazear&rsquo;s description of the Otherworld and how both worlds are kept in balance was both creepy and original. I loved this world and wanted to know more. The Fae world and its rules while not new were nicely depicted.The pace flowed nicely with highs and lows. There are two climatic scenes towards the end. One was very predictable and the other while not unexpected was filled with tension and excitement.
    I want to thank Flux and netGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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