Innocent Darkness (Aether Chronicles Series #1)

Innocent Darkness (Aether Chronicles Series #1)

3.6 16
by Suzanne Lazear

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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

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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

Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
Publication date:
Aether Chronicles Series, #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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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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