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Wish. Love. Desire. Live. 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 wil Wish. Love. Desire. Live. 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.


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Wish. Love. Desire. Live. 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 wil Wish. Love. Desire. Live. 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.

30 review for Innocent Darkness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    Innocent Darkness is a story about Noli, a girl who lost her social status and her chances for a good marriage when her father disappeared, and is forced to go to a boarding school for troubled girls, from where she is later taken to Faery to become the human sacrifice that will save the entire realm. She is found and taken by the queen’s ruthless huntsman Kevighn. He somehow falls in love with Noli even though she’s just one of many girls he’s kidnapped and brought to his queen to be killed. No Innocent Darkness is a story about Noli, a girl who lost her social status and her chances for a good marriage when her father disappeared, and is forced to go to a boarding school for troubled girls, from where she is later taken to Faery to become the human sacrifice that will save the entire realm. She is found and taken by the queen’s ruthless huntsman Kevighn. He somehow falls in love with Noli even though she’s just one of many girls he’s kidnapped and brought to his queen to be killed. Noli’s best friend V, whom she has feelings for, turns out to be none other than the earth court prince in exile and comes rushing to save her. If someone had given me a copy of Innocent Darkness without the cover and the publisher info, I’d have dropped it after less than 20%, thinking that it’s self-published, and one of those books that gives self-publishing a bad name. Innocent Darkness seems unfinished and unpolished. It lacks structure, it’s full of rough transitions, repetitiveness and contradictions. In fact, to me it seemed more like a draft than like a finished book. It was very rough around the edges and uneven in more ways than one. The transitions between different points of view tended to be too abrupt and badly handled so they always came like a slap in the face. In some ways, the book seemed very childish, but then there was just enough sex and opium to make me uncomfortable. (Reading about either of those things doesn’t make me uncomfortable in itself, but in this case, it didn’t fit well with the rest of the story.) I am glad that the author decided to tackle the topic of sexual abuse; after all, something like that is highly probable in a boarding school where unprotected girls get examined by a male doctor who has absolute power over them. I just wish the rest of the book wasn’t quite so naïve. The language was another thing that didn’t sit well with me at all. I’m certainly not an expert in English language, I’m not even a native speaker, but I can recognize a failed attempt when I see one. It wasn’t nearly formal enough for that time (1901), alternate history or not, and throwing in a few archaisms and repeating them over and over again couldn’t have possibly worked. I didn’t actually do a search to see how many times the exact words ‘opium and soft women’ were used, but it must have been over fifteen. To me, this shows that the author doesn’t know the first thing about opium users (or soft women) and that she didn’t do any research whatsoever, but instead adopted this expression because it sounded good to her (or it sounded like an appropriate activity for a man beyond redemption) and insisted on repeating it twice in every chapter. That brings me to Kevighn, the Faery queen’s huntsman, who indulges in all this opium and soft women and is one of the most underdeveloped characters I’ve ever come across. I’m still not quite sure what his role or his motivations were supposed to be, but his entire situation was left completely open, which makes me think that he’ll be very important in the sequel. At the beginning, I liked Noli’s best friend V, even though he was a bit of a cliché, but as the story progressed and he was conveniently given the role that was most needed at the time, the whole thing (and his character) became utterly ridiculous. The way the plot was solved was also entirely predictable and childish and in complete contrast with the darker parts of the book I’ve mentioned earlier. That ending would have fit better in a children’s book, but for an adult, or even a young adult, it’s almost insulting. I guess I’ve made it abundantly clear that I won’t be reading the next book in the Aether Chronicles. At best, this book needs a lot more work, but frankly, I’m not sure it can be saved. For more of my reviews, visit The Nocturnal Library

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    I had such high hopes for this book, but unfortunately, I did not like it at all. I really struggled to finish it, and I felt the characters and the dialogue were very irritating. And sorry, this book is NOT recommended for steampunk fans. I really wanted to like this book, but it was not what I was expecting - and not for the good either. The cover was awesome - spunky yet exotic at the same time - but the cover was in no way a representation of Noli at all. And she sure didn't dress like that ( I had such high hopes for this book, but unfortunately, I did not like it at all. I really struggled to finish it, and I felt the characters and the dialogue were very irritating. And sorry, this book is NOT recommended for steampunk fans. I really wanted to like this book, but it was not what I was expecting - and not for the good either. The cover was awesome - spunky yet exotic at the same time - but the cover was in no way a representation of Noli at all. And she sure didn't dress like that (I'm remember her scenes where she fussed about remaining covered and being in her undergarments. And, this book was supposed to be a mix of steampunk - which is a weird genre in itself as a mix of historical and science fiction or whatever you call it with those industrial steam machines - with a mix of paranormal with fairies. Now the ONLY part of this book with steampunk was at the beginning when Noli and V were flying the hovercop and MAYBE when they were building Lottie's chair. The rest of the book was about fairies. I really felt like they were two separate stories unsuccessfully mashed together. The writing was not really that great. Some chapters were short, and other were long, and I felt the transition from one scene to the next was very choppy. And I spent most of the book annoyed at the dialogue. The conversations were silly and foolish, and I felt Lasear tried too hard to overdramatize everything. As for the characters themselves, not a fan. Part of it was I thought Noli was a different character at the beginning of the book and then later on. She was spunky, carefree, independent and fun. I know the reform school "broke" her, but she went from this really cool modern character to such a Victorian ninny. And I know she's supposed to be a proper lady, but the scenes with Kevighn and V made me want to shake her. The story itself could use a lot of work. The premise on the fairies is just okay - nothing special. But all of the extra elements in it just made it, like I said, a very bad mashed up story. The scenes at the reform school disturbed me, and I know the story is supposed to be like that for the girls to feel miserable, but I just didn't like how cruel they were. And I was left with SO many unanswered questions. (view spoiler)[Okay, so this is the first book in the Aether Chronicles, what does aether have to do with in this story other than they're scared of it being in the atmosphere. Since steampunk had little to do with this book, I'm lost why it was mentioned at all. Kevighn had said he was indirectly responsible for Noli's father death, but how? This was never explained, and what did he have to do with the earthquake or aether or whatever else? I still don't have a clear concept of what the Spark - it was described as a talent, or energy or hoyden - but I still can't grasp the concept of what it is. And I have an idea of what happened at the end, but I'm still not sure WHAT she became other than one of them, somehow it made her more beautiful and less of herself. (hide spoiler)] I don't know, the book introduces ambiguous descriptions that are fleeting that I can't quite get a grasp of the image in my head. I always feel bad for giving one star and don't do it very often, but this book failed me on so many levels.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dani

    How does the saying go? “Good Steampunk is hard to find?” Ok. So maybe that’s not precisely how it goes, but sadly, that fact doesn’t make the statement any less true. I’ll admit, Innocent Darkness first caught my eye because of it’s cover. Adorned with gears, a dirigible, the obligatory corset/pocket watch/brass-’n-leather goggles combo, and a rebellious looking heroine ready to flout Victorian-era conventions, this cover said to me, “Hi there. I’m steampunk. Grab a cuppa and read me.” And I said How does the saying go? “Good Steampunk is hard to find?” Ok. So maybe that’s not precisely how it goes, but sadly, that fact doesn’t make the statement any less true. I’ll admit, Innocent Darkness first caught my eye because of it’s cover. Adorned with gears, a dirigible, the obligatory corset/pocket watch/brass-’n-leather goggles combo, and a rebellious looking heroine ready to flout Victorian-era conventions, this cover said to me, “Hi there. I’m steampunk. Grab a cuppa and read me.” And I said, “Thank the Aether.” It’s been a while since I read an excellent book of the steampunk variety. Sadly, I shouldn’t have pinned my hopes on this one. Typically, I don’t even mention covers in my reviews, but for this book I felt compelled to say something about it simply because I think the cover is misleading. Innocent Darkness is barely, barely Steampunk. Instead it’s more a story of faerie, which is fine. However, in my opinion, this book shouldn’t be visually marketed so heavily as a genre it barely touches on. Besides the altered historical time line (which the reader scarcely sees evidence of), a flying car that introduces our heroine, and several mentions of aether, airships and mechanical doodads, the Steampunk element is pretty superfluous. At least in this first book. Who knows? It could become an integral part of the world and story in subsequent novels… just not in this one. The heroine, Magnolia, or “Noli,” is advertised as a “hoyden.” From the saucy vibe of the girl on the cover and from the blurb, I was really hoping for a sassy, kick-butt, strong female lead who’s struggling to find her place in a restrictive Victorian society. Unfortunately, the cover misled again. In the end, I found Noli to be almost the kind of girl she despised; the girl she insisted she was not. She isn’t what I’d call mindless, prattling or insipid, but she doesn’t really stand up for herself either, or even have much of a backbone. Instead she tends to do what the men in her life want her to do. She almost needs their affirmation and therefore doesn’t feel at all independent or equal to her male counterparts. She’s a follower. She’s not brash. She has rare moments of sass. And I know that the title is Innocent Darkness, but I found Noli to be very naïve for a girl who’d buck her mother’s authority and the law to fix cars and hoverboard illegally. Who she is at the beginning, compared to who she proves to be throughout, compared to who she says she is just feels incongruous. In the end, Noli just doesn’t mature as a character, and I just couldn’t find that all-important connection to her, which is unfortunate. Moving on to the romance. Innocent Darkness does feature a love triangle, a love triangle that, in my opinion, feels forced on Noli’s part. I won’t say much about the whole sordid affair (because it’d reveal too much about the plot), but after certain revelations come to light, I just had a really hard time believing Noli’s continued interest in one of the guys. (We’ll call him Boy #1.) Especially considering who the Boy #2 is. Especially when Boy #1 means her harm. To me, Boy #1 wasn’t a handsome, troubled-yet-redeemable bad boy, he was the type of guy who screams “Danger! And I don’t mean the good kind!” Seriously girl, put your Nikes on and make tracks. In regards to the story, I found the plot interesting enough, if not predictable. It was compelling in that I wanted to see where the love story ended up, if Noli would achieve any growth as a character, and how the main plot point would resolve. I did find the writing style a bit hard to adjust to. It wasn’t middle grade, it was definitely YA, but perhaps more simplistic in style? I also found the dialogue to be a bit awkward at times, perhaps due to further emotional development being needed in some situations. The dialogue is another reason why I found Noli to be overly naïve, I think. Also, the storytelling style and her naivete also didn’t jive somehow with the… … somewhat mature situations that went on between Noli and her gentlemen. Overall, while I like the idea behind Innocent Darkness, a lackluster heroine, a forced love triangle, a predictable resolution, and the whole Steampunk question ultimately left me disappointed. Due to some mature content, I’d recommend this book for an older teen audience.

  4. 5 out of 5

    AH

    What a promising start to a debut novel. I was transported back in time to the turn of the 20th century Los Angeles, a place where hover boards and zeppelins fly in the sky. Our heroine, a “sparky” girl named Noli repairs cars and other gadgets. Noli takes her best friend V (Steven) on a joyride in her lovingly restored flying car. Of course, the ride or rather the flight, did not end well and Noli and V crash land in her backyard. Noli is detained for flying without the proper license. She is f What a promising start to a debut novel. I was transported back in time to the turn of the 20th century Los Angeles, a place where hover boards and zeppelins fly in the sky. Our heroine, a “sparky” girl named Noli repairs cars and other gadgets. Noli takes her best friend V (Steven) on a joyride in her lovingly restored flying car. Of course, the ride or rather the flight, did not end well and Noli and V crash land in her backyard. Noli is detained for flying without the proper license. She is forced to attend the Finlay School in San Francisco where her outrageous behavior is to be corrected and beaten out of her. I really, really enjoyed the first few chapters of this book. The steampunk elements were imaginative and nicely done. I liked Noli at this point and her friendship with V was refreshing. Then as Noli is enrolled at the Finlay House, the story began to deteriorate for me. I can’t imagine a loving mother allowing her daughter to be placed in such a school. Finlay House was frightening – the methods used to “train” the girls were barbaric. Finlay House turned out vapid, opinionless girls who were beaten into submission and isolated from their families and friends. Noli is at Finlay House for a short period of time and plot out an escape with her friend Charlotte. Unfortunately, Charlotte is removed from the home before she could escape. Kevighn Silver-Tongue was on a mission for the fae queen. Once every seven years, a “sparky” human is taken into the fae realm and sacrificed to keep the fae realms in existence. Kevighn’s last attempt at procuring the sacrifice failed and the fae realms are suffering. Kevighn manages to “capture” Noli and transport her to the fae Otherworld as the sacrifice. Surprisingly enough, the magic does not bind to Noli because she wears an amulet given to her by V as a good luck charm. Noli lives under the radar with Kevighn as he imagines the possibility of a life with her. Meanwhile V and his brother James look for Noli and follow her trail to the Otherworld. I had several problems with this book. I understand that I read a galley, an uncorrected proof, but my copy had too many spelling and grammar errors. I usually overlook these errors in galleys but I had to re-read several passages to make sure I understood correctly. I hope that these errors are corrected on the final copy. I felt like this book was trying to do too much. Steampunk, a reform school, the fae realms – maybe if the book had concentrated on one or two elements it would have been more successful. I also found it strange that the fae queen would have clockwork pets. A little odd since technology doesn’t work well in the fae realm. I did like Noli’s “sparkiness” and her affinity for things of the earth and the land. That was a nice touch. The dream sequences were fun to read too. I found Noli a little too uptight It was hard for me to rate this book. I really liked the beginning of the book but the remainder was slow paced for me. Perhaps others may enjoy the book more than I did. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book. Review posted on Badass Book Reviews.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ferdy

    Spoilers Sixteen year old Noli is sent to boarding school after getting in trouble. Her mum hopes that her time at boarding school will help her become a lady and increase her chances of finding a husband. Noli hates boarding school, she makes a wish to escape whilst unknowingly sitting in a faerie tree, the wish sends her to the Otherworld. Kevighn Silver, a huntsmen from the Otherworld is tasked with finding a mortal girl that has 'Spark' (talent/genius) so she can be sacrificed to stabilize th Spoilers Sixteen year old Noli is sent to boarding school after getting in trouble. Her mum hopes that her time at boarding school will help her become a lady and increase her chances of finding a husband. Noli hates boarding school, she makes a wish to escape whilst unknowingly sitting in a faerie tree, the wish sends her to the Otherworld. Kevighn Silver, a huntsmen from the Otherworld is tasked with finding a mortal girl that has 'Spark' (talent/genius) so she can be sacrificed to stabilize the magic in the Otherworld. Kevighn comes across Noli who unbeknownst to her has Spark. Noli's best friend, V, knows that she is in danger of being hunted because of her Spark and sets about saving her. -Some of the world building felt a little off, the hoverboards and flying cars came across as more futuristic than steampunk. I was put of by the style changing from steampunk-esque to a boarding school vibe and then to a paranormal/magical tone. I did enjoy Noli's time at boarding school - it was an awful place and there was a real sense of danger there. Unfortunately, Noli didn't stay there long, and she just ended up in the boring Otherworld gardening and fretting about which one of her boys was sexiest. There were a lot of cliched characters - typical mean girls, vapid girls, old fashioned mothers, bad boy love interests and evil fae. So it shouldn't come as surprise that I didn't connect to any of the characters. The constant repetitions were irritating - the phrases/words like fussy old bodger, little blossom, dollymop and uncouth kept appearing every other page. I wish these YA authors would expand there limited vocabulary. The solution at the end was a bit too convenient, everything worked out for all the main characters. They were just given a perfect out, they didn't have to work or fight for their lives - it was all so anticlimactic. -Noli was a decent character at first even though she was fairly generic. I liked that she wanted to go to university, that she was ambitious, that she liked fixing and creating things and that she had a mind of her own. However, all of Noli's positive qualities disappeared as soon as the dreaded love triangle was introduced - she became indecisive, whiny and weak and cried at every little thing. -Kevighn was a vile character and a rubbish love interest. The way he treated girls was appalling - he lied, seduced and manipulated them without regret. He didn't empathize or care about anyone else's feelings but his own. Of course, we're meant to just think he's misunderstood, lonely and tortured - he wasn't. His past loss was no excuse for his effed up behaviour. I was disgusted that he tried to get in Noli's knickers by getting her drunk..ugh. The only reason he even seemed to want Noli was because she was the first girl that didn't fully succumb to his charms. It was bizarre how he kept saying that he loved her yet would casually think about having to eventually kill her - there was no pain, remorse or anguish about what he had to do. Also after apparently falling for Noli, he went and slept with a bunch of prostitutes..ugh. He said he loved her but his thoughts, feelings and actions proved otherwise. -Noli's BFF, V, started of as a likeable love interest and then in the last half he turned into a douche. He was a bastard to Noli all because he wanted to protect her. I'd be fine with that but after treating her like crap he'd then be affectionate towards her. I hate love interests that are hot and cold and fuck around with the heroines feelings. Either be a bastard all the time or don't be one at all. I found it odd that for most of the book, V kept referring to his mother and the high queen as two separate people. It just didn't make sense. If a character has their own POV then it makes no sense for them to conveniently not think about things they normally would think about just to create more drama. This wasn't as good as I hoped it would be, I was again taken in by a pretty cover. If Noli had stayed the headstrong, reckless and driven girl she was depicted to be in the beginning then I probably would have enjoyed this even with the excessive tropes/cliches, uninteresting plot and shoddy world building. I'll only read the sequel if I have nothing else to read or if the reviews look promising.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Sabatini

    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 t 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!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    *headdesk* Why oh why do I do this to myself? I knew about halfway through that this was going to be one of those books that I was going to regret reading, but did I stop reading? Nope! That's because I still have this ridiculous need to reach the end of a book in the vain hopes that the story will get better, the characters will be less annoying, that it will stop being so gosh darned feeble and tedious. BUT THEY NEVER DO!!! To be fair this book started out ok. It was never going to be amazing, *headdesk* Why oh why do I do this to myself? I knew about halfway through that this was going to be one of those books that I was going to regret reading, but did I stop reading? Nope! That's because I still have this ridiculous need to reach the end of a book in the vain hopes that the story will get better, the characters will be less annoying, that it will stop being so gosh darned feeble and tedious. BUT THEY NEVER DO!!! To be fair this book started out ok. It was never going to be amazing, or knock my socks off, but it held a certain amount of promise. I was intrigued by the Steampunk/faerie mix, two genres I enjoy and hoped would work well together. And they did for a while. Then all the other stuff started getting in the way. The plot was nothing special. Headstrong girl unwilling to conform to social standards gets in trouble. She gets sent to an institution full of stereotypes, from the mean girls out to get anyone they see as a threat to the evil teachers deluded into thinking their way is what's best for everyone when in fact they're just plain psychotic. There was even a pervy doctor for crying out loud. This cast of completely unoriginal characters then do their up most to quash all of the things that make the girl 'special'. Then we have the faery element. A sacrifice of a girl possessing a 'special' quality so that they can lavish her with wonders and trinkets, make her feel like a princess then kill her to restore the balance of the world. Guess who the lucky girl is. The rest of the book is spent twatting about not actually telling a story. Rather it turns into the Kevighn-Noli-Steven show, the plot taking the back seat to the inevitable love-triangle. Oh goody. That being said, the plot might not have been too bad, if it hadn't kept being so over the top and forced. The author just seemed to be trying too hard to shock, rather than taking the time to build an atmosphere or explore a situation. And the characters!!! Utterly generic. The main character had promise, but by the end she had turned into one of the simpering ninnies she was trying so desperately to avoid. The last third of the book she spends hurt, upset or crying. Most of the time all three. What happened to the strong girl who liked to fix machines and didn't want to end up a mindless drone? Enter the love interests. As soon as the males vying for her affections had been identified, it all went tits up. There was endless prattling on about out which one was better, which one should she choose, which one was the least dickish. Even when she made her choice, 100% and completely decided which one she wanted, she still faffed about, even though she declared that she had made up her mind. A. Nnoy. ING. I don't give a rats ass who, just PICK ONE GODDAMMIT!!!! The worst part is it's a split narrative, meaning we have to hear from the boys point of view, which included hearing about how amazing she is, how much they want her, how much they want to protect her, blah, blah, blah. By the end of the book the girl has absolutely no spine left whatsoever and is more than happy to let one of her boys shower her with affection one moment, then push her away to next (most of the time literally). Then she lets him do it, all over again. Now, she says she will ignore him, that after trying to tell him how she felt and getting it thrown back in her face, she won't let him toy with her emotions anymore. Literally two sentences later she's letting him pull her into his lap for a hug. But it's ok, she doesn't help him pull her into his lap, she makes him do all the work. Thatta girl. You stand firm!!! Oh yeah and then she starts crying. What a shock. Her characters are also all stupid. For the sake of the story, there are things they don't think of or miss, so it can be revealed as a big plot twist later on, but they are so glaringly obvious they just come across as feckless idiots. How many times did they repeat, 'be careful when making deals with the fae'? but they missed out one of the most important terms of their bargain, even though they apparently went over all the points in theirs heads over and over. They still missed it. How stupid can you get? There was also a lot of fobbing off in the narrative. A lot of cliches thrown in, a botch job at covering up the holes in the plot, so the author didn't have to try to explain inconsistencies. Some examples were lines like, 'I was trying to protect you' and, dammit I can't remember any more. That's how quickly my brain wants to be rid of this book. There is also the fact that the ending just kind of fizzles out. A solution is reached in rather lack lustre fashion, again with more stupidity on the part of the characters, the lead in particular, but it just carries on...and gets really stupid. Plus, for some reason, the author refused to stop writing about a character when his part in the plot was over long before the ending. The only reason he remained was most likely to retain the 'excitement and drama' of the love triangle. As it had already failed to begin with, there was absolutely no need to follow the continued escapades of the man who lost. Especially when he just ended up in a brothel. Then it turned into a seedy porn fest. Nothing up to 'Fifty Shades' standards, but it was just unnecessary and cringe-worthy. Not all females want or need soft porn in their books to enjoy them. I did NOT need an chapterly update of the goings on in the main characters nether regions. The overuse of the word 'dollymop' made me want to hit things. Oh heck, there's more, but that goes against my non spoiler giving principles. Heaven forbid I ruin it for you just in case you still decide to pick this up. Suffice it to say I shall not be reading the further adventures of Noli the insipid. Wow, that was harsh.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I am an avid reader of young adult novels, and not ashamed to admit it. Once you are past the age where reading level is the main factor in what you choose to read, it doesn't make sense to me to worry about whether you are reading books aimed at a much younger audience. For the most part, I hold young adult novels to the same standard as the adult ones, rarely thinking, "I would probably have enjoyed this more if I read it as a teenager." That thought seems patronizing to me; I had discriminati I am an avid reader of young adult novels, and not ashamed to admit it. Once you are past the age where reading level is the main factor in what you choose to read, it doesn't make sense to me to worry about whether you are reading books aimed at a much younger audience. For the most part, I hold young adult novels to the same standard as the adult ones, rarely thinking, "I would probably have enjoyed this more if I read it as a teenager." That thought seems patronizing to me; I had discriminating tastes as a teen, and I believe teenagers nowadays do as well (at least as much as adults). HOWEVER: Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear may be the exception. I believe that a good book is a good book regardless who it is aimed at, and Innocent Darkness has many factors of a good book. The characters are appealing, particularly the plucky heroine and the anti-heroic elf; the steampunk setting, though terribly trendy at the moment, was vividly realized, and I liked the connection of aether to seismic activity (I'm a California kid). I gravitate towards any novel that deals with sinister fairies and the traditional human sacrifice or "teind to hell"; I loved that the heroine was mechanically inclined for a change (even though I myself am not), and that this was what drew the fairies to her; I loved that she was sent to a girls' reform school and subjected to treatment reminiscent of "The Yellow Wallpaper." I really just didn't need all of those things at once. Did you ever hear the old fashion saw "Spin around to look at yourself in the mirror, and whatever accessory leaps out at you, take that one off?" The point being that, no matter how much you like all your scarves and jewelry and whatnot, if you wear all of them at once, something is going to get lost. That was how Innocent Darkness felt to me; overaccessorized. I read about the elves, and the reform school, and the steampunk setting with its aether and air pirates, and it was all so dazzling, but I wanted Lazear to "put something back." Everything "cool" doesn't have to be squeezed into a single novel, or even a single series, and I feel that if Lazear narrowed her focus, she could have fleshed out the elements she retained better, and more naturally. Spent more time showing us that Noli's classmates at Findley House were shallow and insipid, rather than simply telling us. Not just told us that V* is bookish yet the only one who understands Noli, but demonstrated it through their interaction. Used the idea of airship pirates for something other than establishing this is a steampunk world (though that could come in book 2). In short, I think this is a novel that tries to dazzle its readers with lots of cool elements and, on those to whom steampunk, Victorian ideas of women's mental health, or fairy sacrifice are new, it might actually work. For those of us who are more jaded, who may appreciate the dazzle but appreciate it best when well integrated and richly developed, the novel shows promise but does not captivate. *Okay, I couldn't figure out how to integrate this into the rest of my review, but V's nickname--his real name is Steven--was like nails on a chalkboard to me, as were the spelling of Kevighn's name, and the fact that fairy women wore corsets on the outside. The other problem with writing a novel and sticking in "everything I think is cool" is that your readers may not feel the same.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    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’t get enough of these great characters. Noli is the kind of girl main character I really do enjoy. She’s strong-willed, confident and 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’t get enough of these great characters. Noli is the kind of girl main character I really do enjoy. She’s strong-willed, confident and with this storyline taking place in 1901 when women aren't allowed much choice in life, she’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’ 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’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’s loosing this battle of the wills. Kevighn Silver, who’s also known as Silver Tongue (or Women- Maker), is a faerie huntsman who is from the Otherworld. Kevighn’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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I LOVED this book. Seriously. I love steampunk. I love faeries. To find an author that had the vision to combine the two?? I'm in serious fan-girl mode, people! SERIOUSLY. Okay, let me try to talk myself down a little bit here...become a little more coherent. LOL. Let's see. Why did I LOVE this book? Well it starts out with a girl who refuses to become the perfect little society Lady taking a flying car for an illegal joyride...awesome. Then she gets sent to a reform school (read punishments and I LOVED this book. Seriously. I love steampunk. I love faeries. To find an author that had the vision to combine the two?? I'm in serious fan-girl mode, people! SERIOUSLY. Okay, let me try to talk myself down a little bit here...become a little more coherent. LOL. Let's see. Why did I LOVE this book? Well it starts out with a girl who refuses to become the perfect little society Lady taking a flying car for an illegal joyride...awesome. Then she gets sent to a reform school (read punishments and pretty much prison with tea time, here) and finds a faery garden in the backyard. When the High Queen's faerie Huntsman, (who is the perfect version of a Huntsman, BTW, relying on charm and good looks to lure the ultimate prey, humans) finds Noli there, he ends up sweeping her off to the Otherworld to turn her into the sacrifice that can save all Fae. Unbeknownst to Noli, her best friend and next-door neighbor, Steven...aka V, has a few secrets of his own and when Noli disappears, he sets out to find her. So, without giving *everything* away, here are things that kept me smiling all the way through the book: *Romance *Faeries *Amazing Gardens *Silly garden games reminiscent of the croquet in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland *Danger *Sacrifice *Swordplay *Mechanical Hair Accessories *Fantastic and Impractical Clothing ...and much more! I cannot wait to see what Lazear gives us in book two. So far, she's hinted that there will be air pirates. AIR PIRATES, people!! *fans self* Sorry, got a little overexcited there, again. :D

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Elizabeth

    (Source: I own a copy of this book.) 16-year-old Noli isn’t prepared to be sent to a horrible reform school when she crashes her father’s flying car that she has spent years repairing. Finley House is a nightmare though, and whilst wishing that she could be anywhere else, Noli accidentally finds herself in the land of Faerie. Can Noli make it back to her own world? Or will someone else make use of her first? This book wasn’t what I was expecting, but I did enjoy it. Noli was an interesting character (Source: I own a copy of this book.) 16-year-old Noli isn’t prepared to be sent to a horrible reform school when she crashes her father’s flying car that she has spent years repairing. Finley House is a nightmare though, and whilst wishing that she could be anywhere else, Noli accidentally finds herself in the land of Faerie. Can Noli make it back to her own world? Or will someone else make use of her first? This book wasn’t what I was expecting, but I did enjoy it. Noli was an interesting character, but she did make some silly decisions at times! Flying a car with no license or permit was not the best of ideas, and she didn’t seem to have a clue about faeries! I did feel sorry for her at the reform school, the way they treated her was awful, but her plans to escape weren’t all that great really. The storyline in this was good, although I have to say that this is first a fantasy/paranormal/faerie story, before a steampunk story. Whether that will change in the next book I’m not sure, but this was way more focused on the faerie aspect than the steampunk aspect, which wasn’t really what I was expecting. I did like this story though, and I did get sucked in. There was some romance, which was a bit on the edge of new-adult rather than young-adult at times, and we did get a love triangle, although that didn’t ruin the story. The ending to this was okay, if a little slow, but I am interested to see what happens in book 2! Overall; interesting story about the fae, 7.5 out of 10.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Keren Hughes

    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 call 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 "treatments" - 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 "must-buy" book this year, Innocent Darkness is it!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    *Genre* Steampunk, Romance, Young Adult *Rating* 3.0 *First thoughts* Innocent Darkness follows the exploits of 16 year old Magnolia (Noli) Montgomery Braddock. Noli lives for excitement, and has an affinity for bringing flowers back to life and making them flourish. She would love to study Botany at the university. Unfortunately, she lives in a world (1901 Los Angeles) where women can't have full operational driver’s licenses without being escorted by an older gentleman. They also don't have equal *Genre* Steampunk, Romance, Young Adult *Rating* 3.0 *First thoughts* Innocent Darkness follows the exploits of 16 year old Magnolia (Noli) Montgomery Braddock. Noli lives for excitement, and has an affinity for bringing flowers back to life and making them flourish. She would love to study Botany at the university. Unfortunately, she lives in a world (1901 Los Angeles) where women can't have full operational driver’s licenses without being escorted by an older gentleman. They also don't have equal rights yet. She loves Flying Auto's. She loves tinkering with them, and yes, getting in trouble with them. After crashing her father’s flying machine alongside her best friend Steven “V” Darrow, she ends up being whisked off to San Francisco’s Findlay School for Wayward Hoydens thanks to her mother and the law. Findlay is a school where girls are beaten to an inch of their lives for being willful hoydens. The school is supposed to teach young girls how to be productive members of society and ridding them of their youthful disobedience. I considered the school to be nothing more than a prison complex where young girls are placed by parent’s who don’t understand their own kids. I had to look up the word Hoyden since it appears everywhere! So, the definition is as follows: Hoyden - a girl or woman of saucy, boisterous, or carefree behavior. Noli is unaware that there is a whole dimension called the Otherworld where the Fey run rampant and live off the sacrifices of human women every 7 years. She was even unaware that her best friend Steven is an exile from Otherworld. She is also unaware that Kevighn Silver-Tongue roams the streets of San Francisco looking for girls with sparks, or what we call creativity, joy & life. It is Kevighn’s job to find a sparkly girl for Queen Tiana every 7 years so that she may be sacrificed to keep the magic and creativity flowing in both realms. Kevighn doesn’t exactly have a good reputation with his previous picks especially since the last choice killed herself causing the great San Francisco Earthquake in 1895. Thanks to a wish made at the most inopportune time when her friend Charlotte is whisked away from the school by her rapist uncle, Noli is taken into Fairy and ends up battling for her humanity and her life because she has been chosen to be the next sacrifice by Kevighn. Somehow, she manages to find feelings for Kevighn even though I clearly thought he was a scrub and needed a serious beat down. He’s seriously creepy as well, and considers most women to be saucy. He also loves his opium. Thanks to the arrival of Steven into the Otherworld, Noli doesn’t give up her soul to the wrong person. I mostly liked Noli’s character traits and was seriously angered when it was all taken away from her because of her mother, Kevighn, and even her best friend Steven’s idiotic bargains with the Queen. Noli may lack sense when it comes to her tinkering with hover boards and flying machines, but it doesn’t mean that she’s willful or disrespectful towards anyone. There will be some who will say that Noli’s obsession with her own reputation is a negative quality. I disagree. She’s 16 years old folks! Seriously, allow her to choose when and who she will give up her V-jay to. Once in Fairy, she ends up having to face the reality that she will never see her mother again thanks to Kevighn’s actions, and the fact that she partakes in the eating of Fey food. I always found that suspect. A mortal comes into Fey, eats food, and drink, and now is forever stuck like chuck into a realm where she is an outcast. I was surprised that Noli remembered about not making bargains with Fey, and not saying thank you. I seriously considered putting a warning label on my review that this book may not be suitable for those under the age of 18 because of sexual innuendos, and situations where Noli and others are put in difficult situations with the schools so called Doctor. I also don’t think that kids under the age of 18 needs to be forced fed situations where opium and women in brothels are the standard for one of the characters. I’m not quite sure what I feel about reading the next book in the series. Obviously, Noli has some serious issues with her relationship with Steven, and her own humanity that was snared away from her thanks to an idiotic bargain. I anger towards Steven for not understanding that you don’t make any sort of bargain with a Fey Queen without checking the facts first. Yet, it’s Steven who sticks by Noli’s side when everything goes sideways and she’s fundamentally changed from a human to Fey. In the end, this was a different sort of novel for me. While there are steampunk aspects to the story, it read more like a romance novel mixed with supernatural elements. ARC recvd via Netgalley.com for Flux. Releases August 8, 2012

  14. 5 out of 5

    ☕️Kimberly

    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 a 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 “Noli” Braddock. She and her friend V are working on her missing father’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 "any place but here." 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’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’t quite jive for me. Lazear’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. While this novel had its flaws I still enjoyed it and will give this series a chance to redeem itself in book two. This novel had the potential to be so much more. Fans of fantasy and the Fae will enjoy Innocent Darkness, while fans expecting a steampunk series will be greatly disappointed. The cover and the tale do not match and despite my disappointment this was an easy, light, enjoyable read. This could have easily earned, a five cups of coffee rating, had it focused more on the fantasy aspect and added more depth and detail. The next book in the series has yet to be titled and has an expected publication date of 2013. I want to thank Flux and netGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review. my rating 2.5

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kara-karina

    Egalley thanks to Flux Books Pretty good read which strongly reminded me of Melissa Marr's fae series. However, I think the cover misleads you in a lot of ways. I thought this would be steampunk, but it's only slightly steampunk-ish. Noli is a young mechanic and a daughter of an impoverished lady, who is strongly opposed to her doing any sort of manual work. When she gets into trouble flying a car she just fixed without a permit and a license, the police gives her a choice - to pay for her crimes Egalley thanks to Flux Books Pretty good read which strongly reminded me of Melissa Marr's fae series. However, I think the cover misleads you in a lot of ways. I thought this would be steampunk, but it's only slightly steampunk-ish. Noli is a young mechanic and a daughter of an impoverished lady, who is strongly opposed to her doing any sort of manual work. When she gets into trouble flying a car she just fixed without a permit and a license, the police gives her a choice - to pay for her crimes and in a process hurt her mom's business, or go into a reform school in San Francisco where they will turn her into a lady. She obviously agrees to the latter. Findley school is a sort of sadistic poisonous environment you would expect from Jane Eyre's novel. Girls are systematically beaten, given weird medical treatment (read, - torture) by a creepy doctor with an unhealthy interest in young females. Noli goes along with everything to get out as soon as possible until her friend, Charlotte, is taken away by her abusive uncle, and then her inner talent and a magical wish on summer solstice transfer her to The Otherworld. The rest of the book (a big chunk of it) happens in fae lands. Unfortunately The Otherworld is dying and needs a sacrifice of someone with enough Spark (talent, creativity) every 7 years. The Queen and The Huntsman think that Noli can be the one, their only problem is that the girl resists all the temptations and gifts. She just wants to go home and misses her friend, V. I think the problem with this book for me is that it's sooo tame. Noli does a lot of gardening and thinking but doesn't act at all, she waits for someone else to sort her out. The Otherworld's description is severely lacking. All you've got is some glimpses of Alice in Wonderland. Unlike Melissa Marr's books this doesn't have this dark and twisted urgency, it doesn't come alive. So, it's a very pretty story with a knight in shining armour coming to the rescue and everything else conveniently falling into place at the last moment, but it's all too superfluous to my liking, all talk and no deed. The finale has an interesting twist though, and I would like to continue with the series to find out where it will end.

  16. 5 out of 5

    M. Andrew Patterson

    Absolutely loved this book. Having never read steampunk in novel format, I wasn't sure what to expect. Can I just say that this was an awesome introduction. I have now added words like "Dollymop" to my vocabulary (which is an awesome word, but I wouldn't call a woman from the Victorian era that or you'll get slapped!) and my other favorite "Hoyden". The language, technology, and story were so well crafted and believable. I can only imagine the immense amount of research that went into this book. Absolutely loved this book. Having never read steampunk in novel format, I wasn't sure what to expect. Can I just say that this was an awesome introduction. I have now added words like "Dollymop" to my vocabulary (which is an awesome word, but I wouldn't call a woman from the Victorian era that or you'll get slapped!) and my other favorite "Hoyden". The language, technology, and story were so well crafted and believable. I can only imagine the immense amount of research that went into this book. So well done. Also, don't let that whimsical cover fool you, there are some seriously dark moments. Definitely want to keep reading this world.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Suzanne Lazear nailed her debut novel! It is the perfect combination of Steampunk and Faery Tale! The characters are amazingly written and the world Suzanne has created really comes to life in your mind. I highly recommend reading Innocent Darkness! (Also, Noli is just an awesome heroine.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    As posted on booknook - YA and Fantasy book reviews I was first drawn to this book by the cover. I think it’s gorgeous and really interesting. I love the depiction of Noli and immediately wanted to read the book! Unfortunately, the cover art is a very poor representation of what this book is about. There is very little steampunk and Noli doesn’t even dress like the girl on the cover. She mostly wears fancy dresses and was appalled at the idea of wearing a sleeveless dress. The beginning of the boo As posted on booknook - YA and Fantasy book reviews I was first drawn to this book by the cover. I think it’s gorgeous and really interesting. I love the depiction of Noli and immediately wanted to read the book! Unfortunately, the cover art is a very poor representation of what this book is about. There is very little steampunk and Noli doesn’t even dress like the girl on the cover. She mostly wears fancy dresses and was appalled at the idea of wearing a sleeveless dress. The beginning of the book started out with promise. Noli is really spunky, strong, independent, and some would say a little too carefree. She doesn’t like to follow rules, she’s just out to have fun. She just illegally flew and crashed a flying car with her neighbour and best friend V (Steven), and she’s in trouble. Her options are to either go before a judge or attend a “reform school.” Her mother, desperate to save her daughter’s reputation, sends her to the school. The school turns out to be incredibly abusive. They literally beat the spunk and independence out of the admitted girls. I was intrigued. I thought Noli was an interesting character and I was hoping she’d be really rebellious at the reform school. I was looking forward to her taking control and getting the heck out of there. And that’s about where the story went downhill… While Noli is at the reform school, we start to learn about Kevighn. He’s from the Otherworld and he’s out hunting for a new woman. You see, the magic of the Otherworld relies on creativity—known as “Spark”— to survive, so every few years, a girl with Spark is sacrificed (killed) for the sake of this civilization. Right now the Otherworld is in desperate need of a sacrifice, so the pressure is really on. In between doing opium and sleeping with prostitutes, Kevighn is searching for a girl with a strong Spark. Then, he finds Noli at the reform school.. Kevighn’s usual routine is to seduce women into coming with him to the Otherworld and proceeding from there. So he takes Noli to his home, but as he’s about to “get to work,” he finds himself falling for Noli. He loves her innocence, her kindness, and how she turns his house into a real home. This is about where the book started to really turn me off. I hated Kevighn’s character. I didn’t like his obsession with opium and “soft women” (as he put it). I found it distracting and a little unnecessary. We’re reminded of his addiction to both in every chapter from his POV. Secondly, he came off as just a creepy guy. He kept seducing Noli with his ‘charm’ and lies and she kept falling into it and I hated that, which leads me to my next issue. Noli really changed throughout the book, but not in a good way. She went from being spunky, daring, and carefree to being naive crybaby obsessed with her reputation. Funny, I thought the whole reason she got sent off to reform school was because she didn't care about her reputation. As the story went on, I failed to see what was so special about Noli. Why does she have so much Spark? Any independent, carefree, creative, rebellious qualities she had faded very quickly as the story went on. She went from being potentially interesting to really bland. I thought her friend Charlotte — who supposedly had less Spark — was a lot more interesting. Towards the second half of the book, Noli starts developing a relationship with V and it becomes clear that she’s really prude. It just seemed completely out of character. V would start making some advances and she’d literally say, “We can’t do this — what about my reputation??” What happened to carefree, spunky, do-whatever-I-want Noli? I didn’t expect her to be a slut, but she basically saw kissing as the equivalent of home plate. Okay let’s talk about V. For most of the book I adored him. He was an awesome character and I was dying to know more about him. He was courageous, determined, and the perfect best friend. He would do anything for Noli and that was awesome. I really felt like I got invested in his character and sympathized with him. Except towards the end he got really annoying. At first he kept saying to Noli, “I won’t lie to you like they do — I’ll tell you the truth,” and at first he did and I loved him for it. But then later he was kind of hiding something from her and it just confused her and pissed me off! Then later, he kept trying to push his Fae culture onto Noli. When they’d kiss and Noli would blabber on about her reputation, he’d basically say, “Things are different in the Otherworld. Give yourself to me now.” A little paraphrasing, but his words weren’t far off. :P Even though I didn’t like Noli’s prudishness, it annoyed me that V suddenly seemed to have litte respect for her desire to remain “marriageable.” I also encountered many grammatical errors that interrupted my reading. I did read an e-ARC so hopefully these will be fixed in the final copies. Most of them are just blaringly obvious misuses of “he/her/his/she.” For example: He body went aflame at his touch, but fear still lingered in the pit of her belly. Finally, the end was way too convenient and too “easy.” I can’t say much without spoilers, but just know that it kind of came out of nowhere and was annoyingly convenient. If you don’t care about spoilers, click the link below to see what I mean. (view spoiler)[So everyone is looking at Noli to become the sacrifice to the Otherworld, then her friend Charlotte from the reform school shows up. At the beginning, Charlotte was a great character. She’s like your sparky, bubbly best friend who you can talk to about anything — especially intimate topics like sex. Anyway, she was perfectly fine at the beginning of the book but suddenly now, at the end, we find out she has a tumor! Since her days are numbered anyway, she volunteers to be the sacrifice to the Otherworld. Problem solved! Thank god for tumors? (hide spoiler)] The beginning of the book was interesting and promising, but the end just really dropped off. I almost didn’t want to finish the book and I had to push myself to complete it. I just didn’t get invested in the story, Noli got annoying, and I didn’t have a strong desire to “find out what was going to happen,” and then when I did get to the end it was way too convenient and unimaginative. I probably won’t be bothering with the rest of the series. :(

  19. 4 out of 5

    David

    Noli Braddock likes to tinker, as one does when one's a bright girl in an alternate steampunk version of 1901 Los Angeles. She and her friend Steven take her flying car for a joyride and get in trouble. Unfortunately, it's not Noli's first time in trouble and she's sent to a horrific boarding school in San Francisco where she'll be made into a proper young lady. Meanwhile, there's trouble across the aether in the realm of faerie. They need to bind a bright young girl to the magic so she can be sa Noli Braddock likes to tinker, as one does when one's a bright girl in an alternate steampunk version of 1901 Los Angeles. She and her friend Steven take her flying car for a joyride and get in trouble. Unfortunately, it's not Noli's first time in trouble and she's sent to a horrific boarding school in San Francisco where she'll be made into a proper young lady. Meanwhile, there's trouble across the aether in the realm of faerie. They need to bind a bright young girl to the magic so she can be sacrificed for all of them to live. Kevighn, huntsman of the fae, is in San Francisco looking for a suitable candidate and he soon sets his sights on Noli. One major plot thread is solved too conveniently for my taste, but otherwise a fun romantic romp where steampunk meets the faerie realm.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Isis

    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 Otherworl 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? 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 Harpers or Godey's. 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!

  21. 4 out of 5

    usagi ☆ミ

    Okay, so, this one's another hard one for me to nail down in order to review. There was a lot I liked about it, and on the other hand, there were a few bits that just didn't quite ring true. However, I did find it compulsively readable, and by the end, I knew I was going to be reading that second book. "Innocent Darkness" is a fun look at alternate history, and will probably be great to get younger readers started on the steampunk subgenre. "Innocent Darkness" is pseudo-Steampunk, or maybe proto- Okay, so, this one's another hard one for me to nail down in order to review. There was a lot I liked about it, and on the other hand, there were a few bits that just didn't quite ring true. However, I did find it compulsively readable, and by the end, I knew I was going to be reading that second book. "Innocent Darkness" is a fun look at alternate history, and will probably be great to get younger readers started on the steampunk subgenre. "Innocent Darkness" is pseudo-Steampunk, or maybe proto-Steampunk, since we don't really get to see much of the steam-powered technology (aside from the dangers of aether and flying cars, which was awesome). Granted, we do spend a lot of time in the Otherworld (Faery), but we also spend a lot of time at the reform school Noli is dragged to in order to crush her spirit (Spark) and make her a proper lady. But I thought that even at the reform school they'd have more gears and steam-related technology, instead of Noli in the garden constantly, when she wasn't, doing chores with the aid of steam-powered devices. In this area, I was pretty disappointed, because the glimpse of alternate history 1901 Los Angeles we were given in the opening chapter was pretty awesome - but that was the only appearance of that alternate history/steampunk material. Hopefully this will be remedied in book 2. What I did like were the images Lazear painted of the Otherworld - and the faeries there kind of reminded me of the cute little buggers you see in "Humanity Has Declined (Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita)" - except a little less talkative/intelligent. Lazear definitely shows some major talent in the sensory language department - I LOVED pretty much all of the time we spent in the Otherworld in terms of locales. The sensory input Lazear gives us with details of the Otherworld shine so brightly that it's hard not to get excited about it, and, to be honest, it saved a large part of the book for me because I was starting to get a bit frustrated. However, I found the sensory arena more than a bit unbalanced with the sensory language we get on Earth - while we do get some, it feels like the Otherworld got more showing instead of telling. The plot was great - combining the notion of Holly Black's "Tithe" in order to save the Otherworld with proto-steampunk and an alternate history, I really enjoyed it. However, I questioned the need of the love triangle, which felt more than a bit forced in certain parts of the book. Now while Lazear does make this work with emphasizing that Kevighn is the huntsman and he'll do anything to get his quarry for the tithe, there's the insta-love factor where he kind of more or less instantly falls for Noli after a few short days/weeks of knowing her (and keeping her captive). Had Lazear kept it so that he just would do anything for his queen and the tithe, I think it would have worked MUCH better, and would have flowed easier. V's end of the triangle worked well, because he was genuinely conflicted as Noli's childhood friend and exile of the Faery court. I just wish it'd been limited to that. Many have compared this to Melissa Marr's "Tattoo Faeries" series, "Wicked Lovely". It's a fair comparison, except Marr's tales are far darker, far more delicious and dangerous in comparison with Lazear's first book. Another big problem I had with this book is that blood tithes, when depicted in faepunk lit, are rarely so tame. I felt this book played it way too safe, and while clean and accessible for the younger end of the YA spectrum, it just didn't ring true to the actual bloodier, darker part of trying to save the Otherworld. While there are some steamy make-out scenes, that also felt a bit forced, and just kind of didn't flow well. I'm hoping in future volumes we'll get closer to the true, dark side of blood tithing and its consequences. Final verdict? This would be a great way to get younger YA readers into the steampunk genre, and it's a good, clean read for them. But for me, it just wasn't enough, though I will be reading the next volume anyway. For older readers, I'd stick to Marr's "Wicked Lovely" series or Holly Black's "Tithe" trilogy for the more dark and delicious tales of Faery. But this is just my take on things. "Innocent Darkness" will be out on August 8th from Flux in North America, so be sure to check it out then! (posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dark Faerie Tales

    Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales Quick & Dirty: Though the novel starts out as a promising steampunk, it quickly becomes another paranormal love triangle with some confusing contradictions in the story line. Opening Sentence: ”Still working, Noli?” V’s voice startled her, making her bang her head against the undercarriage of the automobile. The Review: At the very beginning of the novel we learn our heroine’s a troublemaker. Fighting the constraints of Victorian California society, she tinke Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales Quick & Dirty: Though the novel starts out as a promising steampunk, it quickly becomes another paranormal love triangle with some confusing contradictions in the story line. Opening Sentence: ”Still working, Noli?” V’s voice startled her, making her bang her head against the undercarriage of the automobile. The Review: At the very beginning of the novel we learn our heroine’s a troublemaker. Fighting the constraints of Victorian California society, she tinkers with her father’s flying car and eventually causes more trouble than the legal system is willing to tolerate. The system takes Noli out of her mother’s care, revealing more about her family than Noli knew. Our heroine gets sent to a reform school in San Fransisco — though she’s too naïve to understand what that really means — where they’re going to mold her into a marriageable young lady. Forcefully. Lucky for Noli she has what the faeries call a Spark. More than enough Spark to attract the Faerie Queen’s huntsman Kevighn. The last girl he kidnapped ended up killing herself before the Sacrifice — meaning that the Otherworld is dying. With it, so will the mortal world’s creativity. But Noli’s different from the hundreds of other girls Kevighn has kidnapped over the years, and he falls in love with her. The characters ring a distinct lack of development. Noli is of course so wonderful Kevighn, the jaded opium addict, becomes inspired to love her. V, the boy-next-door that Noli has actual feelings for, starts out sweet (if cliché) and ends up being given the role that gives him a real chance at saving Noli. None of it rang true. I didn’t believe Kevighn would ever fall for Noli, didn’t believe V’s super-big secret. Kevighn’s character is left so open-ended that as a reader the fact he’ll be incredibly important in the sequel is lit up in neon lights. V becomes a little ridiculous, no matter how much I tried to like him. And then we get to our heroine. She was so incredibly naïve I almost came to doubt her intelligence. The main reason I didn’t is because she did, in fact, build a flying car. While I love the way Lazear demonstrates her strengths in the reform school, tackling huge subjects like sexual abuse, it was still hard for me to get into her head. Maybe part of this was the POV changes that never seemed to flow together, but I think it was mostly how naïve she was. Then, even though the author has made it clear Noli’s real feelings are for V and Kevighn sacrifices girls, she struggles for pages on who she truly belongs with. This book could easily have existed without the steampunk elements, and it might have turned out better that way. There is just so much going on that Lazear never goes into the technology that’s supposed to define Innocent Darkness as a steampunk. The story was torn between Victorian Gothic and the steampunk genre, so neither one actually prevailed in setting an engaging atmosphere for the novel. In fact, it was far more a Faerie novel than either of those two. I hope the sequel delves more into the world-building that I found lacking here. I’m also hoping the sequel begins to move away from the convenience-issues Innocent Darkness had and actually strives to make the characters complex. Notable Scene: Her life flashed before her eyes as she gagged and choked on the water pouring through the cloth. Images of her father, her mother, Jeff, V… Yes, she was going to die. All because she hid a book. Her mama would never know how much she loved her, how sorry she was. Tears rolled down her face as she waited for death. The cloth rose again. Air. Sweet air. She gasped for breath. Heart speeding, she waited for Miss Gregory to put back the cloth. But she didn’t. “Never be disobedient again, Magnolia,” Miss Gregory warned, every word making Noli tremble in terror. “I guarantee that you won’t like the consequences.” FTC Advisory: Flux provided me with a copy of Innocent Darkness No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids

    A fascinating debut that's one part steampunk, and one part fantasy mixed with magic, fey lore and romance. Innocent Darkness was a fascinating read for me, because of the unique mix of elements and lore that Suzanne includes in her story. While Noli's story starts out feeling more Steampunkish, than fantasy, the story quickly takes a turn towards fantasy, and introduces readers into the faerie realm about a third of the way in, thus ending the story's ties to being a steampunk. Normally I would A fascinating debut that's one part steampunk, and one part fantasy mixed with magic, fey lore and romance. Innocent Darkness was a fascinating read for me, because of the unique mix of elements and lore that Suzanne includes in her story. While Noli's story starts out feeling more Steampunkish, than fantasy, the story quickly takes a turn towards fantasy, and introduces readers into the faerie realm about a third of the way in, thus ending the story's ties to being a steampunk. Normally I would have been frustrated over the fact this story has been called a steampunk and in reality has very little steampunk feel to it compared to what most of this book offers readers. Suzanne has done such a superb job at introducing different elements to her story that she not only kept it fascinating, she kept her plot line moving at an engaging rate. Being that this is the first book in the series, it wouldn't surprised me if she brought in more steampunk elements into the rest of her series as it continues. Character wise, there are some great characters in this book. Noli is a smart girl who's not afraid to chance, to be herself, and do whatever it takes to survive. One of the things I admire the most about her, is the fact that growing up in the Victorian-Era, she wasn't this proper young women who wanted to be married off, but instead loves doing things the boys do, like mechanics and fixing up her brother's old hoverboard. It's the hoverboard that ultimately lands Noli in a boarding school. Luckily this school's dark, abusive secret doesn't break Noli's spirit, and it's here that she's also introduced to a world full of magic, and faeries. Noli is a resilient character and it's her toughness that saves her, keeping it spoiler free, but she goes from one dark setting to the next with her introduction to the fey world. Aside from Noli, my favorite character is her best friend, V. This fabulous nerdy boy from next door is the side kick we all wish we had. He loved and did whatever he could to help Noli out. I loved seeing how Noli's and V's relationship developed as the story goes on. Then there's the sly faery huntsman, Kevighan, who takes Noli to the Otherword. This guy is completely opposite of V, also know as Steven. His deception, and dark secret could cost Noli her life. I seriously loved the character chemistry that each of these guys have with Noli. It's well written, a little hot, and totally believable. Their roles in Noli's story are well developed and keep the story entertaining, as well as a little swoon-worthy. The thing I enjoyed about this book is the darker undertones that this story has. Both the human and Otherworld aren't pretty, and there's plenty of dark things that take place in both worlds. There's this great mix of steampunk, fantasy, romance, and danger found through out the book. While there were a few minor flaws I found in the ARC, it wasn't enough to make me not enjoy the book. Being that it's an ARC, I would except those to be fixed in the published book. Overall, this is a fantastic debut. I think it's one fans of faerie lore will enjoy most. With it's mix of action, danger, Victorian-Era feel, fairy lore, romance, betrayal, friendship, and the exciting plot twists that happen through out the book, I'd say there's a little bit of something for everyone in this book. It's one I'd recommend picking up. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens in the next book in this series, The Aether Chronicles. Check by later this morning for my interview with Noli!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Molli Moran

    I haven't read very many steam punk novels, but after I finished the debut book from author Suzanne Lazear, I can definitely say that I will be making an effort to read more! Innocent Darkness is equal parts delightful, enchanting, sinister, and curious, and definitely put me in a mood to delve deeper into the steam punk genre. I loved the clever way Lazear mixed fey mythos - both traditional, and her own flair - in with the notion of an alternate 1901 Los Angeles, with air ships, hover-crafts, I haven't read very many steam punk novels, but after I finished the debut book from author Suzanne Lazear, I can definitely say that I will be making an effort to read more! Innocent Darkness is equal parts delightful, enchanting, sinister, and curious, and definitely put me in a mood to delve deeper into the steam punk genre. I loved the clever way Lazear mixed fey mythos - both traditional, and her own flair - in with the notion of an alternate 1901 Los Angeles, with air ships, hover-crafts, and other technology that even our modern world doesn't know yet, but we've all dreamed about. Lazear blended all the elements at her disposal in a highly creative way, that, coupled with an irresistibly spirited heroine made me love Innocent Darkness. Magnolia "Noli" Braddock won me over instantly, reminding me of the few times I was mischievous when I was younger. Though Noli has a bad reputation for being a "hoyden," (a willful, trouble-making woman who doesn't fit in with the times or society), it's just that part of her personality that made me adore her so. Noli's mannerisms are ingrained within her and are as much of the story as is anything. She a fighter and yet she also has a soft, wistful side that made me want to protect her, especially once she's sent to a reform school that makes prison look like a vacation. There, Noli's beautiful spirit is trampled by a horrible headmistress and other truly evil characters, to the point that she wishes to escape - and does. Suzanne Lazear whisks Noli - and readers - away to the Otherworld, where we meet an entirely new, entirely devious and seductive cast of characters in the Fey: as untrustworthy as they are beautiful, as quick to twist their words as they are to offer Noli sanctuary. I was entranced with this strange world, and, like Noli, I found myself unable to remember why I wanted to leave. The setting is lush and beautiful, wild and mysterious, and turns Innocent Darkness into a haunting story. The pacing of Innocent Darkness slows some as Noli falls under the spell of both the Otherworld, and Kevighn, her mysterious benefactor. We get a few glimpses into his thoughts and point of view, as well as that of Noli's best friend, Steven "V" Darrow. I will freely admit to having swooned over V on multiple occasions, as well as over his younger brother, James. Both Kevign and V are playing their hands close to the vest with Noli...but each for very different reasons. The two characters were night and day, fantastic foils to one another. Of the two, I loved both their interactions with Noli, but given a boy-next-dooor character like V, I think we can all guess which one I fell the hardest for! There's a sweet love story that blooms between Noli and one of the boys, but who, I won't say. I'm hoping y'all will read this one for yourself! Suzanne Lazear has written a gorgeous story with Innocent Darkness. By the time I finished, I didn't want the adventure to be over. I needed more time with the characters and setting and the atmosphere of Lazear's novel. Luckily, there is a sequel due out in 2013 that continues Noli's story, which is good for me, because I'm quite desperate to find out what happens next. In the Otherworld, nothing is ever quite what it seems, and Innocent Darkness definitely left me hungry for more!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth Wheatley

    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 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 inCharmed Vengeance coming this August!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stéphanie

    Sweet is the first word that comes to mind when it comes to describing INNOCENT DARKNESS. There’s something sweet and innocent about the main character and the story that makes the transition from the mortal world to the fae world almost believable. Almost everything about the novel is original, whether it’s the characters, the setting or magic. As a debut novel, I think the mash-up between steampunk and fairy is unique and works very well to create an engaging story. Magnolia, or Noli as her fri Sweet is the first word that comes to mind when it comes to describing INNOCENT DARKNESS. There’s something sweet and innocent about the main character and the story that makes the transition from the mortal world to the fae world almost believable. Almost everything about the novel is original, whether it’s the characters, the setting or magic. As a debut novel, I think the mash-up between steampunk and fairy is unique and works very well to create an engaging story. Magnolia, or Noli as her friends call her, started off as a normal girl, despite her keen ability to get into trouble. Crashing an unregistered flying car was the last straw, and the police force more or less forced her mother to send her to reform school. However, Findley School is unlike any normal boarding school. They pride themselves in sucking the life out of girls, or the Spark as the fairies like to call it, in order to create “proper” and “marriageable” society ladies. Personally, I would call it brainwashing. Noli’s spirit can only endure so much of this torturous school so she does the only thing she can think of: she decides to run away. When she unknowingly wishes to be “anywhere but here” while sitting in a fairy tree, she’s transported to the Otherworld, the world of fairies. Attracted by her Spark, Kevin Silver, the fairy Queen’s huntsman, follows her in the portal and tries to gain her confidence once on the other side. No ordinary huntsman, Kevin’s quest is to find a girl with strong Spark every seven years in order to sacrifice her to stabilize the magic that bind the Otherworld and all worlds together. Unaware of the threat Kevin poses, Noli still doesn’t entirely trust the fae, especially since he never delivers on his promise to bring her back home to her mother. Steven (or V as Noli likes to call him) is a character I can’t fail to mention. Noli’s childhood best friend, he has secrets of his own and he’ll stop at nothing to bring Noli back home. I admire his tenacity and his dedication to the task, especially since helping a mortal escape the fairy world isn’t a small task. I would love to talk more about him but since I don’t want to ruin the surprise, I’ll let you discover his secrets on your own. Personally, I find steampunk America and fairy elements work well together to create this unforgettable world. I would have liked to have seen more steampunk elements but since a lot of the story was set in the fairy world, the author was restricted a little bit on that front. I find it interesting that the author used Los Angeles and San Francisco as the settings for the novel instead of using the typical Victorian London that so many others use. The writing is still a bit raw and could use a little work but overall, I found INNOCENT DARKNESS to be an engaging read. Every little element of the book combine to make an excellent young adult read that I would recommend it to anyone who likes the genre. I will definitively read the rest of the series, especially since the ending of INNOCENT DARKNESS sets us up for a interesting sequel. What do you think? Do you find fairy and steampunk work well together? ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨°º©©º°¨¨¨¨¨¨¨°º©©º°¨¨¨¨¨¨ Find this and other reviews on Tynga's Reviews

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    When your favorite part of the book is the front cover, that's a pretty big sign there's a problem. But well, some books just don't fit you. And unfortunately Innocent Darkness didn't fit me. I'll try to make this quick, so it's not a super duper crazy rant. I loved the idea of Steampunk meets Faeries. However in this case, I feel like the fey aspect overrode the Steampunk so much that they didn't work well together. The development of the Steampunk aspect was very little and almost seemed to be When your favorite part of the book is the front cover, that's a pretty big sign there's a problem. But well, some books just don't fit you. And unfortunately Innocent Darkness didn't fit me. I'll try to make this quick, so it's not a super duper crazy rant. I loved the idea of Steampunk meets Faeries. However in this case, I feel like the fey aspect overrode the Steampunk so much that they didn't work well together. The development of the Steampunk aspect was very little and almost seemed to be taken for granted. We never got to know the world. How it worked, how it runs, it was just..a world we were living in. And the fey part was even more so. There were these random words in there used regularly, such as hoyden. As the reader, I felt like I already had to know certain aspects and what things meant in regards to the fey before I read the book. Maybe these worlds didn't work because they were thrown together. Maybe for others it does work! But for me, I had too many questions and not enough were answered. So while the lack of world building made it hard for me to fully immerse myself in the story, I think that the main problem I had was connecting with the characters. Any of them for that matter. Noli came through a bit strange, and hypocritical at times. She was stubborn one minute and almost blubbery the next, and frankly I found her quite childish. I really wanted to like her, and so it saddens me that I couldn't. The rest of the cast wasn't any different. Sure, they have interesting names and faces that have to interact with Noli, but I couldn't find anything to really endear me too them. The queen didn't seem to live up to somet of the things said about her, Kevign was very disturbing for my tastes, and the romantic interest fell flat. *sigh* These characters have so much potential and I'm sorry I couldn't connect with them. The plot had a chance at redeeming this book. A very interesting conflict is raised in the beginning and for the first little bit I was honestly interested, but unfortunately like the rest of the book, it felt short. I must be getting pickier or soemthing. To me the way it played out felt dragged on and on till the end when we go out with a bibbidi-bobbidi-boo and Happily Ever After. It was great and all, but I needed to be able to feel like the HEA was justified. And in this case, I didn't get that. So I'm unfortunatley left to conclude that this book didn't work for me. I'm sad to admit it, but that's the truth. I know this book has been enjoyed by quite a few people, so maybe this will be up your alley! Content: Moderate (view spoiler)[[kissing, a man has man perverted thoughts about women. characters are chaste, but sleep in bed together. it is known that some characters are not chaste.] (hide spoiler)] **For more reviews, visit me @ Book Haven Extraordinaire**

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    This curious tale set in an alternative world in the early 20th century has romance, magic, a touch of steam powered technology and some brutal reality. Even in these enlightened times there were restrictions on women. So, when Noli, Magnolia Braddock, and her best friend V, Steven Darrow, take up a Pixymobile she had repaired there are disastrous effects. After a high speed chase with the police, she wrecked it and was sent to a boarding school for young women of high spirits. But the school wa This curious tale set in an alternative world in the early 20th century has romance, magic, a touch of steam powered technology and some brutal reality. Even in these enlightened times there were restrictions on women. So, when Noli, Magnolia Braddock, and her best friend V, Steven Darrow, take up a Pixymobile she had repaired there are disastrous effects. After a high speed chase with the police, she wrecked it and was sent to a boarding school for young women of high spirits. But the school was far from instructional; it was an abusive detention center where young women were subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse with the excuse of rehabilitating them for society. After being isolated and drugged for trying to help a friend, Noli escapes to a favorite tree in the garden and makes a wish that transports her into the Otherworld and straight into the hands of Kevighn Silver a lascivious, opium smoking fairy. Otherworld is a magical realm of fairies that depends on the mortal world for its very existence. Once every seven years Kevighn Silver, a huntsman who enjoys the darker pleasures of the mortal world, is sent into the world of mortals to find a young human woman that can save his world. And this time he finds Noli. She has a zest for life and creative talents that make her perfect for Kevighn’s mission, but he doesn’t count on Noli herself who isn’t so easily seduced or V, who has made himself her protector. This coming of age story has some spunky characters and some that were just plain despicable but there were enough twists and turns to keep me reading. Noli is very much a teenager and fluctuates in her affection between the two young men vying for her attention. The Finley House setting has a deal of descriptive abuse that I don’t feel moved the story forward. This tale is more fantasy than Steampunk considering that the major portion of the book takes place in a fantasy realm with only a few elements of Steampunk technology. Innocent Darkness is best suited to older teens with an interest in historical fiction, have a passing interest in Steampunk and enjoy the world of the Fae, magic, romance and can handle a grittier look at the times, more descriptive sex and less then angelic fairies. Even though “The End” rests at the completion of this story, I am in hopes this may be the beginning of a series that will answer some of the questions left behind at the end of this book. I recommend this book for older teens 16 years and up.

  29. 4 out of 5

    V.J. Chambers

    I picked up Innocent Darkness last week, but I didn't get around to reading it until last night. I couldn't put it down. There's very little not to love about this YA read. To begin with, you've got a spunky lead who doesn't want to be proper. Got to love stories like that. Secondly, there's a whole very Jane Eyre sequence in a boarding school/reform school. (Honestly, that's the element in the blurb that made me pick this up.) The truth is, of course, that Noli really isn't a bad girl. She only l I picked up Innocent Darkness last week, but I didn't get around to reading it until last night. I couldn't put it down. There's very little not to love about this YA read. To begin with, you've got a spunky lead who doesn't want to be proper. Got to love stories like that. Secondly, there's a whole very Jane Eyre sequence in a boarding school/reform school. (Honestly, that's the element in the blurb that made me pick this up.) The truth is, of course, that Noli really isn't a bad girl. She only lives in a bad society, and the entire sequence is almost reminiscent of Dickens. Then of course, we have the shift into Faerie. Some other reviewers said this shift didn't work for them. And I will admit, I was a little worried. Until we got into Kevighn Silver's head. And realized that in addition to all the other great stuff, we had a typical rake-is-reformed-by-the-love-of-a-good-woman story going on too. And just when that was getting good... Love triangle! Sometimes it feels like YA books are phoning the love triangles in. But this one is quite well done. For one thing, while the reader is torn between Kevighn and V, having seen inside both their heads, Noli really isn't. She makes a fairly decisive choice, and it makes sense given what she's seen of the boys' actions. Also, fun faery politics. I love me a book with faeries, and this one is creative and also true to tradition. The queen is a really intriguing character. Finally, I really appreciated how sex positive this book was, even though it was set in a time period in which conventions were different. Except for a few clearly bad characters, female sexuality is treated as normal, natural, and fun. I appreciated that the boy characters were not insta-mature prudes who were always pushing away the protag and making her wait. While there is a bit of boy-stopping-girl action here, it actually has a good reason in terms of the plot. *Little spoilerific coming up...* If you're worried, Noli does escape the book with her V-card intact. But...there's freaking oral sex in this book, and it was awesome and brave and not at all graphic and very cool. Hats off to the author. I can't think of a better message for teenage girls. Sex is natural. Sex is good. (Sometimes George Michael just gets there first.) Overall, loved the book, can't wait for the sequel. Highly recommended.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Caedy Eries

    Title: Innocent Darkness Author: Suzanne Lazear Format: E-book - Galley Read: May 13-14 2012 Rating: 3.5/5 Recommend: Maybe. Summary: This book has a unique premise: Steampunk faerie tale. Magnolia has been sent to a school for troublesome girls, but ultimately she is broken out of the school with the aid of a Faerie. She is slated to be the sacrificial lamb to save Otherworld. Review: I was given this book as an ARC/Galley copy from Netgalley, and the prospect of Steampunk mixed with faerie did seem i Title: Innocent Darkness Author: Suzanne Lazear Format: E-book - Galley Read: May 13-14 2012 Rating: 3.5/5 Recommend: Maybe. Summary: This book has a unique premise: Steampunk faerie tale. Magnolia has been sent to a school for troublesome girls, but ultimately she is broken out of the school with the aid of a Faerie. She is slated to be the sacrificial lamb to save Otherworld. Review: I was given this book as an ARC/Galley copy from Netgalley, and the prospect of Steampunk mixed with faerie did seem intriguing especially since it raises so many questions about how the two would intermingle especially with Fae being known for having a strong allergic reaction to all things iron and frowning on the inclusion of too much mortal world technology. There were things that I liked in this book and things that irritated me with this book. Multiple names for each character tended to get confusing, especially since each character had a nickname and their actual name but went by one or another name throughout the entirety of the book. That was one of the things that rubbed me the wrong way, and I also disliked the sudden drop off of the steampunk part of the story. The devices that were used at the beginning of the story were among my favorite and it upset me that once things shifted there was little to no more steampunk influence on the story. Okay, so Noli is a hoyden, but there was no closure given to the harsh and unacceptable treatment she'd received at the school. It kinda irked me that there were no lasting, lingering effects (as their should have been from such treatment) and everything was suddenly overshadowed by the fact that she had to be sacrificed to save Otherworld, and ultimately the romance took over as well. While, I do like a good romance, it to me is not something that should have taken center stage when there were more pressing issues that needed to be dealt with. Will I continue to read this series? I am on the fence about picking up the second book simply because there was a lot that had left me wanting with this one. We will see, I may pick it up just to see what twists are in it and if there is further inclusion of the steampunk or if it has merely turned into another faerie story.

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