Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Darkness Watching Review

Wednesday morning edit: Whoops, I forgot this was the first Wednesday of the month, so this won't be much of a Insecure Writers Support Group post.  Right now, my biggest insecurity (other than the worry I might fall off Alex's list), involves all the wonderful books being released by my writer friends.  Books whose words flow better than mine.  Books written many times more quickly than I could ever hope to write.  Books with professional looking covers.  Books that make me wonder if I'll ever finish my book. Etc.

That's enough whining for today.  Time to get back to writing.  Enjoy the regularly scheduled post below.


To celebrate Monday's release of Walking Shadow by Emma Adams, today I'm reviewing Darkness Watching, the first book in the Darkworld Series.    There's more information about this series after the review, along with a Rafflecopter giveaway.

 First, let's take a look at the book blurb.

Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn is one interview away from her future when she first sees the demons. She thinks she's losing her mind, but the truth is far more frightening: she can see into the Darkworld, the home of spirits– and the darkness is staring back.

Desperate to escape the demons, Ash accepts a place at a university in the small town of Blackstone  - little knowing that it isn't coincidence that led her there but the pull of the Venantium, the sorcerers who maintain the barrier keeping demons from crossing from the Darkworld into our own world.

All-night parties, new friendships and a life without rules or limits are all part of the package of student life - but demons never give up, and their focus on Ash has attracted the attention of every sorcerer in the area. Ash is soon caught between her new life and a group of other students with a connection to the Darkworld, who could offer the answers she's looking for. The demons want something from her, and someone is determined to kill her before she can find out what it is.

In a world where darkness lurks beneath the surface, not everyone is what they appear to be...

             The Review        My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Eighteen-year-old Ash doesn’t know it yet, but she’s special. After all, not every university student has to spend their nights fending off shadow creatures and solving magical mysteries.

At first glance, Darkness Watching will seem familiar to readers of this genre. First off, Ash begins seeing scary, purpled-eyed creatures no one else can see. Then she receives an invite to attend Blackstone, a school she doesn’t remember applying to. And once she arrives at the school, it doesn’t take long for her to discover that not only does she have an affinity for magic, but that some of the other students do as well.

But that’s where many of the similarities to other books end. It’s not your typical magically-imbued girl goes off to prep school to battle vampires, werewolves, or the obligatory group of rich snooty girls. It’s not filled with teenage angst and there are no interspecies love triangles. Heck, Blackstone isn’t even a school of magic. This is a simple, yet mystery-filled story about a teenager trying to figure out why weird things are happening to her. There are plenty of twists and turns as she learns who she can trust and who she can’t. She’s not out to save the world, just her own sanity, and quite possibly, her life.

The pacing is good. The story is always moving toward the next mystery, and little time is wasted on fluff that doesn’t drive the story forward. You learn about the Darkworld in bits and pieces. Not so fast as to overwhelm you, but not so slowly you become bored.

What I liked most: Darkness Watching made me feel as if I were back in college again, but with the added bonus of being in England as opposed to Missouri. I admit to being a bit of an Anglophile, so the idea of stomping around pubs, perusing ancient libraries, and exploring cemeteries in England while dabbling in magic ranks pretty high on my wish list, and the author’s writing style left me feeling as if I was right there doing it as opposed to watching a movie. Thanks, Emma.

I also enjoyed the colorful characters, although some of them seemed a little too similar, which meant I occasionally had trouble remembering who was who. Of course, I have that same problem during movies too, so perhaps it’s just me. But a few more distinguishing characteristics might have been nice.

What I didn’t like: My only real problem was that sometimes Ash avoided asking obvious questions about the Darkworld and her abilities, often deciding to keep them to herself for no apparent reason.

My only other complaint was that Ash didn’t seem to spend much time doing schoolwork. Supposedly the first year at University is the easiest, so maybe you really can get away with that, but if the next book in the Darkworld series occurs during her second year, she better spend more time in the library! :)

Oh, did I mention I’m looking forward to the sequel?

 I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When you have a connection to the Darkworld, nowhere is truly safe.

Ashlyn has found a new home in Blackstone, but when a spate of grave robberies across the country spark fears that someone is practicing illegal sorcery, she comes under the radar of the Venantium, the protectors of the Barrier between her world and the Darkworld, who are suspicious of any sorcerer unaware of their origins.

The trouble is, what Ash does know might just get her killed.

Sufferers of the dangerous condition known as the vampire’s curse are being brutally killed, and the latest victim is Leo’s guardian, the ex-head of the Venantium. Ash determines to help Leo find out what’s really going on, but it isn’t long before events are spiralling out of control. The dead are rising from their graves, and the barriers around Blackstone are threatened by a demon which looks exactly like Ash herself…

Amazon   Amazon UK

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And here's more information on the first in the series, Darkness Watching  (Darkworld #1)


“In the vein of Buffy and Supernatural, DARKNESS WATCHING found that perfect balance between the freaky and the fun.” - YA author Jen Estes

"Demons, Sorcerers, evil, and secrets. Could you ask for a better supernatural suspense set-up?...It's full of suspense, danger, evil and dark humor. The plot is original, and completely gripping. From the first page, this book had me hooked." - Rose at 
Desert Rose Reviews

"A suspenseful first part to an intriguing new fantasy series." - 
Sharon Stevenson, supernatural author

“The story is extremely well-written with effortless, flowing prose, and the original magic-user mythology and Darkworld creatures are very entertaining. The author took what might have been over-done premise and twisted it into something very fresh and exciting.” - Lexa Cain, author of Soul Cutter

"This is a wildly different story than any I have read about demons...I loved it!" - Kathy at 
Bookmarks, Spoilers, and Happily-Ever-Afters's Touch: A Darkworld Novella is also available now!

This is a standalone novella, intended as a prequel to the Darkworld series. As it takes place one year before the events of Darkness Watching, it doesn’t contain any spoilers (although it does hint at things which will come into play later in the series).

Freakish powers and staring demon eyes aren’t part of Claudia’s plans for the future – and neither is ending up stuck at the gloomy, isolated University of Blackstone. But bad life decisions are the least of her problems, when a split-second decision to help out another magic-user puts her in the crossfire of both the shadow-beasts and the creepy organisation which hunt them down.

Claudia’s never had to worry about making the right choice before, but every decision matters when you have a Darkworld connection. Soon, she’s going to have to make a choice: turn her back on the crazy and try to live a normal life, or take the monsters down.

But in a world where everyone seems to have secrets, can she really trust her fellow magic-users – or even herself?

Emma spent her childhood creating imaginary worlds to compensate for a disappointingly average reality, so it was probably inevitable that she ended up writing bizarre, fantastical stories. She was born in Birmingham, UK, which she fled at the first opportunity to study English Literature at Lancaster University. In her three years at Lancaster, she hiked up mountains, skydived in Australia, and endured a traumatic episode involving a swarm of bees in the Costa Rican jungle. She also entertained her creative writing group and baffled her tutors by submitting strange fantasy tales featuring dragons and supernatural monsters to workshops. These included her first publication, a rather bleak dystopian piece, and a disturbing story about a homicidal duck (which she hopes will never see the light of day).

Now a reluctant graduate, Emma refuses to settle down and be normal. When not embarking on wild excursions, she edits and proofreads novels for various publishing houses and reads an insane number of books. At the age of 21, she signed a publishing contract with Curiosity Quills Press for the first book in her creepy urban fantasy Darkworld series. DARKNESS WATCHING was published in October 2013, the first in a five-book series.
Emma’s books tend to contain monsters, magic, and wildly inappropriate humour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



  1. Oh wow! I LOVE these covers!!! Gosh, thanks for highlighting this, Ken. Perfect. And I'm lol-ing with your fear to fall off of Alex's list. Too funny. But yeah… I get what you're saying. When I read other work, it's a fine line whether I'm inspired or downright depressed… ;-)

  2. You will write the best possible book you can write, and it'll be in your voice, and it'll be AWESOME. Don't doubt yourself, because you are great. It's easy to sell yourself short, but you're putting effort into honing your craft, and it'll pay off. You can do it!

  3. What cool covers! Congrats!

    Ken, We writers need to be honest with ourselves about our work, but there will always be times we think everyone else's writing is better. That's insecurity talking, not objectivity. Don't let that get you down.

    One cure for it is to read really good fiction, as much as you can get your hands on. It may see like a simple, useless thing, but it's not. Your craft will improve without even consciously doing anything.

    IWSG #151 until Alex culls the list again.

  4. Congrats to Emma!

    Comparing ourselves to others is not constructive. It's hard not to from time to time.

    Some writers writing inspires me. Look for those that do.

    I'm sure your book will give me insecurities. :)

  5. Man, I hear you on the insecurities! I figure we never come out on top when we try to be better at something somebody else does. The only thing we will ever ultimately be best at is having our OWN voice and style. Nobody can be you like you, so work THAT!

    This series sounds interesting.

  6. She's going to be thrilled with that review.
    Don't worry - I won't kick you off the list. You've worked so hard to rise to the top...

  7. What an awesome review! Making comparisons between yourself and writer friends is the fast track to insecurity. I know because I do it all the time. I try to stop, really I do. Sigh. But anyhow- just don't!

  8. Congrats to Emma! Love those covers!

    And a great review!

  9. I know how you feel. While we want to celebrate the successes of others, it's sometimes difficult to watch everyone else publish these amazing books. But don't worry, someday that will be you. And me...hopefully. :)

    Great review, and I love her book covers. Congrats to Emma!!

  10. Stop it! Stop it! Quit comparing. You are special and unique. Know it. Own it. 5 out of 5 stars. That must be some story. I'm sure you ve made her day.

  11. Congrats, Emma!!

    Ken, the worst thing any of us can do is compare ourselves and our writing to anyone else. Seriously. It NEVER makes us feel good. It never helps. It's like a surefire way for e to feel terrible about myself. I avoid it whenever I can. Your books will sound like YOU, and that is something no one else can do. That is precious, and unique, and exactly what it should be.

  12. That book sounds really cool, and the cover is awesome!

    You WILL finish your book! And we all read books that are better than our own. Don't let that slow you down :)

  13. At least you're writing. That puts you ahead of almost everybody on the planet. You're learning too. Next to helping other people, that's my priority. I'm thankful for all you've done for me. You may not even know you prepared me for losing our older cat. She's been gone two weeks now, and we think she hid to die.

    5 stars! I love those covers and want to read them all. Gaa! I want life to let me catch up.

  14. I really enjoyed Darkness Watching too! I'm looking forward to reading her new one when I get the time. Thanks for the great review! :)

  15. I know what you mean. I wonder if I'll ever finish anything I start writing. Maybe the answer is to stop worrying about it and write until I can finish something. Someday, I'll be able to do it. :)

  16. There is only one of you, and you must be the best that you can be.
    As Mr Oscar Wilde put it: 'Be yourself, everyone else is taken.' Love these words.
    Keep at it, Ken. It WILL pay off.

  17. Congratulations to Emma. I love her covers!!! Very eye-catching while still being classy.

  18. Aww, thanks so much for your review! :) I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And thank you to all the commenters, too! ^^

  19. It took me seven or eight years before my first book sold. So don't worry how long your journey is. Enjoy being on it.

    Emma's book sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing your review.

  20. Those covers! What gorgeous covers!!!

    Also, the books sound pretty amazing, too! Thanks for posting a review

  21. Don't all Emma's covers look fabulous. Thanks for highlighting them today, Ken.

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