By Bree Despain
Available now from EgmontUSA
It's odd how you can pick up a book and know exactly what you're getting, but at the same time have no clue. THE DARK DIVINE has a pretty typical paranormal romance set-up, with the innocent girl, the dangerous boy, and the people who are warning her away from the boy. It's a familiar recipe, and for the most part, THE DARK DIVINE hits all of the numbers. (I'm not saying that's a bad thing. If you haven't noticed, I read a lot of this type of book.) Like Maggie Stiefvater's Grace, Bree Despain's Grace escapes the clutches of Enfeebled Heroine Syndrome. And it's how she escapes that gives THE DARK DIVINE its unique and satisfying flavor.
Grace Divine is the daughter of a pastor. We all know what that means: repressed good girl waiting to break free. Er, not so much. Grace has faith. When she sings "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," all other concerns aside, she believes it. She's torn between her brother and her boyfriend, her own guilt in their break-up, and deciding on a truth to believe when everything she hears is subjective. But her real crisis is finding a course of action that allows her to maintain her principles while doing her best for those she cares about.
Christians tend to get a bad rap in contemporary secular fiction, particularly paranormal fiction. It's nice to see a community of Christians who have faults, but are basically nice people who believe in mercy and helping others.
This isn't to say that THE DARK DIVINE is perfect. There's one point where Grace becomes angry with Daniel, and I can see why she would be angry with him, but it seems like her anger was delayed. The bad guy is a bit obvious. But all in all, it's a page-turner, and I cannot wait for the sequel. (Particularly since Despain hinted at other things that go bump in the night, and I can't wait to see her expand the world since she did a great job of explaining a small bit of the mythology.)
If you don't like religion, THE DARK DIVINE probably won't be your thing. (And no, the book never says, "X has it right, everybody else is going to hell.") If you're open to a main character who is religious, and stays religious, in your paranormal, you'll probably enjoy THE DARK DIVINE. It's a promising debut.