* THIS IS A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW! *
Today's willing victim: The Dark Divine, brainchild of debut author Bree Despain
Synopsis from Bree's website:
Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.
As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.
Donna: When I started The Dark Divine, I had no idea what to expect. The back of the book reads like the ultimate movie teaser – A Prodigal Son. A Dangerous Love. A Deadly Secret. WHAT’S THE SECRET? Does it have something to do with a floating girl with purple toenails? Answer: Nope. But it’s even better than fancy nail polish!
Frankie: It is, although hang on one second here. Purple toenails…hawt! Also, the cover, beautiful. And we’re not the only ones who think so… But let’s talk about what’s inside the cover. This story was so refreshing and different from so many other YA paranormal romances I’d read this year.
D: I agree! Can we start with characters? I really loved the Divine family -- they’re like the Camdens with a dark, realistic side. Roll call! Pastor Divine – the super-dedicated, weight-of-the-world-on-his-shoulders patriarch. Mrs. Divine – the perfectionist who must keep up appearances and cooks a lot. Charity – younger sister…mostly just there. Jude – oldest brother, hottie saint in the making. Baby James – toddler, fond of blankie. And Grace – oldest girl, artist, fearless, loyal…and falling head over heels for Daniel Kalbi.
F: Ah, Mr. Kalbi. Daniel was my favorite kind of guy. Hot, strong, tortured, dealing with his inner demons, literally and figuratively…
D: I know! But no spoilers here. And he genuinely cared for Grace—he had his secrets, but he didn’t play any games. They were childhood best friends, along with Jude, so I bought the intensity of their romance immediately.
F: Yes. You could definitely feel the connection between them, strengthened by their past history. What I also appreciated was when Daniel had some of his early antagonistic moments, there was more of a sense of his picking up where they left off as kids, rather than coming across as a beautiful jerk with no purpose.
D: A line that perfectly shows this – In a flashback, 12-year-old Daniel dares an 11-year-old Grace to kiss him. Grace narrates: "I wanted to kiss him with all the longing in my eleven-and-a-half-year-old heart, and I knew he knew it."
F: Good quote choice, Donna, and nice flashback. Let’s talk about Bree’s handling of time. She had a very unique way of passing the time and jumping back with flashbacks. Rather than relying on a straightforward timeline to tell her story or more ho-hum transitions like “when winter came…” or “four days later…” Bree just spelled out the time for you at the start of the section. So there was never any question about where we were, what time it was, if we were in the past or present. I liked that. It was refreshing. Like sprite.
D: You’re such a weirdo.
D: ANYWAY… I felt like the development of the plot was strong, too. Technically, it took awhile to get into the thick of the action and the aforementioned “secret,” but the beginning really established the characters and their relationships, so by the time we got to the action, it MEANT something. (Oh Daniel… sigh. You’re so dreamy.) What I love love loved about Grace was that she insisted upon answers for all the mysterious happenings.
F: Grace was not passive at all. I loved that she never sat back and let the story happen to her. She was brave enough to go out searching for whatever answers she didn’t have and if someone was in trouble, like on Thanksgiving…Grace never shied away.
D: And when someone promised her answers and didn’t deliver, she would be right there, tapping them on the shoulder, like “Um excuse me, but how about telling me now?” And I mean that “excuse me” in the least sarcastic way possible. Throughout the whole novel, sexy Daniel temptation and all, Grace remained a true Christian main character…WITHOUT being preachy. (Plus it's so funny when she actually curses once.)
F: Ooh let’s talk about religion for a minute. I really enjoyed the way religion was a part of this novel and utilized to further the plot and character development, though it was not by any means a religious novel. One thing that I often wonder about in many paranormals that deal with good and evil is, how does the greater spiritual world figure into the story? What do the characters believe? And Bree provided us with a lot of answers. Want to know something else pretty cool?
D: Do I have a choice?
F: Hmmmm, no. Ok, one thing that I sometimes wonder about in novels is the accuracy of the internet and Google searches.
D: No professor mode!
F: I’m not in professor mode! Hear me out. Seriously, when you are dealing with ancient evil and myths come to life, I kind of like my characters to deal with ancient sources. And it was really cool how Grace got ahold of some primary sources that helped her solve the mystery.
D: She did Google, too! But yes, for the real answers, she went back to the beginning. And without giving anything away, Bree upped the stakes and gave Grace some really tough choices to make by the end.
F: And to quote the back cover… “As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and have to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul.” Let me just say, that when they say her soul is at stake, they mean it!
D: I know! The end just…flipped everything on its head. I loved it, and I totally respected Bree for figuring out this perfect ending. It allowed the book to stand on its own, but left me dying for a sequel! And I mean WOW…the plot of the sequel will be amazing.
F: Ummmm, yeah, please send sequel ASAP. Bree, I have to hand it to you. I loved this book, but when I read the end, I LOVED this book and I can’t wait to read what’s next. So I guess this brings us to the end…le sad. It came too quickly.
D: You know what else is arriving quickly? The Dark Divine’s release date! December 22nd, people!
F: Just in time for the holidays… hint, hint perfect present…
D: Don’t wait for divine intervention – go pre-order this book NOW!
F: Quality, Donna, quality.
D: [Bows.] The Romantic Times is also previewing 6 chapters of The Dark Divine, one per week til the release. Currently, you can check out chapters one, two, and three and get yourself hooked. But before you go, we have a little divine intervention up our sleeves … IT’S TIME FOR A CONTEST!!!
The Divine Intervention Contest
~ Ask and Thou Shalt Receive ~The FNC was thrilled when the lovely Egmont publicity people (hi, publicity people!) and Bree’s wonderful editor, Greg Ferguson, graced us with an advanced copy of The Dark Divine.
And now it can be yours!!!
Step 1: Become a follower (what’s taken you so long, anyway?) if you aren't already (hi, current followers!).
Comment below about ANYTHING -- this co-review, your TBR pile, the weather, your dog, your grandma, or even what you’re looking forward to most about The Dark Divine! (But it has to be a genuine comment.)
+1 – comment on Bree’s fabulous interview
+1 – link to this contest via post, sidebar, Twitter, or Facebook (leave us a link!)
(For a total of three entries.)
Contest ends 12/15 at 11:59pm EST.
The Fine Print:
Contest is open worldwide. Winner will be contacted by email at the close of contest. If you do not leave your email address in your comment, it is your responsibility to check back at the FNC blog to see if you've won. You have 72 hours to claim your prize, or an alternate winner will be chosen.