Rating: 3.75-4/5 stars
Series: Darkest Powers, Book
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
One of the things that I enjoyed about this series overall was the comparison between Chloe’s schooling as a theater kid working to be a screen writer and the world in which she found herself living. The comparisons between how Chloe would handle a script (thinking it was too cliche for the heroine to hide in a tree while her knight in shining armor was down below protecting her) and how her life was actually unfolding (having to climb a tree so someone else could focus on the fight and not have to worry about protecting her) was well done. It was a stark contrast and showed that sometimes things are cliche for a reason, that in certain situations you can’t help but act a certain way.
It was also an interesting lens through which to view the story. As a reader, you go into a story with a certain kind of skepticism. You understand that the events in the story aren’t real so you give them a little more leeway than you would if something were to happen in your real life. It’s rare that a character in a novel thinks about things this way, yet Armstrong did a great job at making Chloe seem real through this simple act. Where a reader might scoff at something that seemed pretty unbelievable, Chloe does as well.
Having read a decent chunk of Armstrong’s works, I can confidently say that this wasn’t one of my favourites by her. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the read. It’s more that Armstrong has written books that I’ve enjoyed more – published both before and after The Reckoning. I’d probably have given this book a higher rating if I hadn’t binged so much of Armstrong’s writing over the last little bit, but the growth in her writing style was at the forefront of my brain while I read this book. I also had a direct comparison with one of my favourite books of all time by Armstrong (Haunted, review coming soon) which I’ve been coincidentally reading simultaneously and covers similar themes that this series does.
That being said, if you’re interested in reading about teenagers with supernatural powers and them learning how to use them, this could be a fun read for you. As long as you don’t go into this trilogy expecting the most flushed out magic system, I believe you’ll be pleased.
I find it’s important to note that the magic system in this world is well flushed out and defined, but is done more so in the other series that take place in this world. This story is instead a sort of pocket dimension in the world, a taste of life outside of the understood. It’s a place where this world’s magic system is… twisted. And, of course, my love for the Women of the Otherworld series requires me to let you know that that series is where the magic system is the most flushed out. As long as you’ve read that series, the magic in Darkest Powers should make sense to you.
If I hadn’t known there was a companion trilogy to this story, the ending would feel pretty unsatisfying. Sure Chloe and the gang were able to rescue her aunt an get away from the Edison group (for now), but we didn’t get any real resolution. Rae has been taken, presumably by her birth mother, but that just leaves another thread untied. Tori and Simon still don’t know they’re siblings, though Kit’s face tells Chloe that the rumors were true. And everyone has to go on the run again. Really, the only bit of “resolution” we get is between Chloe, Derek, and Simon.
I liked what Armstrong did with this love triangle throughout the series. At first, it looked like Chloe was going to end up with the stereotypical choice – Simon, the popular guy and person who was obviously interested in her. While it is a bit cliche to make Chloe end up with Derek at the end, I believe that Armstrong did this relationship through a natural progression. Chloe started out terrified by Derek but ended up his biggest supporter. I do feel bad for Simon, having to see his brother with the girl he likes, but Simon was extremely gracious about it. I don’t think I’d be so cool about it if it happened to me.
I also enjoyed how Chloe decided she’d had enough of Derek’s shit and stuck to her guns, even after realizing she had a huge crush on Derek. She wasn’t going to allow herself to be in an emotionally abusive relationship where one sad puppy dog look and she forgave him for being a total jerk – and that’s not a jab at him being a werewolf, I’d say the same thing should anyone try to get away with something by looking pitiful. Sure, Derek had been getting away with acting that way his whole life, but that’s not the way to treat someone you’re in a relationship with. I’m glad that Chloe realized this and didn’t let him continue to walk all over her.
I also liked the way that throughout this entire series Derek has turned to Chloe when he was going through his change. Sure this “inconvenienced” her or put her life in danger more than once, but it also showed just how much Derek trusted Chloe. He wouldn’t even let Simon stick around while he was going through his change for fear of what he might think. Yet Chloe was always there for him, always willing to overlook the things that made Derek worry and help ease his change as much as she could.
On a way less serious note, I have to admit I loved Tori and Simon walking in on Derek and Chloe making out in the lab after Derek changed back. Yes, Simon ensured that Derek had put clothes on before anything started between them, but Tori just walked striaght in as if she had every right to. I can only imagine the shocked look on her face.
Speaking of Tori, I loved the progression of her character in this series. While I wouldn’t say she’s transformed into the nicest person ever, as she hasn’t, it was nice to see her become friendlier. It wouldn’t be natural to have the bitchiest character become super sweet in the end, though so many stories use this cop out as a way to tie up loose ends. I do like the fact that Tori and Chloe became friends in their own way. It’ll never be the kind of blindly trusting relationship like Chloe and Rae had, but it’s a more real one. They’ve been through shit together and it made them realize that they didn’t hate each other after all.
It was also interesting to think about Dr. Todd Banks and how his attempts to help out the Edisom group ended up driving him crazy. It’s probable that Royce would have been a touch violent and not all mentally there without the tweaks to his genetics but Banks truly thought it was his fault that Royce did anything to his brother. This guilt led Banks to not only going crazy but to found the group that Andrew was in with the goal to take down the Edison group.
Of course, even after he killed himself, Banks wished he could do more without paying for his crimes. This led to him trying to possess Chloe, tricking her into using her increased powers and let him in. If it weren’t for Derek and her ghost repellant necklace, he might have succeeded. Yes, Chloe is an exceptionally strong necromancer, but that just goes to show why she should have known the truth about her powers all along. If she’d been getting lessons about what to expect Banks never would have gotten the chance to possess her in the first place.
Finally, I just want to say that I feel pretty bad for the adults in this situation. Chloe’s dad thought his schizophrenic daughter had run away and then was led to believe she’d been kidnapped. While both of those things technically happened, it wasn’t the way that he thought they had. As well, Lauren was locked up by the Edison group for trying to help the kids and almost lost Chloe’s trust again when she was trying to help Simon and ensure he didn’t get dehydrated from being drugged. Kit was begging his best friend for any news on his sons and Andrew knew where they’d been for months but was trying to get rid of what he saw as a problem. Yes, Andrew shouldn’t have been such a dick to his supposed best friend, but he definitely didn’t deserve to die over it.
I love the fact that the stories in this world continue on, even after a specific series is over. After the Darkest Powers series we get to experience more in the Darkness Rising trilogy. The magic system gets flushed out in the Women of the Otherworld series. And, most recently, the story continues in Wolf’s Bane. I’m loving my read through of this world and can’t wait to get to Wolf’s Bane in order to see where the world is now.
If you’ve slugged your way through this many of my Armstrong reviews, I’d love to know which one of her books have you enjoyed the most? Do you have a favourite series, a favourite character? Is there something about Armstrong’s writing that you love? What about something that you don’t love?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.
Other reviews from the series: