Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Lost Saint, A Dark Divine Novel by Bree Despain (a book review)

Daniel and Grace are back for the second installment of the Dark Divine novels.  The balance of power has now shifted.  Grace has freed Daniel of the werewolf curse passed down to him from his diabolical father.  In the process, she became infected herself.  She is now the one with extraordinary abilities and Daniel is left—well, normal.  Her family is crumbling from the disappearance of her brother, Jude, and a quest to find him is underway.  After a strange phone call, presumably from Jude, Daniel starts acting oddly, withdrawing from Grace and lying to her.  Left to fend for herself with the self-seeking call of the wolf within her, she meets Talbot.  Hunky and hot and a bit of a wolf himself, he picks up training Grace to use her abilities where Daniel left off.
I discovered this series through an Amazon recommendation for the author’s first book The Dark Divine.  Curious, I looked up her website and kind of fell in love with the path by which she became a published writer.  Check her out: http://www.breedespain.com/about.html.  I admit I was not optimistic about the first pages of The Dark Divine.  You see, the protagonist, Grace Divine, is a preacher’s kid.  I said to myself, “Here we go again.  Another piece of literature to bash Christianity.”  Growing up, my best friend was a PK and I had yet to see a realistic media depiction of my sweet, kind, and slightly na├»ve best friend.  But Ms. Despain surprised me.  With tears rolling down my cheeks from the unexpected parallel of the prodigal son (I am forever a sucker for a redemption story), I discovered this author has done the unusual—combined faith with the paranormal. And no, you will certainly not find this series in any Christian bookstore; nor will the majority of non-Christians be offended by her interjections of faith as she depicts a supernatural story affecting a pastor’s family.   
Now that I’ve unabashedly admitted my adoration for this series and author, let me point out a bit of constructive criticism, because—well, because I just have to.  The first book was a bit more…dark.  Let’s say it was a deep 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate.  Anyone who knows me, knows I like my paranormal with one foot in, and then out, and then back in, the dark side.  Star Wars meets the hokey pokey.  This book felt a little lighter to me, perhaps a lovely semi-sweet chocolate, palatable to a greater population of partakers.  Here the main character, Grace, has a self-seeking voice inside her head calling to her to act in a manner she would never normally act, like an imaginary little devil perched on her shoulder.  A perfect place for literary tension.  I would have liked to have seen the author wade into slightly deeper, murkier waters with the theme.  The title of the next release, The Savage Grace (currently slated for release December 2011), tells me I might just get what I’m looking for.
Overall, I’d recommend this series to anyone with an interest in the fantastical.  It’s a relatively clean read, especially considering the genre, with minimal foul language.  Ms. Despain has found a good balance in the paranormal world, combining faith, action sequences, suspense, and romance (with just a dash of steamy).  As with all fantasy, I strongly suggest picking up (or downloading) the first book first—The Dark Divine, then The Lost Saint.  Good beach reads.  Good series for adults to read along with their teens.  I myself am anxiously awaiting the next installment.  J

          -- Suzi Ryan