I love urban fantasy. I am a huge fan of Kim Harrison, Karen Chance, and Patricia Briggs among many others. One of the best things about urban fantasy is that they just keep on coming. I love to get attached to characters and anticipate a new book year after year. There is nothing better than a kick ass heroine in her otherworldly environment. This is why I was drawn to The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay; I was intrigued through good reviews I’d read and, of course, it was urban fantasy.
In The Better Part of Darkness, Charlie Madigan is a divorced cop with a daughter. Her story takes place in Atlanta which has become the epicenter of “alien”/human relations. There is a deadly otherworldly drug on the street killing people and Charlie and her trusted, specially-skilled partner Hank must do whatever it takes to figure out where it came from and stop it in its tracks. The drug hits home for Charlie and she must fight to keep her family safe.
Charlie as a heroine didn’t do it for me. She was strong, witty, emotional when she needed to be and kick ass, but I didn’t like her. I’m not exactly sure why. I think initially I couldn’t relate to her being a mother of a teenage daughter. As a young woman in her twenties, kids are the LAST thing on my mind and the idea of procreating kind of makes me want to squirm. So it’s safe to say I wanted to gag when the inner mother dialogue came into play. I can usually get into a character no matter the age or stage in life but for some reason Charlie just really irked me.
Regardless, the novel took off at a very nice pace. There was a juicy and passionate encounter between Charlie and her recent ex-husband but it was heartbreakingly short. In fact, I was about to put the book down for good but that short scene was the saving grace to me finishing the book. It was neat to see Atlanta through Charlie’s eyes since I used to live near there so I could totally imagine what it looked like when she mentioned the underground. It all fit very well.
I absolutely loved her partner Hank. As the only possibility for saving this series, Hank is a siren with the special skill of persuasion through power in his voice and did I mention he is extremely caring and sexy. I LOVED him. There was a wee bit of sexual tension between Charlie and Hank so it could lead to good things. I thought Gay did a good job being creative when crafting her world. Hank was one of her better ideas.
However, I didn’t find the emotions and dialogue to be very convincing. At one point Charlie’s daughter is kidnapped and Charlie needs to find her but she sort of cries and mopes around for awhile. I wanted to yell “GO GET HER!!” Eventually, she does but it was extremely frustrating. Also, there’s a part where a very crucial, important character dies and she reacts in the most bizarre way. She just goes with the new changes. Shouldn’t she be sad or something? It made no sense to me. It was all very odd.
All in all, I didn’t really like this book but it wasn’t altogether horrible either. I would argue it needs a lot of growth and tweaking in the writing. The plot was there and there are a lot of very intriguing characters to build upon, so there is potential. If I ever get a chance to pick up the next installment, I may see if it gets any better, but I’m not counting on it. There are so many other better urban fantasies out there.