The man of her dreams might be the cause of her nightmares.
Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as- sin incubus searching for his sister, convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.
I have to admit the reason it took me so long to pick this book up had to do with the idea of an enchanted iPod and a horny miniature unicorn. When I read reviews that mentioned these elements of the story, I immediately thought…not me. I was so very wrong. Yes, there is an enchanted iPod and yes there is a horny unicorn, but trust me, it works. A Brush of Darkness is dark, exciting, and romantic in a very complex way, with wonderful touches of humor and some well-timed snark.
Abby Sinclair, a human with a haunted past, is the TouchStone for a powerful Fey, Moira. A Touchstone is a human that acts as a tie or an anchor to the mortal world. Without one, the fey or OtherFolk, can only come to the mortal world during certain hours via the Crossroads. Moira is the Protectorate of the OtherFolk in the mortal realm, basically she’s the law, and she helps maintain the balance between those of the Light (angels and such) and those of the dark (daemons and vampires, etc). The only problem is Moira is missing and Abby has no idea where she’s gone or when she’ll be back. She has to act as Moira’s representative when she is gone and that’s hard to do when you have no idea what the heck is going on. When a beautiful incubus named Brystion comes looking for help for his missing sister and other succubi who have been kidnapped and murdered, it becomes apparent that there is a connection between Moira’s disappearance and Brystion’s sister. It’s a race against time to find the answers and Abby has to learn the rules quickly if she wants to save her friend and, eventually, herself.
The author, Allison Pang, is a gamer and like any good RPG player, she knows the rules of the world aren’t going to be so easily laid out for you. You have to learn them on your own. Sometimes the hard way. She transfers that idea to the world she creates in A Brush of Darkness. Abby is neck deep in the happenings of the OtherFolk and she has not one iota of a clue about what’s going on around her. And, to a certain extent, neither do you. The complex world is set out at a very deliberate pace. You uncover and discover things along with Abby. It’s complicated and during the first half of the book I found myself having to go back and re-read passages to make sure I understood everything. But that’s ok because the rich imagery and originality of the world sucked me in from the start, pulling me in deeper and deeper until the complexity didn’t matter anymore. I just wanted to keep learning more.
This book is categorized as an urban fantasy but it feels more like a paranormal romance. The majority of the book is taken up by the developing relationship between Abby and Brystion, and it’s a complicated one at that. There’s a fundamental lack of trust between the two and I found this fascinating. I can’t remember reading a PNR in which I honestly wasn’t sure whether I should trust the hero or main love interest. Brystion is an incubus. He’s all lust and seduction so he manifests the desires of others. It’s what he is. Is he true or just what you want him to be? And can Abby love him for what he is or is she just manifesting what she wants him to be? Such an interesting dynamic. At the heart of their relationship I think there’s love but is there trust? Not so sure. These are both characters that are broken in their own ways, alone and closed off; I’m not sure if these two can find happiness in each other. But I want them to.
By the second half of the book the mystery of Moira moves full speed ahead and I really couldn’t put it down. The resolution felt a bit complicated and I wasn’t really sure I knew all the answers or the “why?” of it all. I had to re-read a couple of the explanations to get it but, again, that’s fine. The complexity of this world and the relationships of the people in it are what drew me in, and, honestly, what sent me back. As soon as I finished, I downloaded the next in the series. Abby and Brystion have me hooked.