Review: Dark Descendant

Posted: December 12, 2011 by in Books that are Mediocre (3/5 single_star) Meta: Jenna Black, Urban Fantasy

Nikki Glass is a descendant of Artemis. Yes, that Artemis. But it isn’t until she unwittingly becomes one of the Liberi that she becomes immortal and her powers of the hunt manifest.

The result of this sudden change in status is that the two warring groups of Liberi—who happen to be based in the Washington D.C. area—want her on their side. You see, Liberi are descendants of gods from many different pantheons (Greek, Hindu, Norse, etc.), and have inherited the abilities of their god ancestors. Unfortunately for most of them that doesn’t include a sense of morality or responsibility for the human race and Nikki would be the perfect person to hunt down their enemies. She wants nothing to do with it, but they won’t let her off that easily.

Jenna Black isn’t new to the Urban Fantasy scene, considering her Morgan Kingsley Exorcist novels — there’s a short story from CHICKS KICK BUTT (EBR Review). But here Nikki is less ‘kick butt’ than Black’s previous series, and that seems to be on purpose. Sure she’s a P.I., but not the take-risk type, and as a result this more about how this once normal woman must now cope with a supernatural world.

For the most part Black does pretty well. Nikki is likable (despite feeling a bit Mary Sue-ish), and her attempts to deal with the situation are believable and entertaining enough to read. The Liberi who work for Anderson Kane are the more interesting assortment of beauty, brains, and brawn, each with their unique set of abilities and personality. Black writes in black and white: the bad guys are truly evil and while the good guys aren’t spotless angels, it’s hard to see much grey area. Still, they are entertaining in their own way.

Black’s first person narrative is straightforward and quick paced, despite hiccups in narration, the occasional suspension of belief, and the cliche prose. Black does her best to explain things (for example, why a virgin goddess has descendants in the first place), but it isn’t exactly subtle. There are other oddities like how Nikki’s relationship with her adoptive sister feels awkwardly written, as well as clunky references to Nikki’s emotional baggage.

Nikki is a descendant of the goddess Artemis, and as a result inherits some abilities that are self-evident in DARK DESCENDANT.

But by the end, Black hits her stride and delivers on all her promises in a tidy resolution, even if we’re left with some questions in the end. Even better: no cliffhanger, and the book still suggests a continuing series.

This is your typical Urban Fantasy fare, but promises a new twist a la Rick Riordian. DARK DESCENDANT (Amazon) is a fluffy palate cleanser with some fun ideas. But don’t let yourself get caught up on the details.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: A smattering of stronger profanity
  • Violence: Mostly peril, a few deaths, but the scenes are only moderately graphic
  • Sex: One of the main characters is a descendant of Eros, so there's plenty of strong innuendo and references, but no graphic scenes

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