The Better Part of Darkness

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay
Charlie Madigan #1

Atlanta: it's the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil....

Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She's recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.'s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim — but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?

Charlie lives a very interesting life. She's a single mother to her daughter Emma, as well as a cop on the Integration Task Force. Her partner, Hank, is a siren who can compel anyone just with the sound of his voice. Together they hunt down the things that go bump in the night, all while tying to stay within the confines of the law. Of course that job hasn't been easy since Charlie died, and was brought back. Things aren't quite right with her, which becomes more apparent as she continues to have unexplained rages. Meanwhile a new drug called ash is out on the streets, and it's deadly. When things hit a little too close to home, Charlie throws everything she has into finding out who is responsible for the ash, but will that be enough?

The best thing about The Better Part of Darkness was the great cast of characters, especially Charlie. By her being a single mother to a preteen, it brought a completely different angle to the genre. Most Urban Fantasy books feature a heroine that doesn't have children, and if they do, then the child comes later. Charlie really had to work hard to balance being a mother with being on the front lines fighting paranormal crime. This struggle made everything so much more realistic, and I really enjoyed seeing the new angle. You can just feel how much at war she is with herself in trying to make the best choices, as every mother does at some point. I just thought it was nice to get to see this side of things for once.

I may be reading too much into things, but I felt there was a major connection between Charlie and Hank. Granted, it is nothing more than a potential right now, but I just couldn't help hoping for more than just a deep friendship between them. To be realistic, I understand that anything will be slow going considering the fact that they are partners, which could make things a little tricky in the work department. Also there is the issue with her ex-husband wanting her back, and her continued feelings for him despite his past actions. So, like I said, nothing will happen immediately, if at all, but I can't help crossing my fingers for the future.

The Better Part of Darkness was a really enjoyable read. The world, while complex, was very easy to get immersed in. Even the most minor characters are full of depth, making for a very enriching read. To be honest, it has a been a long while since I have read a book with such a short "learning curve" when it came to the world it exists in. I am very eager to get my hands on the next books. The ending left things on very shaky ground, with the promise of plenty of action to come. I recommend The Better Part of Darkness to anyone who enjoys a good Urban Fantasy with a dose of realism to make for a well rounded read.

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The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan, Book 1)

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