Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.

Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very…different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

You can read an excerpt here.


I know what you’re thinking – another black cover, another paranormal YA clone… But happily, Darkness Becomes Her is a compulsively readable story with a fun, gothic take on a paranormal New Orleans. It’s a fast, feisty read that moves at such a good clip it helps you roll with its slightly ridiculous conveniences and contrivances.

The world of New 2 is just fantastic, beautifully detailed with fascinating vignettes of New Orleans history and geography, and populated by a potpurri of supernaturals – witches, vampires, and mythology. There’s nothing shockingly new here, but the mix manages to feel fresh.

Ari is a character that’s easy to like – a foster kid who helps her latest foster parents track down bail bondsman, she isn’t afraid to throw down and has plenty of I-can-handle-it attitude. An adopted kid searching for her past isn’t exactly a novel starting point, but it is effective in shaping her drive. My biggest frustration with Ari – and frankly with all the character work in this story – is how her emotional development was too rushed to be effective. There were a couple of lovely beats, such as the scenes where Ari struggles with lying to her foster parents, who she genuinely cares about, but if you blink you miss them. There was plenty going on – Ari faces a parade of emotional upheavals about what she uncovers – but the story just seemed to breeze right on by all these crucial moments, such that it felt more implied that realized. As a result, the emotional arc of this story lacked coherence and impact – it just never seemed to land.

Plot-wise, the ease of things falling into Ari’s path definitely strained my credulity – the bad guy who shows up right on cue, the ride she needs that just happens to show up exactly when she needs it, and then happens to take her to the place that just happens to be perfect for her, where she instantly feels like she belongs, and of course it just happens to contain the perfect guy for her, who happens to be the only other outcast who can truly understand her… I choked more than a little, especially over the insta-relationships that sprung up between Ari and the group of kids she meets in New 2, who she is suddenly thinking of as her family after about two days, and her insta-insta-boyfriend, who she manages to fall in love with in less than a day. Given that Ari is a foster kid who thinks to herself several times during the narrative that she can’t trust anyone, the ludicrous way she immediately trusts these random strangers, and the speed with which she declares this place “home” – it just lodged in my craw. But with the plot moving forward at breakneck speed, this book can distract you from the contrivances, if you let it – it’s kind of like watching Pirates of the Caribbean 2 or 3. If you stop and think about the plot, it’s utterly ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun. For the most part I managed to roll with it.

If you have a decent grasp of Greek mythology, you’re probably going to get a bit ahead of the mystery, and while there’s plenty of fun action, speed can’t quite cure all ills – some of the situations Ari gets into, she manages to get out of with unbelivable ease, not to mention the ending comes together a tad too easily – but there’s always enough coming at you to keep it interesting, and at the end of the day, it’s still a fun ride.

So despite the fact that this story was rushed, and lacked emotional and relationship credulity, I still honestly was pulled through this story very easily. This book is just catchy, the setting definitely a cut above, and there’s a lot of fun potential for the series moving forward. Keaton is definitely an author to keep an eye on – I just hope there’s more substance and less contrivance the next time around.

Fans of Vampire Academy and The House of Night series, you should definitely check this one out.

Byrt Grade: B+

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Novel Novice says:

Darkness Becomes Her offers a unique and compelling blend of themes from various genres: the supernatural, southern gothic, dystopian and Greek mythology. And while at times, it can feel as if the stability between all these elements is teetering precariously, Keaton deftly maintains a delicate balance throughout the entire book. She makes the chaos of this wild combination work, and the result is a refreshing tale for readers of YA paranormal lit.

25 Hour Books says:

Although it seems from my brief glance on Goodreads that people either loved or hated it…The romance really killed the story for me. The guy went from being a super hot stranger to her boyfriend in a matter of pages. I was confused during the first kiss because I couldn’t understand how she could feel so strongly about someone she just met. It wasn’t even played off as a “love at first sight” or some magical bond (which I can sometimes understand).

Pure Imagination says:

I’ll admit this right here and now. I was not excited to read this book. Not just this book, but pretty much any supernatural/paranormal debuts. Lots of them seem to be uninteresting or unoriginal to me me lately. But from the moment I read the first page of Darkness Becomes Her I was hooked.