Title: Dark Child (Episodes 1-3)
Author: Adina West
Series: Serialised Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Summary (from Goodreads)
Kat can run a marathon without breaking a sweat. Catch anything you throw at her. Differentiate blood types by smell alone. And she’s spent years hiding the fact. But secrets from the past have a way of slipping out when least expected … and a simple blood test is enough to turn her quiet life in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains upside down forever …
Pathology technician Kat Chanter isn’t looking for trouble. On a good day, the most exciting thing in her life is the iridescent violet nail varnish on her housemate Tiffany’s manicured fingers. But lately, Kat’s been craving raw meat, and her dreams – always weird – are getting so realistic it’s scary. When she visits a psychic she’s told her life is about to change forever. Kat isn’t so sure change is a part of her plan, but a blood test at work raises more questions about her unique heritage she has no idea how to answer, so when a fabulous job offer comes her way – one that will give her the chance to research others just like her – she’s tempted to say yes and make the move to New York.
Will her dream job bring answers to all her questions or will it lead her into more trouble than she could ever imagine?
This is my first encounter with a serialised novel. I’ve heard of a few before, but never read one. I’m the sort of person who records TV series and watches them in big chunks over a couple of days. I don’t like waiting, and I have a bad memory, so serialisation doesn’t do me many favours, especially as books don’t have handy ‘Previously on…’ catch up segments.
My reading of this hasn’t perfectly reflected the experience of reading a serial, as I had parts 1 through 3 in one bunch, so it’s only now that I’ve read all three that I’m left hanging on the edge of a cliff, waiting for the next. When I get my mitts on those, I’ll be able to comment on how well the story carried forwards across the gaps between parts.
But, for now:
Part One: The first part is mostly dedicated to the establishment of the main character and the world. There are some tantalising suggestions of a world beyond the ordinary, and plenty of foreshadowing for future events, but as with all ‘establishing’ sections of books, things are a little slow, and the cliffhanger at the end wouldn’t necessarily be enough to have you hanging on for the next instalment. It’s not a fault of the writing, which is good, or even the structure – everything is necessary, it’s just that things hadn’t had enough room to really start getting interesting before the serialisation made it necessary to cut off.
Part Two: Things pick up much faster in this instalment, with the much needed injection of more palpable threat in the shape of some hunters chasing Kat through New York. New character Char is interesting and the plot starts moving towards the answers I now really want. The cliffhanger ending works much better this time (though it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise) and I can imagine a few readers frustratedly wishing for the third instalment.
Part Three: Things really pick up in this instalment, with some much needed answers given and a few new characters introduced. There are hints of political intrigue and a wider reaching threat that ratchet up the tension as well as fleshing out the world that Kat inhabits. The outside threads of the story are brought more firmly into play, with characters being brought together, promising some interesting encounters in the next instalment.
I’m still not convinced by the format, but the story itself is engaging, with good characters and an interesting twist on what could easily be considered a much overdone mythology. I look forwards to the next two instalments.