REVIEW: Into the Shadow by Christina Dodd
Dear Ms. Dodd:
You are a very polished and talented writer and this entry into the Darkness Chosen series is as fast paced and readable as the others. Adrik Wilder left his family at age 17, became one of the most feared mercenaries in the world, leading a tribe of outlaws, all vying to be badder and meaner than the next. He’s settled in around the borders of Tibet and Nepal where he, as Warlord, pulls off daring raids that makes him and his dysfunctional band of bad men rich.
Karen Sonnet is the developer of adventure hotel chains. Think HGTV extreme homes only multi family dwellings. Homes in the most remote, hard to get to regions that cater to providing the thrill of a lifetime. Karen finds hers project, a new hotel on Mount Anaya set in the Himalayas, suffering the worst of luck. It’s almost like the mountain is cursed like the locals suggest. But Karen is determined to stay. She never fails. She can’t. She has to live up to the impossible expectations of her father, Jackson Sonnet, who has never given her one shred of approval. Every night, though, a secret lover comes to her and takes her body to heights unknown.
When Karen finds out her secret lover is some mercenary, she tries to flee him, but he captures her, subdues her, ties her to the bed for weeks and has his wicked way until a fight amongst mercenaries forces Adrik to let her flee. He promises to find her again.
As I said in the introduction, this is smoothly written, the pace is good, and the pages almost turn themselves, but I had some real issues with the parts of the story that were written and shown to the reader and the parts that were told to the reader.
It takes 13 chapters to set up the story. While it was 13 chapters of interesting backstory, it was backstory nonetheless. We get to see a lot of sex, blowing up, and fighting but the real emotional development, particularly for Adrik takes place completely off screen. The truth is that all the best parts, I felt, were summarized and spoon fed to me in a two paragraph flashback fashion. Adrik came to us readers as an animal and then came to us reformed. But we never got to see, bear witness to, the transformative process.
I thought that for all the build up of Karen being strong and capable, she was shown to be nothing against Adrik. He’s always, ALWAYS, in control. Yes, she can fight, build hotels, and be physically strong, but she wasn’t emotionally strong. Adrik easily manipulated her. His magical groin wand had the ultimate power over her so that even though she knew that he was a dangerous mercenary and potentially life threatening, the potency of his body was too much for her to turn away from.
I also found the dialogue of Adrik to tend toward floridity which wasn’t in keeping with his minute internal monologues. I actually never got a feel for Adrik at all. Was he the strong silent type or was he super emotional given to flowery speeches? I saw both and neither seemed very consistent. I think he was whatever the story needed him to be at the time to move the plot along or provide an emotional punch.
There was a plot point that I thought was kind of glossed over and that was Adrik’s post mercenary money making venture in which he develops an Alternate Reality computer game in one year. I doubt even a genius programmer could come up with this in a year. Ask anyone who waited years for the release of say, Riven or the next entry of Tomb Raider. (No mocking of my choice of video games).
There’s no question that you are a great storyteller. I just longed for more emotional depth. I saw it toward the end when Adrik was broken, when that part of the story was told, I was really moved and it actually worked to make me disappointed I hadn’t gotten more of that part of the story. C+