The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

After divorcing her childhood sweetheart and trying to raise a somewhat precocious daughter about to enter that feared stage known as “teenager” Charlie Madigan has had a rough year. At work, she’s the tough Atlanta cop, ready to service Justice no matter who (or what) stands in her way. Especially after she technically died a year ago. After she was brought back, Charlie has been experiencing strange symptoms – headaches, nightmares, and a smattering magical powers that keep popping up that Charlie can’t even begin to figure out. Charlie’s about to be hit with her toughest case yet after a string of individuals surface who have been dosed with an off-world potent drug, leaving users in a coma-like state and on the verge of death without continued use. As Charlie digs deeper, she finds not only herself but her family caught up in the strange politics and danger of the mysterious off-world societies of Elysia and Charybdon, with corruption extending all the way to the top.

The Better Part of Darkness is another one of those new Urban Fantasy novels that has been generating a lot of buzz. I’m a sucker for a tough heroine and Charlie Madigan seemed to fit the bill nicely. Charlie is tough, believable as a single-mom stretched too thin with the added stress of magic wrecking havoc with her life. I quickly became intrigued with Charlie's story despite the fact that her narrative could have used a little bit more editing to cut out about 100 pages of unnecessary descriptions and rambling IMO. Overall The Better Part of Darkness has a lot of good things going for it. Kelly Gay's Atlanta is rock solid in terms of world building - a city full of excitement with a whiff of danger and magic around every corner. The inclusion of the parallel worlds of Elysia and Charybdon has also given Ms. Gay countless options since both worlds were left mainly a mystery. Not to mention the great set-up of relationships between Charlie, her sister, her partner and countless other folks she meets in her unique line of work.

Although I am not one to complain about my home-town getting some deserved attention, what is up with the recent trend of setting every new UF series in a magic-saturated Atlanta? I've read no less than three new books recently that call Hotlanta home, which is not really a problem but something of a strange coincidence. Thankfully Atlanta is so diverse that the stories don't cross over much, but it's still a bit of a coincidence - maybe Atlanta is kind of like the new New York for dark urban fantasies.
And please isn't this cover for the next Charlie Madigan novel The Darkest Edge of Dawn simply abso-frickin-perfect? Edgy, dynamic: I love it. Just check out those expressive eyebrows! And the smoking gun! And the shattered glass! I need this one for the cover alone.

series reading order:
~ The Better Part of Darkness
~ The Darkest Edge of Dawn (August 2010)

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
The Discriminating Fangirl review
Literary Escapism review
Magical Musings review
Night Owl Reviews
Tempting Persephone review 

book source: my local library

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