Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 528 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Dark Heavens Trilogy
Source: ARC through Amazon Vine
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
This is the first book in the Dark Heavens trilogy. This is a tough review for me to write because I am a bit torn about this book. I loved the idea and the Chinese mythology…but the writing is just sooooo bad. It’s almost like Chan has trouble with her English and didn’t have a decent editor.
Emma is a native Australian teaching English as a second language in Hong Kong, she also teaches private lessons after hours. John Chen, a client of hers, wants to hire her to be a full time nanny for his daughter Simone. For Emma it’s the chance of a lifetime, she loves teaching Simone and John is paying her really good money. Then Emma finds out that John isn’t exactly human and that her life may be in more danger than she ever dreamed.
Okay let’s start with what I loved about this book. I absolutely loved learning about the Chinese mythology; it was fascinating and super interesting. I loved the characters. Emma is spunky, yet nurturing, and just a neat character. John Chen is amazing; I love that he’s a God yet is so down to earth and love to spend time with his daughter. Simone adds a ton of laughter and fun to the story, she is four years old and an absolute delight to read about.
The gods that flit in and out of their lives are fun to read about. John’s predicament of not being able to take True Form until Simone is grown is an interesting one and lends a fascinating aspect to the story. The tension between John and Emma is delightful, and I was really rooting for them to work things out.
There are a ton of action scenes and lots of martial arts training both of which I enjoy reading about. I loved the exotic settings that the stories take place in as well.
So what’s wrong with this book? Well it is just absolutely horribly written. Hands down it is one of the most awkwardly written books I have ever read. The language and dialogue between characters is very uncomfortable and stilted throughout.
Chan repeats herself a lot which causes the story to move slowly. Chan also uses the same descriptors over and over and over again. Emma is constantly described as cold-hearted…which doesn’t really make sense and sounds awkward. John and Emma constantly say they are fools, people around then call them fools….I get it they are fools. These descriptors are just really awkward and uncomfortable to read. The English sounds very broken throughout and there are a lot of things technically wrong with this book…and by I lot I mean pretty much the whole book.
I kept reading this book in hopes that Chan would find her stride at some point. She just never does…in fact the book got worse the longer I read it. I just loved the idea behind this story so much, I really wanted to love it.
I really really want someone who can actually write to write a book with this idea behind it. Maybe a great urban fantasy writer like Ilona Andrews, Jennifer Estep, or Kim Harrison can cut a deal with Chan and write this awesome story in a way such that it is actually readable.
Overall a pretty bad read. There are some great characters and ideas here; I wanted to love this book. I did enjoy the tension between John and Emma, the mythology, and the action scenes. However, the writing is some of the worst I have read this year. The language is broken, awkward, and stilted. Chan repeats herself over and over using the same adjectives over and over and they are awkward sounding adjectives. The pacing is slow because of Chan’s language and writing struggles.
Maybe future works by Chan will be better written. Chan has some great ideas, she just can’t quite seem to get them on paper in a way that’s readable. Not recommended. Instead check out other urban fantasy such as books by Ilona Andrews, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, or Jennifer Estep.