A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang
The man of her dreams might be the cause of her nightmares.
Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as- sin incubus searching for his sister, convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.
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A Brush of Darkness is Allison Pang‘s debut novel. It’s been blurbed by writers I admire like Seanan McGuire and Kelly Gay and so I was quite excited to get my hands on the book. I didn’t buy it right away, though, because I didn’t love the cover. The model has dead face and I found it a little off-putting. Plus the outfit makes her look super sexed up in a way I found unappealing. But I just couldn’t resist the idea of a saucy miniature unicorn and so I bought a copy the other day. And then devoured it.
There’s a lot going on in A Brush of Darkness. Abby’s a fun protagonist. She’s got a lot of spunk and sadness, which seems like an odd combination but really works in the book. Her baggage is pretty serious–dead mom, nightmares of her death, locked in a contract with a Fae that she doesn’t really understand–but she takes her obligations seriously and does her best, even when the Fae she’s contracted with disappears, leaving Abby with a magical marketplace to run. Abby gets points for pluck in the face of her own ignorance, an ignorance that would be a huge issue for me if it wasn’t already a big problem for her. I like that she realizes she’s out of her depth and that she wants to get her sh*t straightened out.
I also really liked the supporting characters in the novel. The unicorn kills me and Abby’s friends are great. I also enjoyed Abby’s interactions with the Warcraft-playing demon. I wasn’t totally thrilled with Brystion, her love interest or, perhaps more rightly, her sex partner. As an incubus, he brings a lot of sexy time to A Brush of Darkness. I didn’t find him to be a super interesting character in that respect but I did appreciate the insights he brings to Abby’s nature, as a Dreamer. This is one part of the novel that I found very interesting and fun since it’s a relatively novel (ha ha, pun?) idea in the urban fantasy genre. Since being a Dreamer is something of a revelation for Abby, her exploration of what it means to be a Dreamer is a good way for the reader to learn what it’s all about, and Allison Pang does a good job of teasing what the possibilities are. I’m looking forward to reading more of Abby’s adventures, though I’m not sure when another book might be released.
This marks my fifth book in the reading challenge! Huzzah for new books!