A Patch of Darkness by Yolanda Sfetsos
Series: Sierra Fox #1
Source: Personal (e-)shelf
All it takes is one weak seam for everything to fall apart.
Sierra Fox, Book 1
In a perfect world, Sierra Fox would have stayed away from the Council she left years ago. But in this world—where spirits have the right to walk among the living—it’s her job to round up troublesome spooks and bring them before that very same Council.
Though her desk is piled high with open cases, she can’t resist an anonymous summons to a mysterious late-night meeting with a bunch of other hunters, each of whom seems to have a unique specialty. The news is dire: something is tearing at the fabric of the universe. If the hunters can’t find who or why in time, something’s going to give in a very messy way.
As current cases, family secrets, new clues and her tangled love life slowly wind themselves into an impossible knot, Sierra finds herself the target of a power-sucking duo intent on stealing her mojo. And realizing she holds the key to the last hope of sealing the widening rift.
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I discovered this book a little while ago when I had a pile of Kobo coupons and was looking for some new authors to try. The big six don’t take the coupons so I started peeking through some of the smaller publisher websites to see if there were any new books that caught my eye. And A Patch of Darkness definitely fit the bill because it’s got a great premise, a nice setting, and some great characters. And it’s the start of a series and I love following characters who get a longer-than-a-single-book journey.
A Patch of Darkness really worked for me because I really liked the protagonist. In a world where people know that ghosts exist (but not necessarily other supernatural beings), Sierra Fox is a 26-year-old renegade spook catcher. She’s got an independent streak like no other, and powers that she’s slowly realizing are atypical for a spook catcher. She lives with her grandfather’s ghost and learned a lot about her powers from her grandmother’s ghost, from whom she inherited her powers. Instead of sticking with the Council, she struck out on her own, operating her own spook catching business with only a foul-mouthed assistant named Emory for backup. I actually really like Emory as well and she has a nice role to play in A Patch of Darkness, though I won’t comment on it since that might qualify as minor spoilers.
Sierra also has a complicated love life. It’s not a full-blown love triangle since her boyfriend Jonathan hasn’t figured out just how interested Sierra is in Jason Papan, the private investigator who works in the same building as Sierra but he’s well aware of Papan’s interest in out heroine. And I really hope Sierra ditches Jonathan ASAP because he’s a secretive, manipulative tool. He starts off okay but it quickly becomes clear that he’s a no-goodnik. Papan, on the other hand, is sexy, fun, and caring, so it’s something of a no-brainer in terms of who I think Sierra should be dating, at least right now. This is only the first book in the series so my opinion may change when I tackle book 2 but right now I am staunchly on the Sierra-Papan train.
Another strength of A Patch of Darkness is the exciting world that Yolanda Sfetsos has created. Spook catching is a viable career in this urban fantasy series but it’s a career that seems to be open only to women. It’s never made explicit in the novel but all of the spook catchers we meet are female and a male catcher isn’t referenced. These spooky powers are based down from grandmother to granddaughter, skipping a generation, which has to create some strange family dynamics. It definitely did for Sierra, whose mother remained a nonbeliever until her death. There are also hints that you can lose these powers if you’re not trained to use them properly, which is an interesting twist. There are male employees in the Council but they seem to be confined to recruitment and staff, not fieldworkers. I’m curious to learn more about the series mythology and I hope the next book gives us a bit more detail.
As it turns out, there are other supernatural beings, they’re just still in hiding. Demons, vampires, werewolves, witches, and probably more all inhabit this universe, as Sierra learns when she’s recruited to join a secret team. There are also references to something called the Obscurus. Is fitting we know absolutely nothing shout it by the end of the book but I hope it’s a plot thread that will get picked up in future stories.
APatch of Darkness is a promising start to this series and I’m glad that I have Split at the Seams queued up on my e-reader! I thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into Sierra Fox’s world and I can’t wait to see what Sfetsos has cooked up for Sierra’s next story.