A Brush of Darkness: Fresh, mythic, fun

Allison Pang Abby Sinclair 1. Brush of DarknessAllison Pang Abby Sinclair 1. Brush of DarknessA Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang

It’s easiest to cross between worlds at liminal times of the day. Angels travel most easily at dawn, faeries at twilight, and demons at midnight. As for noon… well, you’ll just have to read and find out!

When supernatural beings (“OtherFolk”) want to pass between worlds without these limitations, they can bond with humans, called TouchStones, who help anchor them to the mortal world. Abby Sinclair is contracted as the TouchStone to Moira, a powerful faerie, but she’s keeping a secret: Moira has been missing for months. Abby doesn’t know whether this is normal faerie behavior or if it’s something to worry about. Then she learns that other OtherFolk have gone missing recently as well. Also complicating the situation is Brystion, a gorgeous, standoffish incubus.

There’s a lot of unoriginal writing out there, and so it’s always nice to find a book that feels this fresh. Allison Pang combines old faerie lore from the ballads, particularly “Thomas the Rhymer,” with up-to-the-minute snarky humor (“FML”) to create a book that feels both mythic and fun. The details of supernatural contracts, the Midnight Marketplace, and the dream realm are vividly described and compelling. I also have a soft spot for any book where the arts are inextricably tied to magic, as in the case of Abby’s friend Melanie and her very special violin.

Abby herself is a memorable character. She’s not the combat-happy type of heroine you might be used to, but she’s smart and snarky, haunted by a loss in her past, and trying to stay afloat in a dangerous world. As a love interest, Brystion seems typical on the surface (sexy goth guy with a magical talent that turns Abby’s knees to jelly) but Pang brings some realism into the equation. Brystion’s sexual mojo creates believable trust issues between him and Abby. We understand why Abby fears him even as we start to see the honorable man at his core.

A Brush of Darkness is a unique, character-driven read. I look forward to seeing what’s in store for Abby, and I definitely hope we’ll be seeing more of Brystion. If there’s any issue with the book, it’s that one part of the mystery was obvious to me really early. However, this is a promising debut for Pang and her funny, relatable heroine. Give it a shot if you like the Jane True books by Nicole Peeler. The humor, the close-knit cast, and the heroine whose talents lie in areas other than brawling, to my mind, add up to a similar ambiance.


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KELLY LASITER is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

View all posts by Kelly Lasiter

4 comments

  1. I think it’s Weird Cover Day at FanLit. I assure you, Abby never wears this outfit or anything remotely resembling it!

  2. Oh. I was thinking about asking her where she got it so I could get one for myself. Darn.

  3. I was going to say something about the cover art. This reminds me of the Mercy Thompson series, a bunch of covers that have absolutely nothing to do with the actual book. It sounds like it could be interesting, I might have to check it out sometime.

  4. I heard several good reviews about this book and I like the cover thanks for the recommendation!

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