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.