Dark Ascension: Brennan has me hooked

Dark Ascension by M.L. BrennanDark Ascension by M.L. Brennan fantasy book reviewsDark Ascension by M.L. Brennan

Dark Ascension is the fourth book in the GENERATION V series, which has quickly become my favorite urban fantasy series. It seems like I spend a good few months every year looking forward to the next book in the series. Brennan has me hooked.

Dark Ascension is far different from any other book in this series. It has a much darker tone, and the humor, while there, is muted. It feels a lot heavier, a lot more thoughtful than previous books, as Fortitude Scott is forced out of his comfort zone(s) and has to grow in leaps and bounds, often in ways he has spent the previous three books trying to avoid.

Furthermore, some developments take place that Brennan has spent several novels building up to. It’s been a slow build, but the payoff is huge as Dark Ascension focuses on all the anticipation that’s been building in the previous books. Perhaps what impressed me the most is that Brennan not only built up the tension in relationships and politics for three books, but surprised me at every turn, despite my certainty that I’d be able to predict it all.

Fortitude Scott is a lot more introspective in Dark Ascension than he is in previous books. He’s still liable to have his kindness taken advantage of, but he’s more willing now to put his foot down and say something when he’s uncomfortable. His relationship with Suzume has crossed the line from friendship to love, but it’s also strained as these two very different people are trying to find middle ground. The push/pull between the two of them is very realistic and incredibly well done. Suzume is obviously the rock on which Fort balances himself, but she’s also a point of contention, as he often doesn’t understand what she does and feels hurt by some of those misunderstood actions. It’s fantastically real in a genre where relationships often strike me as a half step off.

This book really is about Fortitude’s relationships: not just his relationship with Suzume, but with the world around him, his family, and himself. Like I said above, it’s incredibly introspective as Fortitude is pushed out of his various comfort zones and personal denials and forced to really examine his place in the world around him. It’s uncomfortable and heart-wrenching. The emotions are strong and visceral, and I can’t deny that my heart was breaking to such an extent that I cried at several points.

I rarely cry when I read novels, but this one had sucked me in so deep I couldn’t help but feel Fort’s deep emotional pain, his confusion, and the intense discomfort he felt as he stepped outside of himself and truly started to don the mantle of the role he was born to fulfill. That is a testament to Brennan’s incredible writing skill. Not only has she managed to make me, a reader who hates vampires almost as much as she hates zombies, fall in love with a series about vampires; she’s also made me cry because of their realism.

I said above that this book surprised me, despite the fact that I thought I’d have it all figured out. I didn’t. And the ending has me absolutely dying to read the next book. If Brennan has taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. I respect the hell out of this author for taking a genre that I generally scoff at, and making me fall in love with it. Dark Ascension astounded me. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was obvious from the start that Brennan poured a lot of herself into writing this one. It’s too intense, too real, too visceral and emotional for it to be otherwise.

Dark Ascension was my favorite book in this series yet. There are a lot of personal and interpersonal developments, and some heart-wrenching scenes that aren’t easily forgotten. Brennan has spent three books building up to the pivotal points of this one, and the payoff is huge. If you haven’t read this series yet, you’re crazy.

[b0x]Published in 2015. As the “wickedly clever” (Publishers Weekly) series continues, reluctant, slacker vampire Fortitude Scott learns that nothing is more important than family—or more deadly…. After a lifetime of avoiding his family, Fort has discovered that working for them isn’t half bad—even if his mother, Madeline, is a terrifying, murderous vampire. His newfound career has given him a purpose and a paycheck and has even helped him get his partner, foxy kitsune Suzume, to agree to be his girlfriend. All in all, things are looking up. Only, just as Fort is getting comfortable managing a supernatural empire that stretches from New Jersey to Ontario, Madeline’s health starts failing, throwing Fort into the middle of an uncomfortable and dangerous battle for succession. His older sister, Prudence, is determined to take over the territory. But Fort isn’t the only one wary of her sociopathic tendencies, and allies, old and new, are turning to him to keep Prudence from gaining power. Now, as Fort fights against his impending transition into vampire adulthood, he must also battle to keep Prudence from destroying their mother’s kingdom—before she takes him down with it….[/box]


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SARAH CHORN, one of our regular guest reviewers, has been a compulsive reader her whole life, and early on found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a published photographer, world traveler and recent college graduate and mother. Sarah keeps a blog at Bookworm Blues.

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