Early Book Review: Innocent Darkness (The Aether Chronicles) by Suzanne Lazear

Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear, the first book in the new young adult The Aether Chronicles, is set for release on August 8 2012.  Magnolia 'Noli' Braddock is considered a troubled girl because of her willfulness and love of tinkering. After crashing a flying car with her best friend Steven 'V' Darrow, without the proper permits, Noli faces a boarding school that is not as advertised. Kevighn is the faery queen's huntsman, and he is searching for someone much like Noli to offer as the scheduled sacrifice to restore and balance the magic of Faery. Will Noli be able to resist Kevighn's otherworldly charm or will she become the next unwitting sacrifice? More importantly, is V more than she knows and can love really conquer all?

Innocent Darkness started out fantastic. I liked Noli and V, falling into the family dynamics quickly. I though Charlotte and the other characters Noli encounters at the school are fleshed out well. I liked the faery lore used, and the way an alternate history and the very real oppression of women in the 1900's were woven together. I could relate with Noli's frustration with the limits placed on her, and the lack of desire to learn or be creative in others. However, despite the steampunk start and a few mentions here and there, I do not recommend this book to steampunk fans. The steampunk elements seem to be concentrated in the first part of the book, and it is good while it lasts. However, the story quickly looses most of the technical elements and becomes much more about the restricted roles of women and girls in the 1900's and then the Fea elements of the story. More worrisome to me, is all the mention of how girls and women should be able to think for themselves, learn, read, and have more freedom but in the end Noli still rather waits and relies on a guy to fix things. The constant use of a couple words that sound right for the time quickly become old, and stated to wear on me a little.

Innocent Darkness starts off with a bang, and then sputters. Readers that like new looks at faery lore can enjoy the story, as can those that like stories that look at roles of women, even in altered history. There were moments of the book that I really did enjoy, particularly the characters, but I doubt I will be reading the next book in the series.
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