Thursday, February 4, 2016

By Darkness Revealed (Blackwell Magic Book 1) - Kevin O. McLaughlin

This week, I'm reviewing my second book in the Indies Unlimited 2016 Reading Challenge. This month's goal is to read a book by someone who is not an IU minion, but who often comments at IU. I've chosen Kevin O. McLaughlin's By Darkness Revealed because I've never read any of his work previously and had been meaning to.

This urban fantasy novella begins with Ryan Blackwell, a freshman at a military school, running a drill with his unit. Something odd happens to a fellow recruit, and Blackwell can see it's a magical attack by some sort of teeny critters -- otherworldly gnats, maybe -- so he goes back to rescue the young man. Blackwell hasn't been keen on others knowing about his special powers, but his platoon leader figures it out -- and soon our hero has more trouble on his hands than he ever bargained for: dead students, interviews with the local police, and a malevolent spirit that wants to kill him.

I enjoyed this book, but I wanted more. The author left a number of things unexplained: the mysterious gardener, the nature of the dispute between Ryan and his father, and how Ryan came to have special powers in the first place. McLaughlin also has an unfortunate tendency to mix up to lay and to lie -- although I'm willing to blame that on the first-person narrator. Otherwise, the book is well-written and the magic is coherently structured. And I suppose some of the things I was left wondering about might be explained in later books.

I'd recommend By Darkness Revealed as a quick read for urban fantasy fans who don't mind a little military-school terminology mixed in with their critters that go bump in the night.

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