Review: Dark Vision by Debbie Johnson

Dark Vision by Debbie Johnson

Title: Dark Vision
Author: Debbie Johnson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey (27th March 2014)


With just one touch she can see a person’s future, whether it’s a good fortune or a terrible fate. Afraid of the potent visions she foresees, she distances herself from the world, succumbing to a life of solitude.

But at the touch of a mysterious stranger – who has powers of his own – Lily sees a new, chilling future for herself: one where she is fated to make a terrible choice . . .

Rating: *** (3 stars)

DARK VISION tells the story of Lily McCain, who is doomed to see the futures of the people she touches – good and bad. Having lived with this ability from when she was a child, Lily has turned the ability not to touch people – both physically and metaphorically – into an art form. Her life as a music reporter is pretty mundane, until she crosses the path of a mysterious stranger at a bar while she is working.

I went into DARK VISION with few preconceptions. I’d read the blurb, but that was it. After a slow beginning Johnson developed the story into a fairly interesting and complex narrative. Although I don’t feel Johnson introduced anything particularly new to the genre, I do think she did a good job in telling a story. I also think DARK VISION feels like the first book in a series – in Johnson’s website it says that the second book will be published in 2015 – as there is a lot of world building and plot set-up for what feels like a bigger piece.

Lily is an interesting and likeable main character, and she has a good narrative voice. I found it really interesting to read her world-view, as she was so isolated – both physically and mentally – from other people. I did find the fact that it was mentioned that she was still a virgin a bit intrusive, as her inability to have human contact is made pretty clear from the start. I also found her past a little cliché, but at the same time I do think Johnson handled this revelation well and actually made it believable.

Johnson created a cast of interesting and varied characters, some of which were drawn from myth, and all of which were well written. I particularly liked Carmel – Lily’s best friend – who went with the flow, made sure she had a good time, but also at the same time was a brilliant friend. Johnson also used one of my favourite characters from Celtic mythology to great effect – I’m afraid I’m not going to tell you who though, as that would spoil the twist when they make an appearance. Johnson uses the mythology she drew from to great effect throughout the book.

There are definitely clichéd aspects to the plot of DARK VISION, but it is still an enjoyable read. For me, one of the most original aspects of the novel was its setting: the UK, in particular Liverpool, and Ireland. It was really nice to read an urban fantasy set in a semi-familiar setting. The basic plot of the book focuses on the revelations of Lily’s past and the consequences this holds on her future – and the terrible choice she has to make. I liked the way that Lily grew as a character through this journey, though I’m a little sad that she didn’t even try to have a third option.

If you are looking for an urban fantasy set within the UK, then I think you should definitely consider DARK VISION. Johnson does a brilliant job in her world-building, and you get a strong sense of the city of Liverpool in the book – though not so much for the Irish settings. The plot of the book may be fairly typical for the genre, but Johnson does a good job with the storytelling – it is an enjoyable read.

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