Review: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong (UK edition)

Title: A Darkness Absolute (A City of the Lost Novel/Casey Duncan 2)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Detective Novel, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Sphere (7th February 2017)

The secret town of Rockton is the perfect place to hide. The only problem is – once you’re in, there’s no way out . . .

After a shaky start, Casey Duncan is settling into her role as the town’s much-needed detective. She’s also found love with Sheriff Eric Dalton, a man who appreciates her unconventional ways. But when Casey discovers a young woman trapped in a tiny cave in the mountains, she is soon caught up in a terrifying new case. Someone has been abducting woman and holding them captive deep in the forest. Is he from Rockton, or from the wilderness beyond?

Battered by winter storms and sudden blizzards, the town is cut off from the rest of the world. And as Casey races to find a killer, she becomes his next target . . .

With her gripping new novel, bestselling author Kelley Armstrong has written a heart-stopping, edge-of-the-seat, standalone thriller and a sequel to the highly acclaimed City of the Lost.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE is the second book in Kelley Armstrong’s fantastic The City of the Lost Novels series. This book continues the story of Casey Duncan and her life in Rockton: a secret town in the Canadian wilderness where people with a past go to hide. Casey has settled into life in the town, and as a detective on the town’s police force. She is in a relationship with the town’s sheriff Eric Dalton, something they are both still adjusting to. When Casey finds a young woman trapped in a tiny cave in the mountains, she finds herself caught in a terrifying case where women are abducted and held captive deep in the forest. The question is, does the perpetrator come from Rockton?

I really enjoyed (and loved) the first book in this series CITY OF THE LOST – and, to be honest, I’m something of a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s writing but if you follow my blog you probably know that already. CITY OF THE LOST worked well as a standalone novel, and I was curious about what Armstrong was going to do in A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE. And honestly? This book does not disappoint. It is easy to get sucked back into Rockton. The mystery at the centre of the book is interesting and compelling. The romance aspect of the plot is handled with Armstrong’s usual finesse – which is to say, it works as part of the overall narrative structure.

The City of the Lost Novels is a dark series, and A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE is a very dark book. This series definitely has a similar feel to Armstrong’s Nadia Stafford series, and I think if you enjoy either series then you should definitely give the other a try. I think Armstrong handles the darkness of the events in A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE really well, because although there are horrific incidents that are alluded to in the text I didn’t feel overwhelmed by them.

Armstrong does a brilliant job with the characters. Casey makes a good narrator, and I really enjoyed her voice. I liked how easily Casey read Dalton, and I thought her explanations of his behaviours were interesting. I also really enjoyed the complicated relationship Casey has with Diana. Armstrong did a good job at showing how complicated interpersonal relationships can be, especially when you have history with someone. I thought the residents of Rockton were well written. I particularly enjoyed Mathias. I do have mixed feelings about Jen. On the one hand she felt a little flat and two-dimensional. On the other, I think there’s a lot of potential hidden in that character. Maybe.

Plot wise I thought the story was compelling; someone is kidnapping women and holding them in a cave, which begs the question if someone in Rockton was involved. I thought the story was well paced. It kept me guessing until the end. I really enjoyed watching events unfold, and seeing how things played out. The plot wasn’t overly complicated, which I enjoyed, and the big reveal was definitely a surprise – I say that as someone who lets the story lead me, and doesn’t particularly try and guess who did it.

If you are a fan of the detective novel, then I think this series is well worth checking out. A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE could possibly work as a standalone novel, although it does have spoilers for CITY OF THE LOST so I would say it would probably be better to read that book first. If you’ve already read CITY OF THE LOST, then A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE is a good solid follow-up to that book and definitely worth a read – it did not disappoint me at all.

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