September 10, 2013

Braine Reviews: Darke London by Coleen Kwan

Series: Uncanny Chronicles 1
Format: PDF
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Source: Author
Genre: Historical-Paranormal
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Samhain 

The only way to save her life is to resurrect the dead...

Julian Darke was only a newborn when he was abandoned on the doorstep of a gentleman doctor. Though raised with love, he is driven to discover his true origins.

Convinced Sir Thaddeus Ormond knows something, Julian shadows him one night and is shocked to see a young woman thrown from Ormond s carriage and accosted by a thug. Julian manages to save her life, but not her face and hands from horrific injuries.

Nellie Barchester doesn t recognize the scarred, disfigured stranger in the mirror. Though the gifted doctor and engineer has done his best to repair the damage, scars ravage her body, and chill her soul with the realization that her own husband may have plotted her death.

Julian s tenderness is a balm to her soul, and Nellie is drawn to the edge of passion by a man not repelled by her deformities. But as their pursuit of the truth draws them into London s underbelly, they cross the path of a ruthless enemy who will stop at nothing to fulfill his schemes.

Warning: Can a brilliant but troubled doctor find happiness with a woman scarred both inside and out? A hint of the supernatural plus a night of passion spice up this Uncanny Chronicle.
3.5 to be exact
The heart of DARKE LONDON lies on Julian Darke and Nellie Barchester and and their connection to Sir Thaddeus Ormond a patrician notorious for his thuggery and intimidation tactics. Sir Thaddeus is supposedly Julian's uncle, brother to his deceased biological mother; and father-in-law to Nellie who eloped with Sir Thaddeus' son, Pip. Though the novel is named after Julian, it's Nellie who starred in the novel showing tremendous strength in the face of adversity, holding her head high despite the mutilation she suffered in the hands of her father-in-law's thugs which left her face and body scarred from the stab wounds she sustained.

Julian mostly kept in the shadows, his storyline wasn't as prominent as Nellie's. So far he's shared his mysterious past without visible resolution. As for his relationship with Nellie, they're paramours which can prove to be scandalous because we know that during this time, perception is reality and reputation and appearances are prized like wealth. Nellie is still married to Phillip, divorce pending, and society looks unkindly to that. Very superficial, I know, which makes me happy I wasn't born in this era. Petticoats, corsets and women bowing to men? No thanks! My balls are bigger than theirs, thank you! But even with this stigmatizing relationship, Julian is very smitten with Nellie and has shown her nothing but tenderness and care. It's quite obvious these two's love affair will blossom into something good and beautiful.
- he [Julian] moved to her face and lovingly stroked the marks criscrossing her cheeks, his touch almost reverent.
The conflict was presented in a very straightforward manner but its intricate nonetheless. The overall relationship between the characters also became complicated as the result. There were sub plots that were resolved but the main conflict is still hanging in the air. We still don't know what happened to Julian's mother, who his father is, what Sir Thaddeus had to do with his sister's disappearance and other secrets yet to be revealed.

What threw me off was the paranormal element. For most of DARKE LONDON, there was barely a hint on anything supernatural aside from the mention of occultism which was common during this time. Towards the latter half of the story, Nellie became possessed by the spirit of Phillip's mother while pretending to be an occultist, and it came without preamble. Not that it isn't a welcome addition to the flavor of the story, it just felt like a sore thumb because the premise leading to it was missing.

DARKE LONDON by Coleen Kwan is a relatively short historical romance novel with a well-drawn mystery that will keep the readers engaged. CKwan did a great job in setting up the series by planting the seeds of intrigue, mystery, forbidden romance, plot twists with just a hint of the paranormal bordering Uncanny Chronicles to spark interest and reach a wider range of audience. Julian has more stories to tell and CKwan more oddities to share. I'm sure the series is going to pick up momentum in the coming books because the pieces are now placed and the gears are moving. 


  1. I am reviewing this for my event in October, and I am glad that I know it is more mystery than paranormal that is heavy on romance. Hmm, romantic suspense? But wait, it's steampunk? ooo I cannot wait to see what I think...LOL Since I read all three genres. It shall be interesting.

    1. Sorry, I made the draft before I read it and mistakenly thought its steampunk... anyways, it's still a good read. It's written in a way that'll make you want to read book 2 ASAP

  2. The sudden Paranormal element would probably throw me too. I'm glad you liked it, though. I've read one of Kwan's contemporary books and liked her writing.

    1. Yes, she has a wonderful writing voice. It's pretty without being too wordy. Less is more

  3. OOoo had no idea she wrote anything like this. I read one of her sweet romances this summer and really enjoyed it. Will have to give this a read :)

    1. If that's the case then I'm sure you'll like this too!

  4. This will be a perfect fall read. I love these books that are crossing the genre lines with steampunk, mystery, romance and paranormal.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I wanted to combeback and comment. I just love this cover, it has a steampunk look to it and I do like the fact that the story has different elements. Great review Braine :)

    1. I thought it was steampunk too, maybe we'll see that explored in the coming books. Kwan did hint on that a teeny, tiny bit.


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