The Darkest Torment, by Gena Showalter

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Gena Showalter's The Darkest Torment is the literary equivalent of a music video—flashy and evocative, but short on coherent plot. Admittedly, this is the twelfth installment in an ongoing series, so I didn't expect to grasp the minutiae of Showalter's world, but the standalone elements of this story (including the entire romantic story arc) didn't make much sense, either.

The Darkest Torment is not any easy book to summarize. The hero is a dude named Baden, who is... possessed by a demon of distrust? Or something like that? Regardless, he's super angry and paranoid all the time, and lives with a bunch of his fellow hot demons in a magical castle that's like a Goth-friendly frat house. Baden is told to acquire a coin from an evil drug dealer, so he takes the dealer's unwilling bride hostage. The bride in question, a beautiful dog trainer named Katarina, is marrying the drug dealer because he's kidnapped her pets, but soon her attraction to Baden overcomes any minor qualms she might have over the fact that he too is a kidnapping monster who constantly threatens to murder everyone.

Look, The Darkest Torment had a couple of promising moments. I was willing to sign off on the whole “dog-train the demon” idea, and I laughed at a few of the one-liners. Unfortunately, this book is 99%, style; 1% substance—and the style in question is cheesy as hell. (Imagine a Hot Topic store in book form, complete with "witty" t-shirts and butterfly tattoos.) The novel is one long series of corny horror-lite set pieces, with little character development and even less substantive storytelling. Longtime readers of these books might find something redeeming about The Darkest Torment, but if you're unfamiliar with the series and in the market for a sexy horror/romance featuring a heroine who's good with animals and her creepy supernatural love interest, you'd be far better off searching the internet for R-rated Labyrinth fanfiction.
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Posted by: Julianka

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