Book Review: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

Posted March 10, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong
Genres: Thriller
Published by Minotaur Books on February 7, 2017
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Omens, Wild Justice, Sea of Shadows, Visions, The Masked Truth, City of the Lost, Forest of Ruin, Betrayals, Indigo, Rituals, The Unquiet Past, This Fallen Prey, Stolen, Rough Justice, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Broken, Dark Screams: Volume Nine, No Humans Involved,, Waking the Witch, Portents, Missing, Alone in the Wild, Watcher in the Woods, Otherworld Secrets, Wherever She Goes, "The Case of the Half-Demon Spy", "Truth & Consequences", "Territorial", "Escape", "Adventurer", Otherworld Chills, A Stranger in Town, "Bargain", Hex on the Beach, "Recruit", "Checkmate", "Framed"

Second (only the second?!?) in the Casey Duncan psychological thriller series and revolving around a homicide detective in hiding in Ontario, Canada.

My Take

Armstrong makes Rockton attractive in some ways, the peace, the solitude. Then again…living without the Internet? Aiyeeee! In other ways, well, Armstrong sets us up for the fear with the truth of how Rockton is financed, the “truth” behind those criminal histories, and the disgust I feel for some of those criminals!

No habitual violent offenders need apply. It simply isn’t good business.

It’s a tale of abuse from so many sides with this incredibly mixed group — Armstrong had a brilliant concept with this town. Some characters are sympathetic and some horrifying while others are simply repulsive. It’s incestuous and radical: the enforced isolation with such a wide range of characters from the innocent to the extremely guilty, all fleeing a monster of their own situations.

Mathias fascinates me with his insight and gameplaying while Ty Cypher is intelligent with his own version of gaming, and I’d never turn my back on him. I do love that Casey took him down so easy, lol.

Using first-person point-of-view is a brilliant choice, giving us Casey’s interpretations of her new home right along with us.

I haven’t figured out the overall series arc, but Armstrong certainly intrigues with all her comments about those “hostiles”! I suspect that arc may turn out to be why the hostiles are affected when they leave.

And it’s driving me mad that I have to wait for the next in the series!

The Story

One of Rockton’s residents gets cabin fever and flees into the woods with Casey and Deputy Will chasing after him. The woods — and those who inhabit its wilderness — are dangerous, and no one can be allowed to leave town.

Then a blizzard strikes, and Casey and Will are forced to take shelter in a cave where they discover a woman imprisoned in a hole, held captive for over a year.

Then the bodies of two other women turn up.

The Characters

Former homicide detective Casey “Butler” (Duncan in her old life) is fleeing the mobbed-up Leo Saratori after she killed his grandson, Blaine. Blackmoor Down’s Bohemian Rhapsody, a.k.a., Storm, is a pedigreed Newfoundland puppy. Her cold, overprotective parents died in a plane crash. Hoist with their own petard, I say. April is her older sister.

Rockton, Ontario, is…
…a hidden town created for those in hiding, fleeing justice, abuse, mistakes, or impossible situations. They are required to stay for two years and may stay for five. The rules are absolute. Little electricity, no cellphones, no Internet. Dalton flies out, alone, for supplies. Technically, the reclusive Val Zapata is the town leader with very rigid views. Phil is one of the owners, a faceless voice over the radio.

Sheriff Eric Dalton, kidnapped by the previous sheriff, Gene Dalton, is in very firm charge and in a relationship with Casey. Jacob, a settler, is Eric’s younger brother; their parents were Amy and Steve. Sheriff’s Deputy Will Anders, a.k.a., Calvin James (wasn’t it “Jones” in City of the Lost, 1?), is a former Army medic and MP on the run for shooting his CO and two others. Nor is he a council spy any longer.

Dr. Mathias, a Frenchman, is the butcher with degrees in psychiatry and medicine; he enjoys freaking out the residents with his bloody apron and propensity for a knife. Isabel Radcliffe, a former psychologist, runs the Roc, a bar and whorehouse, and brews the town beer. Tina makes great jam; Brian is the baker; Diana Berry is Casey’s ex-friend, a user and abuser; Petra works part-time at the general store and is a comic book artist the rest of the time; Lang; Jen is a disgusting bully, verbally abusing everyone; Kenny, Paul, and Sam are part of the militia; Shawn Sutherland is a white collar criminal; and, Trent is one of the handymen. The Red Lion is more of a saloon.

Nicole Chavez is the daughter of a cartel accountant for whom Witness Protection didn’t work; she disappeared from Rockton over a year ago. Garrett had been her abusive brother. Robyn Salas, had been a ballet dancer whose stalker destroyed her career, and Victoria Locke (she’d run a Ponzi scheme) had also disappeared.

Abbygail Kemp was a resident who had been recovering from a brutal rape. Beth had been the local doctor, a nutjob abusing her position.

The settlers are…
…those who disapproved of the changes from a communal Rockton to a police state while others, well… First Settlement is the first group who left; their manners have devolved some. Edwin is the town elder. The crazed Mary Parsons (Benjamin Sanders, Sr., had been her husband) is Benjamin‘s mother.

Tyrone “Ty” Cypher is a former hitman who had been the sheriff of Rockton before Eric’s “dad”. Silas Cox left because he wanted to live wild. Roger is a trapper. Brent is a mildly bipolar bounty hunter who now lives full-time in a cave, hermit-like.

The hostiles are those who lost their humanity and have turned more animalistic.

The Cover and Title

The cover is cold with its flat snowy landscape and black silhouettes of trees with Casey walking into the wilderness. The author’s name is at the top and in a stretched-out font in red while the title is in a serif font in white at the bottom.

The title reflects Nicole’s experience in A Darkness Absolute, as well as the mindset of the man who took her.

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2 responses to “Book Review: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

  1. I do love character driven novels and this sounds like one to me. Even if I don’t like a character, as long as they evoke some kind of emotion out of me, it’s a winner.

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