The Darkness Within & Turn to Darkness (Offspring novellas)
Published: June & Sept. 2012 (Avon Impulse)
Purchase at: Amazon
Reviewed by Jo
Rating (out of 5): a combined 4 stars
You could read The Darkness Within and Turn to Darkness as stand alones, as each have an individual plot and separate romantic storyline. However, there is an overlapping story arc making them feel more like two halves of one story and I felt I got much more depth and understanding by reading them both together.
The premise for the world and mythology created is unlike any I’ve come across before. Part sci-fi, part shifter tale, it centers on the idea of the offspring of a race beings from an alternate dimension. Both novellas branch for the same starting point, the news of a man being mauled to death. When the leader of this race learns of the attack, he knows the truth: This isn’t the work of an animal but one possessing Darkness. Convinced it’s an offspring, he dispatches those who sired them with simple orders to kill the offspring and guard the race’s existence.
The Darkness Within tells the story of Del and Tucker, two of these offspring. Del also knows the truth about the mauling; it’s exactly the same way her father was killed. When the man responsible returns and kidnaps her mother, she turns to the Tucker for help.
With a backstory full of baggage, the romance between these two is filled with emotional tension. Tucker is a great mixture of pissed-off bad boy and natural-born alpha. Still deeply hurt over being kicked out of the only home he’s ever known by Del’s mother, he doesn’t make it easy for Del to ask for help.
All offspring have some form of power (psychometry, telekinesis, etc.), but ones like Tucker have Darkness as well, giving them the ability to shape shift. I loved this fresh take on the shape shifting idea, those with Darkness don’t actually become the animal, it’s more like they make that form out of energy.
Even though there are some dense paragraphs explaining the world building behind the offspring and their sires, it was so interesting I never felt it was slowing the pace down. The Sires worked as great bad guys, ruthless and determined, their family connection with Tucker, Del and the rest of the offspring introduced (the Desert Rats or D’rats) only served to heighten the conflict, leading to a great climax.
Turn to Darkness takes off immediately after The Darkness Within, but features another pairing: Shea and Greer, two offspring in Tucker’s pack. It pulls focus back to the starting point, the man mauled to death. It is quickly revealed this is the same man who raped Shea six years ago. While all of the D’Rats are being hunted by Sires, it soon becomes clear that one of their own is responsible for the murder, threatening the safety and stability of all.
With the heavy lifting in the world building already laid out, it allows the plot and characters to really take center stage in this installment. There is a fantastic tension between Shea and Greer. They both clearly have strong feelings for each other, but her past still haunts her. Greer is one sexy hero, caring and protective. Plus he’s a firefighter who can turn into a panther. Sign me up for two please. Shea is tough but very closed off, determined to hide her femininity. I loved watching Greer slowly gain her trust, helping her to heal some of her scars.
The plot has a huge number of twists and turns for such a short novella. The tension for both the outside and inside threats built, with plenty of shape-shifting fight scenes. Turn to Darkness just beat its predecessor when it came to the action, ending in a fantastic showdown.
Coming in at just over 220 pages combined, it’s amazing how much has be packed into The Darkness Within and Turn to Darkness. Filled with a new take on sexy shifters, great romance and rich plots, these novellas are a great introduction to the Offspring series, without spoiling anything from the previous installments. They definitely piqued my interest enough to put the first full-length novel, A Perfect Darkness, firmly on my to-be-read pile.
Sexual content: Sex, references to rape