The Darkest Touch by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well, this review I know I am going to have a really difficult time with. I have been looking forward to Torin's story for some time now.
As the Keeper of the Demon Disease, Torin has never been able to touch another living being without risking them becoming 1) Infected and dying or 2) Infected and a carrier of disease, spreading it to others. So, for lack of a better term, out of all of the other Lords, Torin seemed the most screwed, all-around.
Novel after novel we saw the torture this caused him - his separation from his own "brothers," his divide from the world at large - spending time in his computer-enhanced room, protecting, managing, stabilizing everyone else's lives. All while he was alone - until Cameo.
Naturally, in the last novel, something happens to Cameo (damn Paring Rod and Cage of Compulsion!), so Torin's only BFF in the world, the only one willing to risk being near him, but not THAT near, disappears. *cue depressing music* Disease meets Misery...what a combo those two made, hu? I hate to say it, because I am also pulling for Cameo, but I was damn glad that Cameo didn't fit the bill for Torin. It is said that the sound of her voice alone is enough to make a grown man want to leap from a tall building - and I believed it. Even though I love Cameo, Torin deserved better. *cue The Red Queen*
Oh Lord...no pun intended...where do I start?
I have to give Gena props; I know she re-worked this book several times over and, after reading it, I can see why. It's not that it was a bad story, or a bad anything. It was that Torin was THAT difficult of a character to write. I can tell from reading it. He has such "special" circumstances that there's no way around it, but trudging through, making it up as you go along, hoping like hell that you got it right, only to realize it doesn't work and you had to start over. I can see the process. It's what happens when you have a complex character - and there is no one character that is more complex than Torin.
So, I see Gena's answer was The Red Queen...
At first, she appears bitchy, out of control. contemptuous, nasty and down-right psychotic. Naturally, first impressions are a bitch - and so is she - but that's besides the point, because we learn there is much more to the "you will bow at my feet now" Red Queen than meets the eye.
I loved the snarky, self-defensive personality Gena applied to Keys. She fits the stereotype perfectly: The girl who has been emotionally damaged and hurt so many times, by so many people, that she has every block up possible. 'I will strike out at you before you can hit me'. Got it. Cue The Red Queen.
I loved how they met; what better place to meet the love of your life than a nasty, dirty dungeon, locked in a prison cell, trapped by your Brimstone scars? Oh, what a weakness. However, where I got a little...well, bored, was in the progression of their relationship. It simply draaaaged. You love me, you push me away, love me again, pretend to hate me and push me away, decide you can't live without me, push me away...on and on. Or so it felt like.
Now, I understand that there had to be a build-up to the finale; after all, this WAS Torin we were talking about here and no average female could jump into bed with him, play hack-e-sack and then split - at least not without starting a massive plague, if she manages to live long enough to get outside of the fortress, that is.
However, this took dragging it out to an all-time high.
We all knew there had to be something "special" that allowed Keys to touch Torin and have *gasp* sex with, Disease. Duh. But to wait until the very end of the book to let us know what it was? Worse, it was Hades who broke the big secret? The very Hades who had once controlled Keys and wanted her back? The very epitome of evil was HELPING Torin and Keys to not only have sex, but stay together, thus ending any chances he had? Nope. I just didn't buy it. Sorry.
I can really imagine how difficult Torin's story would be to write, no doubt. I can literally feel the struggle as I read it, so who am I to criticize? But, in all honestly, I wanted MORE. I wanted to see the two of them come to a solution mid-way through the book, so we could enjoy some time with them.
They spent so much time fighting their way through the various realms, that when they finally return to the fortress, Keys has to turn around and go after Cameo, Viola, Baden, the kiddo who doesn't want to be found, because she gave her word...Ghad. It seemed as though the story was about what they could do for everyone else and how much shit could be slung at them, than it was a budding love affair...or building, as it may.
In addition, I was missing the typical Gena Showalter battle of the ages that has happened in every story. Sure, we had Hades, and we even had an appearance by the lovely Lucifer, along with the creatures they encountered in the different realms, but the true battle? It was internal - Disease.
I've never read a LOTU novel where the battle was solely the demon. In this case, even Gideon was a good guy, so focused on his Honey (Legion) that it seemed the bad had bled right out of him. What. The. Heck? And what's with the Honey? I'm sorry, but I want my Legion back. =(
It was a good story, but not my favorite LOTU - not by a long shot. Would I read it again? Sure. Would I recommend someone else to read it? Sure. Would I place it in my top five favorites in the series? Nope. It was simply too draaaaawn out for me, The best way I can describe it is what I just did with the word drawn. There was so much filler going on between the d and n, I almost forgot the original word I was typing. That's what The Darkest Touch was for me - too much filler.
One last thing, and I know this may sound insane, but da-yum. I love the cover. Love it. Gena always has beautiful cover designs, no question. But, once I started reading, I was wondering if the cover artists knew what the character was supposed to look like, besides being muscular and having white hair, that is.
Torin has longer hair, not shorn. His eyes are brilliant green, not dull. Urgh. I know there are only so many things that you can do with a cover, but how hard would it have been to make his brows and eyelashes black, his hair longer and his eyes brilliant green? I wanted to see my Torin on the cover.
Instead, I got a poser. Hurumpf.
In ending, Gena had a difficult character with limited options available to him and she worked wonders - I just missed the magic.
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