Pros: Fabulous world-building; intriguing storyline
Rating: 5 out of 5
Rob Cornell’s Darker Things: An Urban Fantasy Thriller (The Lockman Chronicles Book 1) starts off with a bang. Thirteen-year-old girl Jessie shows up on Craig Lockman’s doorstep. In the time it takes him to realize that her face looks rather familiar–and perhaps she might be his daughter–a bunch of vampires show up guns blazing trying to capture him. We quickly see just how kick-ass he is as he evades and fights off foe after foe while trying to keep himself and Jessie free and alive. The two flee, and Lockman slowly realizes he cares about what happens to Jessie, and can’t just leave her behind. Unfortunately, the old enemy who’s determined to capture him seems to be quite desperate, and now that he’s no longer in hiding he’s struggling to stay one step ahead.
Craig’s enemy, Dolan, has a lot of resources to draw upon–not just vampires, but werewolves, ghosts, and more. Apparently all these things are real, but most people aren’t aware of their existence. They come from some sort of other dimension, and a few sensitives in our world know how to summon and control them. One of the more common urban fantasy themes is that in recent years humans became aware of supernaturals and the two have had to start learning to live together–this comes before that step, which is a nice variation on the theme. Also, Lockman’s belief is that supernaturals are inherently evil, and that there is no good magic. While there are some hints that he might be wrong, it’s close enough to true that it, too, makes a nice variation on the usual themes.
Jessie is a bit of a mess, and is more than a little bit of trouble. On the other hand, she’s also got guts, and let’s face it, at age thirteen is really when the emotions tend to run high. Not to mention pretty much any person thrown head-first into the world of the supernatural and automatic weaponry being fired at them is going to have some difficulties. In fact, all of the major characters in here are excellent to read about. Jessie’s mother has some nice depth to her, particularly in some of the differences between how Lockman remembers her and how she is now. Jessie’s stepfather starts out seeming like the stereotype of the nice but kind of cold stepfather, but he turns out to have interest to him as well. Craig joins up with some of his old government agent colleagues and they, too, have changed since he knew them. It also turns out that they’ve been keeping some secrets from him.
There are moments that seem like plot holes at first. For instance, if Craig’s kid could find him, why couldn’t the bad guys find him without having to follow her? These various oddities get sewn up, however, in ways that make sense.
There are definitely some hints that there’s more to the supernaturals than their value as minions. There are bits and pieces of prophecy that crop up, that might have something to do with Lockman and Jessie. Some of the supernaturals might not be as evil as they seem.
Just as a warning, this book gets a bit dark, and although Lockman is kind of a good guy, he also does some pretty dark things.
Not only did I really enjoy this book, but I’m planning on grabbing the next book in the series. I think the series is up to five books now (no idea if that’s meant to be all of them), so I have plenty to look forward to.