Review: “Darkest Hour,” Rob Cornell

Pros: Good story
Cons: Some details
Rating: 4 out of 5

Rob Cornell’s Darkest Hour: An Urban Fantasy Thriller (The Lockman Chronicles Book 3) starts up six months after the previous installment. Craig Lockman, the ogre Adam, and Teresa are recruiting an army of supernaturals to work against the vampires. Craig’s daughter Jessie is picking up new and scary ways to use her powers far faster than anyone’s comfortable with, and if Teresa had her way she’d just kill Jessie. The vampires, meanwhile, are taking over a small town in Alaska and turning more people into vampires at great speed. Gabriel’s spirit is still hanging around, and possibly gaining entirely too much control over Jessie. And don’t worry–the author hasn’t forgotten about Kate.

Jessie and Teresa are at each other’s throats. As usual in this series, there are no examples of good relationships between women. When Kate falls in with a group of supernaturals looking for Jessie she ends up at odds with a pixie woman named Mica. I’m just waiting to see whether in book four certain female characters inevitably end up at odds. (Just for reference, this is an old pet peeve stereotype of mine.)

Jessie’s powers get pretty nasty under Gabriel’s guidance. There’s some very dark violence in here (content warning). He also manages to accomplish a lot, so there’s some serious stakes in terms of whether Craig will get to keep his daughter, and whether the vampires will overcome Craig’s army. This is not a series without consequences and stakes! Things sometimes go in entirely unexpected directions.

When Craig’s army heads to Alaska via hastily cobbled-together portal, it doesn’t seem to occur to anyone to have someone go through first and phone back with a status report. Maybe there are no cell phone towers there, but that at least should have been addressed. I’m also dubious that one could “crop dust” vampires with holy water in Alaska in the middle of winter–wouldn’t you basically be making holy snow instead of rain?

It’s nice to finally see the ridiculous numbers of supernaturals around starting to wreck the veil of secrecy that’s kept them hidden from mortals. Many urban fantasies take place after supernaturals have ‘come out’, so it’s interesting to instead see a timeline in which we’re just experiencing that.

I enjoy seeing Kate finally have some real agency in these books. She gets to have a serious effect on the outcome, and it’s wonderful.

I kept having a number of questions I’d note as I read along, then the book did a credible job of answering almost all of them. Also, it gets really tense waiting to see whether Craig and Kate will be able to get Jessie back. All in all this is a decent installment in the series, and I’ll probably continue to read more.

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