In the Dark, by Kaelyn Buzzo
Hey guys, welcome back to Bookish Beyond.
How have you been?
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing In the Dark, by Kaelyn Buzzo
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
The story is set in Colarado, USA and follows young Kalea as she runs from a sadistic, demonic beast which held her captive and experimented on her. She soon meets Kade and his brethren, paranormal beings who promise to protect her at all costs while she recovers from her horrific ordeal. However, the experiments run on her have drastically altered her appearance and genetics, and she is forced to adapt to who she is now, leaving all she ever knew before behind.
The question remains: can Kade and the others truly protect Kalea from the demon that hunts her, and can Kalea learn to embrace her new self, with all her strange new qualities?
As there are quite a few main characters, I’m going to discuss Kalea at length and then talk briefly about each of the men who swore to protect her.
Kalea has been running from the demonic Valken which tortured her for a while and has grown hardened to pain, to an extent. As a result of the experiments performed on her, she now has pale lilac eyes and shockingly white hair. It is obvious from the get go that she has little self worth, which is understandable given that she’d been abused for so long. Throughout the story, we see how Kalea is prone to anxiety and panic attacks, having to learn to trust people all over again, a process which she takes slowly. In addition, she was a socially awkward character, which I found relatable, often not knowing what to say in certain situations and doing her best to muddle her way through. Throughout the story, she proves herself to be a stubborn young woman, never swayed by other’s thoughts but sticking to her own needs and ideas. As the story progressed, she eventually began to shed her anxiety, taking her pain and turning it into a strength which she could use to move forward. I found myself in total awe of her as a character, loving just how much she grew and healed as a person, and finding her funny in just about every scene.
In contrast, Kade was a strict protector, leading a group of paranormal men who watch over Kalea. It soon became obvious that he was the group’s unspoken leader, his authority becoming law. Although he was a strict man, my initial impression of him being stern and unfeeling turned out not to be true. Over time, I was shown how he had good emotional control, but also possessed strong feelings, which he simply managed well.
Zero initially came across as very blunt and direct in his interactions with others. He had a somewhat harsh appearance, coupled with a matter of fact attitude that made him seem less approachable than some of the others. However, over time, we come to see how deeply protective he is over Kalea, as well as how thoughtful and caring he is as an individual.
Wyatt was definitely a good natured and humorous man. There was a warmth to him that drew me in and I came to adore his character very quickly. He was always friendly, cracking jokes and trying to put Kalea at ease. He was also very perceptive, wise beyond what I was expecting.
Nico (Wyatt’s twin) was his polar opposite, if ever there was one. He was quiet and watchful, always observing the others. He was also considerate and reserved, a peacekeeper of sorts, along with being one hell of a cook. Because of his more reserved and delicate nature, he soon became one of my favourites.
Asher, the final of the men in Kalea’s life, is introduced to us in the form of a hellcat, before transforming back into a human form. His fiery hair and mischievous nature lend him a rather devilish impression. He is often seen flirting and making innuendos, as well as joking around in general. He was also one of my favourites simply because he seemed so laid back and less serious than the others, always taking a chance to tease Kalea whenever he could.
- The story opens with the mystery of several unanswered questions: who is being chased, and who are ‘they’ that are doing the chasing? Because the answers to these questions weren’t revealed until later on in the chapter, I found myself immediately pulled into the story, in desperate need of answers.
- The first person, past tense narration gives the reader an immediate sense of intimacy with the main character and their plight. It also showed off Kalea’s uniquely funny personality. I thought that, by contrast, using first person present tense for Kalea’s dreams / memories worked equally well.
- The author has a wonderful sense of humour which comes through well in her characters, especially between Wyatt and Nico, and the other men at the house.
- The author pays great attention to the subtle details, such as people’s unique characteristics and personalities, of objects and the senses explored, etc. I felt like they really pulled me in with their writing style, allowing me to experience the story on a whole other level.
- The action scenes are well written and allow for maximum, on the edge of your seat tension.
- The world building and creatures involved were fantastical and awe-inspiring.
- Kalea was a quirky, funny, and relatable main character, who I warmed to quickly. She’s definitely one of my favourite characters of all time.
The only issue I had with the story was how the first person, past tense narration is sometimes mixed up with present tense phrases. This was more apparent once I read past chapter three and I didn’t feel that this worked well. It was as though the author kept forgetting which tense they were writing in, and thus, reading such sections became confusing.
As always, I kept my eyes peeled while reading for any interesting quotes I thought you’d enjoy. On this occasion, I identified five which were particularly memorable.
1) ‘Sometimes you gotta allow yourself to be vulnerable to obtain healing and live again, rather than simply existing.’
2) ‘Do not be sorry for the aftershocks, for the consequences of other’s actions done to you. You have every right to be unsteady, adjusting to the world once again.’
3) ‘Trust is earned, whether that be from time or experiences.’
4) ‘There is only one of you. You are you. Do not be ashamed of that. Be weird.’
5) ‘Sometimes, people need a little guidance along the way- There’s nothing wrong with needing guidance or a shoulder to lean on.’
Hopefully, when reading through these quotes, you find one that resonates with you, just as I found they resonated with me. There is a profound sense of what it means to be human within these quotes, of how strong we are deep inside, no matter how much pain we experience.
Overall, I found In the Dark to be a fantastical fantasy tale which explored themes of dark vs light, trauma, and the bond of friendship. The characters were complex and vividly written, and the narrative was engaging throughout.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of paranormal fantasy novels, with young adult protagonists.
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