Guest Review: Darkling (Port Lewis Witches #1) by Brooklyn Ray

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is surrounded by dense woods, and is home to quaint coffee shops, a movie theater, a few bars, two churches, the local college, and witches, of course.

Ryder is a witch with two secrets—one about his blood and the other about his heart. Keeping the secrets hasn’t been a problem, until a tarot reading with his best friend, Liam Montgomery, who happens to be one of his secrets, starts a chain of events that can’t be undone.

Dark magic runs through Ryder’s veins. The cards have prophesized a magical catastrophe that could shake the foundation of Ryder’s life, and a vicious partnership with the one person he doesn’t want to risk.

Magic and secrets both come at a cost, and Ryder must figure out what he’s willing to pay to become who he truly is.

Warning: Scenes of bloodletting and death (and resurrection) of an MC.

Reviewer: NeRdyWYRM


Maybe I read a different book than everyone else, I don't know. What I do know is that while I enjoyed this story, it was also unfulfilling. The world-building was spectacular. It was. The trans MC was well-portrayed and I loved the dichotomy of Fire/Air elemental they had going on here.

This is a novella, so I don't want to say too much for fear of spoiling it for everyone. Given the length, everything counts. That said, Darkling is aptly named. Ryder's stomping ground is a dark, dark, place. His mind is a dark, dark, place for a lot of this book—and for good reason.

Liam is a breath of fresh air for Ryder, if you'll forgive the play on words. I spent a lot of the book feeling bad for him because the situation was just so ... heavy.

atlas-morph -- darkling review pics

I related to the feels. Ryder was quietly petrified, too self-sacrificing, compulsively pessimistic, and more than a little sad. Liam was inconspicuously supportive, despairingly hopeful, and forcibly helpless in the face of everything that was going on in this title. There was only so much he could do and that was heartbreaking.

So why am I not starkers over this title like everyone else seems to be? Well ...
there are a few reasons.

I appreciated Liam's effortless acceptance of Ryder. At no point did I wonder if he saw Ryder as different. He didn't. To Liam, Ryder was just Ryder. I loved that and wish it was like that for everyone in real life. I wish Ryder had been as accepting of himself. I was a little confused by the partial change, but that might be my ignorance yapping. Maybe Ryder was confused, too. Either way, I wanted to know more about that in specifics.

details -- darkling review pics

The world-building was good, for the small slice of the world we got to see. It was microcosmic, IMO. That was disappointing. Rewinding the story in my head, the scope felt extremely narrow. Maybe I missed something, but I don't think so. The plot was Liam and Ryder in this little bubble with The Big Day looming, and the only things that were fleshed out pertained directly to that and their relationship leading up to it. That's it.

Regardless of my slight sense of dissatisfaction, I was pleasantly surprised by the story overall. I think part of my disappointment lay in the fact that it wasn't quite enough. It felt like things were missing or waiting in the wings and those things were the things I really wanted to see.

peekaboo owl -- darkling review pics

Maybe we'll get more in book two, I'm not sure. The blurb for that one seems equally narrow in scope, but like Liam, I'm cautiously hopeful that there's more to this story arc than what we've seen and more of what I missed out on in this title in ones to come.

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