Rated 4.1 out of 5 Stars
By Elizabeth Richards
Book 1: Black City ~ Book 2: Phoenix ~ Book 3: Wings
Ash is the typical bad boy; drug dealing, selfish punk kid with a bad attitude and no cares in the world. Except when he's not. He is the son of a minister, gives food to the poor, and only sells drugs to help his father pay the bills. Ash is the only twin blood darkling alive in the Black City. A darkling is a different species entirely than human, the closest example being a vampire. They tend to be stronger and faster than humans, with a craving for blood, an aversion to direct sunlight, and an allergy to silver. Ash is only a half breed. With a heart that won't beat, a drug-like venom that injects into his prey when he feeds, and a physical appearance that scares most humans; he feels like he got the worst of both worlds. Darklings have been segregated from humans in every city across the United Sentry States by a government determined to exterminate the species. They are forced to live behind a wall in an area of the city referred to as The Ghetto. Ash is permitted to live within the city, as long as he wears an ID bracelet like a dog collar and follows the strict rules. No relationships with humans. No problem. Do not sell the drug known as Haze that is naturally occurring in his venom. Well.. And finally, follow all orders of the Sentry military working for the dictator, Purian Rose. Shouldn't be so hard.. that is, until he meets Natalie. She is the daughter of the Emissary, an enemy of his people. A rich girl in a city of starving humans and darklings. Too bad Ash has no chance to avoid her. The connection between them is instant and intense, and terrifying. With one touch, Natalie has activated Ash's heart; he finally has what he has longed for all of his life, a heartbeat. Natalie is his blood mate, the one person that he is meant to spend the rest of his life with. But she is human, and the punishment for a relationship with her would be execution for both of them. Is love worth risking their lives in the face of an oppressive government and an even more oppressive dictator? And can Ash abandon his people living in the Ghetto, starving and dying of disease while he continues to live a life on the other side of those walls?
I really enjoyed reading this series. The world building was amazing! The United Sentry States strikes a hauntingly familiar chord with me, as it seems our own government gets more powerful by the day. I found myself noticing terrifying similarities between the U.S. and the dictatorship the author creates. Black City is a city on the brink of war, a city of destruction. The humans are getting tired of being scared, and the darklings are growing anxious with little food and rampant disease on their side of the wall. Richards drops the reader right into the middle of this crazy world, with little back story; and you, the reader must work to untangle the plot. This series delivers violent landscapes, deadly concentration camps, cult like followers of Purian Rose, and his evil grows with every book in the series. The third book finally reveals who Purian really is, and why he started this war to begin with. The reader really has no idea who to trust, where to go for help, or what the final outcome will be. There are more twists and turns than imaginable, and it truly is a wonderful read. My only complaint is of course, the romance. It's almost cheesy in a sadistic way, but it does get better throughout the series. Ash and Natalie finally realize that their love is not the most important thing, and that their decision to lead a rebel army effects thousands of people's lives. I enjoyed the way Richards wrote the characters, giving no hints either way if they were truly on the side of the rebels, or if they were working for the Sentry. Natalie's mom is the enemy in book one, but by book three, I found myself feeling a bit of respect for the woman. There really are two sides to every story, and Richards makes that blatantly apparent. Elijah is a wonderful character, never revealing his true intentions until the last possible moment. So yea, read this series urban fantasy nerds. It is so much more than all the cheesy romance and Romeo & Juliet junk! :)