Of Light And Darkness by Shayne Leighton

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Title: Of Light and Darkness (Of Light and Darkness #1)
Author: Shayne Leighton
Release Date: January 11, 2016
Publisher: Shayne Leighton
Pages: 400
Source: ebook provided by author
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Overall: 2.5 STARS

Shayne Leighton's stunning NA debut is a fiercely imaginative, multilayered contemporary fantasy where Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus meets Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles in a story about a girl caught between two societies . . . two sides . . . and two loves.

Raised by a Vampire in a secret society of Witches, Shifters, and Elves, Charlotte finds that she is the freak in her world of magic and wonder. When she stands before an army of impossible obstacles, the likelihood of survival in this coming-of-age modern fairy tale is slim, resulting in a war between light and darkness.

Charlotte knows no other home than the one nestled deep in the woods of Eastern Europe, where Witches draw spells of enchantment, Shifters throw tea parties, and Elves are the closest in kin.

As genocide and war threatens her life and her home, Charlotte will not allow her one true love to be destroyed. Fighting for her adopted coven of rogue monsters, she will do whatever it takes to save them...and she'll do it before the sun comes up and light takes over forever!

I wanted to fall in love with Shayne Leighton's updated re-release of Of Light and Darkness, I really did. Any NA urban fantasy pitched as featuring paranormal creatures, spellbinding romance, and suspense is bound to capture my attention. Unfortunately, while Of Light and Darkness was very earnest in trying to sweep me away into a fantasy world, it didn't quite succeed...

It took me awhile to warm up to Charlotte and Valek as a romantic couple, mostly because I didn't really believe in their feelings for each other in that regard. I would've liked to have seen the transition of their feelings from guardian and ward to something much deeper as lovers. It didn't help that Charlotte seemed to romanticize Valek as a vampire, and that the moment his darker nature was revealed, she feared and doubted him. She's read factual information about vampires, has lived with Valek all her life, and even leads stray travelers to their home for Valek to drink/drain their blood, yet how could she still be so truly ignorant?

And there isn't a love triangle in Of Light and Darkness! I found that misleading about the book's plot description. A childhood friend, Aiden, has convinced himself he loves Charlotte, but those feelings are certainly not returned. As an elf who finds himself in a powerful position within the Regime, he's been raised to believe vampires are his enemy; it fuels his determination to keep Charlotte and Valek apart.

But where I had misgivings about the main characters, Of Light and Darkness made up for it with its world-building. I loved the idea of Occult Cities, that there are hidden, magical communities near human cities like Prague, where much of the novel is set. It's a world where elves, witches, shapeshifters, vampires, and more can live openly without the risk of discovery by humans.

But the Regime, ruled by elves who wield powerful elemental magic, have begun waging a campaign against vampires, spreading fear, limiting their blood sources, and even more horrifically, exposing them to the sun to die. Valek and Charlotte are inevitably caught up in the persecutions when the Regime finds them in the Bohemian Occult City, and must fight for not only their love, but also their very survival. 

Honestly, I'm very torn how I feel about Of Light and Darkness. My lack of connection to Charlotte and Valek meant I got off to rough start with the book, and it affected the rest of my reading experience. I would get sidetracked reading other books and then return to Of Light and Darkness, hoping that I'd feel something more for Charlotte and Valek, but I never really did. But then there would be scenes filled with beautiful descriptions, capturing the magical essence of the book, and I would be encouraged to give the book another chance. In any case, my mixed thoughts about Of Light and Darkness make me hesitant to recommend the book and continue with the series.

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  1. I remember reading this book WAAAAY back (2012 or 2013 I think?) and while the premise is interesting, and didn't like the way it was executed. The shift from guardian-ward to lovers is not believable, and I do agree with you that Charlotte romanticized and idolized Valek as a vampire. I don't know, but it didn't really feel like romantic love.

    (I do remember that there were plans of making this movie? The author herself would play Charlotte if I remember correctly... WAIT I think I even watched a trailer?)

    Thank you for the insightful review, Liz! :)

    Lyra @ Defiantly Deviant

    1. Hi Lyra! Yes, you're right. We were shopping this as feature for a while, but decided the timing wasn't right (and neither was the casting! lol) :) We want to do the film eventually with the right cast at the right time, but not right now. I'm just the author :) So the trailer you saw is being used strictly as a book trailer. Just wanted to stop and clear up questions about the film stuff. Thanks so much for your honest thoughts! Always appreciated!