A Year of Unknown Books: Dark Currents

*Project Recap: For one year, I will read one book per month that I know nothing about that was recommended to me by a stranger; friend; family member, or co-worker; and I will write about that experience.  God help us all.

Dark Currents: Agent of Hel     Dark Currents
by Jacqueline Carey
Book #5, read during March, 2015

The fifth month of reading books that someone else recommended to me was the most difficult month.  It was a chore and the first time that I actually considered quitting the year-long project of reading unknown books.  I kept looking through the list of books and when I broke my rule and read their descriptions, every one sounded like pulling teeth.  This is also why I am not part of a book club; I hate to read books that I don’t want to read.  I’ve dropped out of three clubs without even finishing the first books.  With so many wonderful books in the world, why read anything that you don’t want to read?!

I decided to settle on Dark Currents: Agent of Hel (the Norse Goddess, not Hell), sitting in the adult fiction section of the library.  My first impression was that the cover is awful.  It looks like a cheesy teen fantasy book with a toe-headed girl wielding a knife.  One day on the Red Line el I dropped the book and as the person across from me handed it back, I felt completely embarrassed to be seen with it.  The main character’s dialogue often touts such juvenile sentences of the like: “…he’s so hot!” and other very 20-something year old-isms about the plethora of guys turning her on.

After page five, I could not put this book down.  It’s silly, light, and lucky for me, features my love of other worlds, mythological creatures, gods and goddesses and all other sorts of supernatural ilk.  Carey’s construction of this world is akin to Neil Gaiman’s novels (American Gods, Neverwhere, Anansi Boys), where gods and goddesses live amongst humans in hidden form, but from the perspective of a hormone-crazed young woman.

Carey has constructed a book with a well-written, fleshed out story with a good balance of dialogue and description, filling in the holes without being Stephen King wordy (where you know how many calories were in the lunch of a secondary character on a random Tuesday) that makes for an entertaining read without asking too much of your time and concentration.  It’s about 20-something Daisy, who is half human, half succubus aka demon.  She works part-time for the local police department in the small town in which she lives.  This small town, in addition to your random humans, is inhabited by (and somewhat grudgingly tolerated by the the townspeople) a supernatural counter-culture due to the presence of an active underworld, located otherwise in only the select big cities. In this story, a young frat boy goes winds up dead and Daisy is brought in to help investigate as supernatural forces become suspect, including water nymphs, mermaids and Ghouls, creatures who breath and look like humans, ride motorcycles and but feed on human emotions.

Besides the varied other-worldly creatures’ descriptions hooking me, I also, against my will, was drawn in by the tangental love interests.  Werewolf and police officer Cody has been Daisy’s crush since high school, but this new European Ghoul is alluring, and so is this new guy from Jamaica who can see auras!  What’s a girl to do?!  I know, it’s awful and I’m ashamed, but I was blind-sided by these silly sub-plots and I can’t wait to dive into book two (there are three as of this month).

Reading Dark Currents is exactly what I hoped would happen for this project-that I would read a book, completely unknown to me, and love it, which I did. Whenever I had a free moment, I couldn’t wait to get back and find out what was going to happen next, and it made me realize how much of a struggle some of the previous books have been.  I have hated none, struggled throughout many, but always learned something, whether about story or style.  Thankfully, this novel was a breath of fresh air and gave me an airy, romance filled March.

2 thoughts on “A Year of Unknown Books: Dark Currents

  1. Katie says:

    Carey is an amazing writer who changes her style to suite every character. Phedre from the Kushiel’s series is super with languages and so her trilogy is very sophisticated and takes some getting used to before it is as easy to read as Imriel’s or Moirin’s trilogies. I wasn’t super fond of Santa Olivia but that’s written in an odd broken English style and the Agent of Hel series is written for a more mass market easy read, but her words are still better put together than many authors in this same category and her plots are quite intriguing.

    I’m a big fan cheesy fantasy with strong female characters so I’ve read many books similar to this, but I can definitely say that the Agent of Hel and the Kate Daniels (Ilona Andrews) series are the two that I would recommend as well-written easy reads to readers who aren’t as crazy about the genre.

    • jilliemae says:

      Thanks for the Kate Daniels recommendation and I agree, though Carey’s writing in the Hel’s Agent books are for more of a mass market, they don’t lack regarding story and characterization. I will definitely check out her other series!

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