Title: Prince of Air and Darkness (The Darkest Court #1)
Author: M. A. Grant
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: February 25, 2019
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Phineas Smith has been cursed with a power no one could control.
Roark Lyne is his worst enemy and his only hope.
The only human student at Mather’s School of Magick, Phineas Smith has a target on his back. Born with the rare ability to tap into unlimited magick, he finds both Faerie Courts want his allegiance—and will do anything to get it.
They don’t realize he can’t levitate a feather, much less defend the Faerie Realm as it slips into civil war.
Unseelie Prince Roark Lyne, Phineas’s roommate—and self-proclaimed arch nemesis—is beautiful and brave and a pain in the ass. Phineas can’t begin to sort through their six years of sexual tension masquerading as mutual dislike. But Roark is also the only one able to help Finn tame his magick.
Trusting Roark’s mysterious motives may be foolish; not accepting his temporary protection would be deadly.
Caught in the middle of the impending war, Phineas and Roark forge a dangerous alliance. And as the walls between them crumble, Phineas realizes that Roark isn’t the monster he’d imagined. But their growing intimacy threatens to expose a secret that could either turn the tide of the war…or destroy them both.
It is always a pleasure to read a solid fantasy that has sufficient depth and richness to sustain a novel of any real length, particularly where there is a good m/m core theme; this is one such tale. Characterisation is interesting and frustrating in equal measure. There is good character development but background is only introduced in the latter part of the book and then is done so in dribs and drabs and is incomplete. This makes it very difficult to fully understand the individuals and why they are where they are. Context is a similar area where there is good description of the environment but, particularly of the school, there is little explanation of how it fits between both worlds. Familiarity from other reading of the fae world helps in making sense of much of what is happening. What holds this story together is the plot. It is not overly complicated and the reading is easy.
Whilst it is interesting as an adult read, the description of the relationship between the two lead characters is very clearly aimed at a teen market. The intimacy between these individuals is marked by implication; fade to black and, at its most explicit, mild titillation. There is obviously a lot of buried intensity in the to and fro of the character’s thoughts and circumstances conspire to keep them at arms length for much of the book, it is therefore a shame that when they do get to be together the reader is deprived of this.
There is a steady pace throughout. Although the are points of tension, these are resolved without there being too much angst. At these times the pace increases but not so much that the reader skims ahead. As the writing alternates from the point of view of the two lead characters there is never enough time to develop any significant pace before the perception shifts and the pace starts again.
The ending to this book is positive with core issues either resolved or made clear. This is the first in a series and the conclusion doesn’t so much have a cliff-hanger as provide momentum that leaves the reader wanting more.