Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Black bisexual MC, Black pansexual love interest, F/F, Black secondary characters
PoV: First-person, present-tense
It’s been a year since Oasis stumbled away from Blessed Falls with wings carved into her back and too many scars to count.
A year spent razing delusions of being an angel's vessel, proving to her brother that she doesn’t belong in a psych ward, and mourning the loss of her mother's vinyl pressed ashes.
A year spent struggling to feel human again.
Enter Laura, the mesmerizing stranger who claims to hear Oasis’ heartbeat, who reads her hand-written memoir like scripture, who makes her feel closer to found than lost.
Laura is the most recent face of the eternal Count Dracula, ruler of the shadows, chimera of the Devil, and embittered victim of libel.
The Van Helsing Institute have been waiting for a glimpse of the dragon’s underbelly, and eagerly approach Oasis for her help in a ploy to kill Dracula for good. But not every wound from Blessed Falls has cicatrized, and Oasis realizes she may be a danger to Laura—and to herself.
Yet no one is as dangerous as Laura—the first vampire, the Devil's plaything, and the person with whom Oasis finally feels human.
Oceans of time have passed since she last had a drink, and she will not let Oasis go easily.
~so many flavours of queer
~own your scars
~beware pink flames
Darknesses is officially my new favourite vampire novel.
Seriously, there is nothing I do not love about this book! It had me laughing my head off, reading quotes aloud to the hubby, clutching my ereader to my chest, and breathless on the edge of my seat by turns. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop until I reached the end – I ended up devouring the whole book in two sittings, and it would have been one if I hadn’t had to break to sleep!
Where do I even start???
If I were pitching Darknesses to a friend, I’d probably say something like: this is Twilight grown up, Black, queer as fuck, and featuring vampires that are unapologetically deadly.
…So nothing like Twilight, basically. The anti-Twilight, in fact.
IT’S SO FREAKING AWESOME!
Oasis is a survivor still adapting to the ‘normal’ world after years of being brainwashed and brutalised by a cult. Laura is the glorious woman who sweeps into the bookshop where Oasis works to buy every copy of Dracula she can find – so that she can burn them. Because they’re libel against the true Dracula – Laura herself.
When the two of them hit it off, it’s a catalyst that changes them both forever.
Oasis is no simpering, meek, swept-off-her-feet romance heroine, seduced to the dark side by the big bad vampire; she’s fragile in some ways after what she’s been through, and has healing to do, but she’s a survivor, tough as nails and fierce and infinitely far from passive. She accepts Laura’s strangeness lovingly, easily, and reading along as she grew into her confidence and strength over the course of the book was a joy. I can’t remember the last time I cheered on a character this much!
“You were born in the 1400s?”
Laura licks wine off her lips, nodding.
“January 26th, 1431, in Sighisoara.”
“I was born July 13th, 1996, in Wichita,” I say. “I should check and see if we’re astrologically compatible.”
And Laura. I love Laura. I LOVE LAURA! I cannot express the gleeful DELIGHT I felt as Laura was just…completely open and straightforward about being a vampire and also Extremely Intense. I gods-damn adored it. There’s no hiding. There’s no bs-ing. Laura just straight-up says what she means and it is both incredibly refreshing and so, SO funny!
“Did you follow me home because I look like Billie Holiday?”
“I followed you home because your heartbeat lives in my head. I wished to be closer.”
A line like that ought to make me cringe with second-hand embarrassment, but somehow Seville makes it work – Laura comes across as intense, and possibly alarming, but not over-dramatic, cheesy, or fake. She’s forthright and straightforward, and I think it’s that delivery that makes me sit up and pay attention, absolutely buying into every word. The effect is both funny – especially since the reader is in on the joke that Laura really is a vampire – and drives home her complete unhumanity, her very distinct Otherness.
“It’s like telling a stranger you love them.”
“Have you ever done so?”
“Although we will not be strangers for long, I am here as one now, should you wish to change that.”
Some of that Otherness manifests itself in a kind of…cluelessness about certain aspects of modern life, or romantic relationships. These moments are brilliant not just for their comedy factor, but to…for lack of a better term, ‘humanise’ Laura for us. Yes, she’s ancient and powerful and dangerous – but that doesn’t mean she’s always untouchably perfect.
“There is no creature more noble than the bat,” Laura replies, turning to face me. “Were I alive, I would lay down my life for any bat that asked it of me.”
“As your human, I’m not sure how to feel about that.”
She opens her mouth, then closes it, looking at me like I’ve taken her off guard–confused her, even. “I must reevaluate.”
Suave and Intense one second – adorably confused the next. I recognise that this is a weird thing to say about Dracula, but – she’s so CUTE when she’s confused or flustered!!!
And her commentary on humanity??? Priceless.
“My wealth is vast, but it is also several centuries in the making,” Laura says as she steers the car towards the street. “I consider it reparations for having to witness mankind for this long.”
Darknesses is compulsively readable – the prose is quick and gleaming, managing to feel light and easy to read even when the narrative is tackling something heavy – but what also needs saying is: you have no idea where this book is going to go. I’m not kidding: I don’t care what you expect, Seville will still manage to take you by surprise. Darknesses has so many twists and turns, so much lore and worldbuilding, so many jaw-dropping reveals – this is NOT a simple vampire urban romance. It’s not even a simple reimagining of the Dracula myth and history – Seville has a lot more than vampires up her sleeve, and that’s after her incredible take on the First Vampire (which, genuinely, I adore and now consider canon), all of which is beautifully woven together into a cohesive whole.
I am in awe of the mind that came up with all this!
“You think I would be so shallow as to care whether you are a good person?” Laura asks.
This book is a gorgeous, addictive combination of darkness, sexuality, and unexpected whimsy; it’s vicious and tender and full of laughter; nuanced and intricate and utterly delicious. I want to eat it up with a spoon.
This is unquestionably one of the best books of 2022, and if you miss it, you are missing out.