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I received a free copy of this book to review. However, the following review is my honest opinion.

Anna is a normal girl struggling to survive without parents. She works for her brother as a courier, gets hit on by annoying boys, and breaks said boys’ ribs once they get too annoying. Oh, oops. One thing I forgot to mention: Anna just happens to be a hag.

She has a demon for a father (bad parenting right there) and has been searching for him for an unclear reason. It probably has something to do with her mom’s soul being imprisoned somewhere or the fact that she can’t control her powers. She’s also got a friend who’s been cursed and is trying to find the demon who did it.

Honestly, beyond that, I’m not entirely sure what this book is about. I suggest you read the author’s description of the book on the Amazon page; personally, I’m just very confused.

The Quills: 2/10

[Anna] donned mostly black, an armor of skinny jeans and leather jacket, as her mood was particularly foul. Most noticeable of all were her eyes, feline, yellow that were shining between her thick lashes.

-Adalind Hargrave, Into the Darker Half

Into the Darker Half is told in third person following Anna’s point of view. She’s got a lot of personality so her point of view is really fun. This novel was pitched to me as an urban fantasy, but personally, I think the young adult tag should also be added on. The writing style and Anna’s voice both make the novel seem like it’s in young adult territory. It was only at the very end of the book that I realised Anna is 25. She sounds so much like a distraught teenager that I didn’t notice.

Unfortunately, a character with a lot of voice can’t completely make up for all the faults of this book. I noticed some grammar problems right off the bat and decided to set down a bookmark on every page I found at least one grammar or spelling mistake. Of the 125 page document I was sent, I bookmarked 84 pages. It’s not even like there was just one mistake per page. Most of the time, each page had three or four mistakes. These include, but are not limited to, verb tense agreements, run-on sentences, comma splices, and missing or incorrect prepositions and determiners.

I have a strong feeling English isn’t this author’s first language. For example, there was a sentence that began, “She undressed her jacket as she walked”. No, her jacket wasn’t all dressed up. Most native English speakers would know undressed isn’t used in this manner. I’ve seen these types of mistakes often with my ESL students. There are also many other instances where words aren’t used correctly; it looks like the author used a thesaurus but didn’t truly understand how to use the word. The author also tends to put dependent clauses in odd places between nouns and their modifiers,  puts adjectives in the wrong order, and often includes ambiguous pronouns (for example, two women are involved in a sentence and the pronoun she refers to the former, rather than the latter).

Beyond the English grammar problems, the writing itself is cumbersome. Things are described in a roundabout way, sentences are too long, and the writing is awkward. For example: “Someone else, in this town, must know more about this other hag, which made her jaunt into Moonshine more significant than ever, since her only bet, thus far, was to find a way to trade a few words with Morrow.” Yes, all six commas are in the original text. There’s a lot of action in this book but all the fighting scenes feel incredibly slow because they’re presented in these long, winding sentences.

Okay, my English rant is over.

The characters in this book are actually really mysterious and interesting. They have personality, aren’t straightforward, and make me want to know more about them. The characters are what kept me reading.

The plot doesn’t really kick in until a third into the book. Before that, it just feels like Anna is aimlessly following orders. After the hint of a plot, it becomes aimless and weird again. By the time a random gang war springs up out of nowhere, I was ready to give up completely. I continued reading, however, to see if all the plot threads would magically come together in the end. They didn’t. Random gang war remained random gang war.

The Roses: 1/10

I really wanted to like this novel. I’m a big fan of magic. I’m also a big fan of girls with cool attitudes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. It may have been because of the poor writing, or it may have been the plot and the world, but in general, this book left me with a very confused feeling about everything. Still, maybe it was just me. If any of you decide to read the novel and want to explain it to me, I’d be cool with that.

This book also took me ages to read (nearly 12 hours, when I usually speed through 70k word novels in less than 4) because I kept having to backtrack. I’d hit those sentences with weird punctuation or weird pronoun placements and have to slow down and reread them. Sometimes more than once.

Even if I was given an ARC (which I’m pretty sure I wasn’t; I was given the novel after it was published), I’d expect better writing than I found.

Conclusion: Into the Darker Half presents a spark that sputters out quickly due to poor writing and plotting.

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