Review – The Light of Darkness: Books 1-3 by Catrin Russell

I can’t rate this series highly enough. I loved it from the very first book, when we meet Anaya and Samael, and I just knew these two were going to be the driving force behind all the books. They are terrific characters, and their story arc is so pure and sexy, even though he is a demon. You’ll want a Samael in your life, I guarantee it.

The Power of Conviction

The story starts off as a fairly standard fantasy, with Anaya bathing in a river and being being spied on by the slinky demon, who ratchets up the sexy scale considerably by being a panther shifter. After that, she sees him more than she should, and gradually gets to find out more about him.

Meanwhile, there is a lovely set of side characters to enjoy, including lovable rogue Edric, Anaya’s best friend, Lenda and warrior Vixen, who knows what she wants and is determined to get it. They each have terrific stories of their own, some of them pretty harrowing, but it is Anaya and Samael’s story which is at the forefront.

The author doesn’t shy away from tough topics like historical abuse, bloody violence and sexual assault, but there are trigger warnings in place for these. What I loved most of all, apart from the sexual chemistry between Anaya and Samael, was the veering away from the Good v Evil dynamic, asking instead what would happen if the enemy wasn’t all it seemed? It is a great way of confronting prejudices and historical norms, questioning what had always been and fighting for justice even if it flies against everything you’ve ever been taught.

Anaya has to tackle all these issues, whilst the High Priest is OD’ing on demon juice “for the good of the town,” and getting perverse pleasure out of doing it. This book is bawdy, funny, sexy as hell and unashamedly bloody. To paraphrase a famous fictional king, “some of you may die, but it’s a price I (the author) am willing to take.”

In short, this book was a wild ride I wasn’t expecting. I love the world the author has created and the characters she has populated it with. And I LOVED the way the story kicked the ass of normal fantasy tropes and turned them on their heads.

My only minor quibble is the ending, which wasn’t rounded off as tidily as I would have liked, but that was okay because I was able to buy the second book IMMEDIATELY and find out what happened to Anaya and Samael next!

The Path to Salvation

A great continuation of the series. This is a book full of dark themes, but very readable with the lovely characters of Anaya and Samael leading their respective clans. Like all good novels, there are lashings of sex and violence, great action scenes and fantastic world-building. The fantasy element hasn’t been overplayed (no fluffy endearing creatures or beings with unpronounceable names) and the story itself is easy to follow despite it’s complexity. This is one series I will continue to read with pleasure. 

The Resurgence of Light

High fantasy isn’t a genre I automatically turn to, but after reading Conviction I was hooked enough to want to know more about Samael and Anaya, the main characters. Their love story weaves through a world where demons and humans are set against each other by misunderstanding and the greed of powerful individuals and where tribes of shapeshifters living peaceable lives are attacked just for being who they are. Despite the titles of the books, I detected no religious allegories, which was something that had put me off reading them for a while. Instead we have a vivid, sexy, violent mix of romance, adventure, derring-do and loyalty.

There are lynx shifters, wolf shifters, panthers, wasps, a glorious mix of homemakers and warriors, strong female characters and submissive male counterparts. There really is something for everyone, but done with the craft of a gifted story teller.

I found The Redeemed, Edric’s backstory, heart-wrenching, adding richness to his complex character, and the story of Nia, in Resurgence of Light, equally compelling. Her tale isn’t yet complete, so I’m hoping she finds all she’s searching for.

Samael has to be my favourite character (I have a thing for tall, moody, dark-haired men) so his passion for Anaya, his willingness to bow to her and respect her, his love for his son and the teenager they adopt, is just wonderful. As a human, Anaya hasn’t been universally accepted as his Consort once he takes over from his mother, so trouble is on the horizon.

In fact the two stories, that of Nia and the tribe of mercenaries she lives with, and Samael’s demon kingdom, are gradually converging, destined to meet in the next book, I’m guessing. The coming conflict is looming with a distant drumbeat.

The author has created a large cast of characters which she has managed to make me care about, and that is no small feat. The story isn’t a new one, but the characters are everything, especially the fierce female leads; Anaya the Priestess, Lilith the demon queen, Nia the servant girl, Lenda the healer. All are stunning, all run through the spine of this series and make it unique.

Finally, the mark of a great series is when the reader starts “shipping” characters, hoping they get together. I’ve done this with three couples now (and have been proved right on one of them.) Sorry, but as an avid fan fiction writer, it’s in my DNA. If a story gets under your skin to that extent, the author has definitely done a stellar job.

BLURB

As humans wage war against demonkind, a Priestess of the Light must choose between heart and duty. Fate, prophecies, and an impossible love blur the line between good and evil.

Trained in the arts of the Light, the priests tread a bloodied path through the scores of demons, seeking to rid the world of their unholy presence. The fight against demonkind grows increasingly perilous, threatening the Priesthood’s very survival.

Priestess Anaya stands resolute in her conviction. Despite the dangers she must endure, her faith in the Goddess and Her divine supremacy remains steadfast. She intends to follow the commands of her High Priest, no matter how gruesome.

Then comes a day when all her beliefs are challenged.

A fateful meeting with the elusive demon, Samael, opens the doors to doubt. Anaya begins to question the very foundation of the Priesthood and the preachings of the Goddess.

Could they be wrong about demonkind? Is her purpose in life truly for naught?

Intended for a mature audience, containing sensitive subjects including violence, torture, consequences of sexual abuse, emotional scars, mature language, and steamy scenes.

The Light of Darkness is perfect for readers who enjoy visceral, gripping epic fantasy tales with dark undertones and romance. Download today.

This box set includes:
– The Power of Conviction
– The Path of Salvation
– The Resurgence of Light

Published by Deliciously Dark Romance

I write dark romantic suspense and under the name, Lady Jaguar, sizzling MM fiction. One of the original founders of WROTE Podcast, a medium for showcasing queer storytelling in all forms.

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