Book Review: Daughter of Darkness by Raye Wagner

by - 1:19:00 PM

Title: Daughter of Darkness
Author: Raye Wagner
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: 11 May 2017

From Goodreads: "Dahlia knows her value… it’s less than nothing. As a daughter of the goddess Eris, discord and wanting are her only companions. While she craves love and friendship — or even just a sense of belonging — those are the very things her presence destroys.

Unless . . .

One day, a mysterious stranger rescues her from a fight and offers her the unattainable: a safe haven with other demigods. But Dahlia fears a new residence can only be a temporary reprieve. It can’t end well — not for her or the others.

After all, it’s impossible to change who she is."

Thank you to Raye Wagner and Lela Grayce for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for review! All opinions are my own.

I'm drifting in and out of a reading slump lately so this one took me a bit to get through, but it's such a wonderful book. This short story is all about Dahlia before she was, well, Dahlia. It's heartbreaking but powerful and further proof that Raye Wagner is probably a Goddess herself and has just come to Earth to tell us mortals fantastic stories about her friends.

Timid. Afraid. Alone. These are not words you would think of when talking about Dahlia, daughter of Eris. When you meet her in the Sphinx series, she's loud and confident and doesn't take crap from anyone. She's fiercely independent but also incredibly protective of the ones she loves. In Daughter of Darkness, Dahlia is living in foster care because her adoptive parents got divorced. She's bullied in school, verbally and physically. She has no one and thinks that she is no one, undeserving of love and friendship despite those being the things she craves the most. This is Dahlia before she becomes Dahlia, and it's absolutely heartbreaking. When she gets rescued from a fight by a drunk Irish stranger, she gets offered the last thing she could have imagined: a safe haven with other demigods like her. With her history, she doesn't think things will end well at this conservatory, and goes in wary of things not ending well- for herself or for others.

This story absolutely destroyed me and made me love Dahlia even more than I already did. I couldn't believe that this was the Dahlia that I knew and cared for from the main Sphinx books! But seeing her origin story (for lack of a better word) and seeing how she grows from this scared girl into who she is today was such a treat. Short stories are usually really hard to kind of essentially cram everything you want into less than 100 pages, but Raye Wagner has such a talent for these kinds of stories. She was able to set up Dahlia's backstory leading up to the day she met Roan so well and I was able to get such a clear picture of the growth that she experiences once she meets Xan and goes to live at the conservatory. I really enjoyed seeing the relationship between Dahlia and Xan and how much he helps her basically get out of the slump she lives in. He's such a positive force in her life and I cannot get enough of their relationship. They feel more like brother and sister than cousins with the way he not only teaches her how to fight and defend herself, but also helps her to realize her self worth and make her stronger both inside and out.

Nothing in this feels rushed or like it was just shoved in there just for the sake of the plot. Everything flows so well and by the end, you're left with a smile on your face because of how nicely everything wraps up. You want more, obviously, but are satisfied with what was written because of how well it was delivered to you. I can't praise Raye Wagner enough for her talent of once again delivering a solid story, even if it was a short one!

Again, this is a short story, but boy oh boy was there some character growth in this one. Dahlia starts off thinking she's a nobody who doesn't deserve love and can't even protect herself from school bullies. Not only was it difficult to read about how she really saw herself, it was just impossible to believe that the strong, sassy, independent Dahlia I knew and loved was once like this. There were times where I wanted to hug her because her feelings have mirrored those that I (and I'm sure many others) have felt in the past. I definitely had no issue connecting with Dahlia from the very first page, and I really feel that this is a character that many others will be able to relate to. Well, minus the whole being a demigod thing, of course. Dahlia experiences a huge emotional growth spurt once she meets Xan and goes to live at the conservatory. She goes from having basically no self-esteem to being able to tell herself that she's not worthless and actually meaning it. She's able to stick up for herself and find things that she's good at and it was so wonderful to see her transformation from beginning to end.

Xan was fantastic, as always. As I stated above, I especially enjoyed seeing the relationship between him and Dahlia and how he takes her under his wing and helps her grow. He watches out for her without question and even though Dahlia was wary of him at first, it was obvious that she not only wanted but needed the protection that Xan provided her. I also couldn't get enough of his Irish dialect! It came out so strong in this story (even more so than in Son of War) and it was great to be able to read because I always felt that his way of speaking was more American-ized in the main Sphinx series.

It was cool to see some other new demigods introduced as well. This story takes place in the late 60's so it's well before we see almost any of the characters in the Sphinx series. Despite them having small parts (again, this is a short story), they were written very well and I was definitely able to form opinions about each of them. It's no surprise, however, because Raye Wagner always does a great job at writing about her characters, whether it's a full length story or a short story like this one.

I'm pretty sure that I say this in every review that I do of a Raye Wagner book but the writing was wonderful. I always know that when I sit down to read one of her books that I'm in for a treat. Her way of writing is so enjoyable and easy to read, and it's so much fun to just sit down and get lost in the world that she's created. The world of the Sphinx series is huge and is continuing to grow and it's one that I will never get tired of diving into head first. Her world building is solid and the growth is consistent, the characters are lovable and are always changing and evolving with each new book/story, and the writing itself is just fun. I never thought that I would be so into Greek gods/goddesses, but Raye Wagner has drawn me into the deep and beautiful mythology and now I can't get enough of it!

As usual, Raye Wagner has written a story that is sure to draw in new readers and remind current readers why they love her books so much. Dahlia's story is an important one and I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether or not you've read a book in the Sphinx series. With relatable characters and a message that is sure to resonate with everyone that reads it, Daughter of Darkness is an unforgettable story that you'll want to read over and over again.

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