Review: The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Dark World by Cara Lynn ShultzThe Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz
Series: Dark World #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 27, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
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three-stars

Paige Kelly is used to weird--in fact, she probably corners the market on weird, considering that her best friend, Dottie, has been dead since the 1950s. But when a fire demon attacks Paige in detention, she has to admit that things have gotten out of her league. Luckily, the cute new boy in school, Logan Bradley, is a practiced demon slayer-and he isn't fazed by Paige's propensity to chat with the dead. Suddenly, Paige is smack in the middle of a centuries-old battle between warlocks and demons, learning to fight with a magic sword so that she can defend herself. And if she makes one wrong move, she'll be pulled into the Dark World, an alternate version of our world that's overrun by demons-and she might never make it home.

Cara Lynn Shultz’s books went on my auto-read list after her debut duology. Admittedly, the Spellcaster books weren’t hugely popular with bloggers, but they were total Christina catnip. I love Cara Lynn Shultz’s banter-focused writing and her pop culture references. Something about what she does really just works for me, and that definitely continued into The Dark World.It’s in the dialog and the humor that Shultz really shines. The Dark World has a fabulous narrative voice, but the paranormal plot line was a bit much for me at times.

The narrator, Paige Kelly, known as Bellevue Kelly to the kids at her school, is composed entirely of sass. She’s completely ostracized and friendless, due to her apparent habit of talking to air. Actually, dying briefly in an accident after saving a little boy has given her the power to see ghosts, so she’s really talking to her best friend, Dottie, who’s been dead for ages. Paige takes all of this very well. She’s not the sort to really lay down and allow herself to be bullied. The most popular girl in school, Pepper, does her best to make Paige feel inferior, but Paige is always ready with a serious burn of a comeback. Basically, I think this girl is hilarious:

But much like her namesake, Pepper was irritating when she was in my face. (9)

It was less Mr. Sexypants and more Mr. Windowless Van. (30)

I wondered if she would ask Logan if he was going to give me his varsity jacket or pin me. More like I’m going to pin him. To the wall. And make out with his face. (254)

Another thing I love about Paige is how she reacts when she really learns about all the paranormal stuff going on in her life, which goes much beyond seeing dead people. She’s scared for sure, but she also immediately demands to be educated and trained. Where Logan and his Uncle want her to sit back and be protected, she’ll have none of it. Paige insists on being taught to fight herself. Even before getting any training, Paige had proved invaluable in a battle, because she didn’t just watch like some sort of Princess Buttercup. Oh, also, when she learns that Logan’s keeping things from her, she is pissed and calls him out on it.

The other aspect of The Dark World I love is Paige’s family. The Kellys are one of the healthiest families I’ve seen in YA. Her parents are a bit overprotective since the accident, but what parents who loved their child wouldn’t be? They all frustrate each other sometimes, but the love between them is obvious. She hangs out with her parents, talks to them about things, and they joke and laugh together. It’s so sweet and so rarely seen in YA.

The paranormal stuff I was of two minds about. I think Shultz’s worldbuilding is interesting and pretty well-developed. Her explanation for ghosts is unique and convincing. That said, I also wasn’t as into the book after it went full on paranormal activity. I think my reticence is perhaps the lack of compelling villains? There are a lot of evil and untrustworthy dudes, but they’re all just kind of there and without any sort of character development. I’m not intrigued by the paranormal plot and would prefer to watch Paige interact with people at her school, being a sassy BAMF.

The romance is sweet, but I didn’t really ship it. I’m cool with Paige and Logan. They’ve got a pretty healthy relationship and they even have a decent banter going. Still,  it’s just not getting me in the heart, perhaps because they are also too cutesy together? I’m not sure why, but the shipping did not commence, which left me less emotionally connected than I could have been.

While this book hasn’t become a new favorite, I had a blast reading it, and there’s no doubt that Shultz is an author whose work I will always be reading.

Favorite Quote:

“I didn’t imply that you were running off to Vegas and getting matching tattoos,” Mom said with a smirk.

“You caught me!” I pretended to be surprised. “That’s totally what we’re doing. Face tat for me, tramp stamp for Logan.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

This book made me giggle like Ron Swanson

This book made me giggle like Ron Swanson

6 responses to “Review: The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz”

  1. There is something about Spellbound that I just love, too! I’ve read that book so many times. It’s like the ultimate comfort read for me. I haven’t read Spellcaster yet, because I’m afraid to read it. You know, the whole second book syndrome.

    But I felt exactly how you did with The Dark World. I loved reading about Paige, and Logan too (although he’s no Brendan) but the paranormal stuff got to be a little too much for me.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su & Kate RorickMy Profile

  2. I read Spellcaster earlier this year and really struggled through it. The romance didn’t work for me and I was bored through most of the book. So my expectations for The Dark World were pretty low, but I ended up really enjoying it! The worldbuilding is solid, with a lot of potential for the next book, Paige is hilarious, and the romance made me swoon hard. The letter Logan writes? *sighs happily* I’m glad you liked this one, too, even if the ship wasn’t quite as swoony for you!
    Great review. 🙂
    Danielle @ Love at First Page recently posted…ARC Review: Pieces of OliviaMy Profile

  3. Gillian says:

    Duuuuude, I totally want to read this now. MC made of sass, healthy family, sounds good to moi
    Gillian recently posted…My Favorite Covers of 2014 (So Far)My Profile

  4. Jessica R says:

    I haven’t read Schultz’s other books but all the snark coming from the MC here has me really tempted to give this one a shot. I wasn’t too sure about the paranormal aspect when I first read about it, so maybe going in knowing that that part isn’t as compelling will lower my expectations enough that I can just really enjoy the rest of it. Good to know!
    Jessica R recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #70: The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung RichmondMy Profile

  5. Lyn Kaye says:

    This sounds like what everyone else thought of Unspoken. I’m going to give it a shot!
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #91My Profile

  6. It’s such a shame that I wasn’t able to enjoy the writing-style. There was something about it that put me off from reading it, because I’d have loved to see more of her family.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Monthly recap. June.My Profile

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