Noli lives in a world (1901 Los Angeles) where women can't have full operational driver’s licenses without being escorted by an older gentleman and they also don't have equal rights yet. She loves Flying Auto's. She loves tinkering with them, and yes, getting in trouble with them.
After crashing her father’s flying machine alongside her best friend Steven “V” Darrow, she ends up being whisked off to San Francisco’s Findlay School for Wayward Hoydens thanks to her mother and the law. Findlay is a school where girls are beaten to an inch of their lives for being willful hoydens. The school is supposed to teach young girls how to be productive members of society and ridding them of their youthful disobedience. I considered the school to be nothing more than a prison complex where young girls are placed by parent’s who don’t understand their own kids.
I had to look up the word Hoyden since it appears everywhere! So, the definition is as follows: Hoyden - a girl or woman of saucy, boisterous, or carefree behavior. Huh, who knew! I mean in the 60's a lot of us would have been known as Hoydens!
Noli is unaware that there is a whole dimension called the Otherworld where the Fey run rampant and live off the sacrifices of human women every 7 years. She's even unaware that her best friend Steven is an exiled prince from the Otherworld. She is also unaware that Kevighn Silver-Tongue roams the streets of San Francisco looking for girls with sparks, or what we call creativity, joy & life. It is Kevighn’s job to find a sparkly girl for Queen Tiana every 7 years so that she may be sacrificed to keep the magic and creativity flowing in both realms.
Kevighn doesn’t exactly have a good reputation with his previous picks especially since the last choice killed herself causing the great San Francisco Earthquake in 1895. Yes, the author does take writer's exception with the whole events that actually happened. You can actually learn more if you read the introduction to her story. I like when authors actually take the time to explain the world they are building. Gives you more ideas of what they intended, and what you actually read.
Thanks to a wish made at the most inopportune time when her friend Charlotte is whisked away from the school by her rapist uncle, Noli is taken into Fairy and ends up battling for her humanity and her life because she has been chosen to be the next sacrifice by Kevighn. Somehow, she manages to find feelings for Kevighn even though I clearly thought he was a scrub and needed a serious beat down. He’s seriously creepy as well, and considers most women to be saucy. He also loves his opium. Thanks to the arrival of Steven into the Otherworld, Noli doesn’t give up her soul to the wrong person, but her friend Charlotte is chosen instead.
I mostly liked Noli’s character traits and was seriously angered when it was all taken away from her because of her mother, Kevighn, and even her best friend Steven’s idiotic bargains with the Queen. Noli may lack sense when it comes to her tinkering with hover boards and flying machines, but it doesn’t mean that she’s willful or disrespectful towards anyone. There will be some who will say that Noli’s obsession with her own reputation is a negative quality. I disagree. She’s 16 years old folks living in a time where a persons sexual reputation is everything. Seriously, allow her to choose when and who she will give up her V-jay to.
Once in Fairy, she ends up having to face the reality that she will never see her mother again thanks to Kevighn’s actions, and the fact that she partakes in the eating of Fey food. I always found that suspect. A mortal comes into Fey, eats food, and drink, and now is forever stuck in a realm where she is an outcast. I was surprised that Noli remembered Steven's warnings about not making bargains with Fey, and not saying thank you.
I seriously considered putting a warning label on my review that this book may not be suitable for those under the age of 18 because of sexual innuendos, and situations where Noli and others are put in difficult situations with the schools so called Doctor. I also don’t think that kids under the age of 18 needs to be forced fed situations where opium and women in brothels are the standard for one of the characters.
I’m not quite sure what I feel about reading the next book in the series. Obviously, Noli has some serious issues with her relationship with Steven, and her own humanity that was snared away from her thanks to an idiotic bargain. I anger towards Steven for not understanding that you don’t make any sort of bargain with a Fey Queen without checking the facts first. Yet, it’s Steven who sticks by Noli’s side when everything goes sideways and she’s fundamentally changed from a human to Fey.
In the end, this was a different sort of novel for me. While there are steampunk aspects to the story, it read more like a romance novel mixed with supernatural elements.
ARC recvd via Netgalley.com for Flux. Releases August 8, 2012
Title - Innocent Darkness (The Aether Chronicles)
Author - Suzanne Lazear
Publisher - Flux
Released Date - August 8, 2012