In DARK GODDESS, author Sarwat Chadda returns to the world of the Knights Templar and their youngest and only female member, Billi SanGreal. After the harrowing showdown between good and evil in THE DEVIL’S KISS, Billi is trying to recover, but reports of werewolf activity thrust her and the other knights back into action. The werewolf hunt takes them to Russia, where an ancient power is searching for a Spring Child to bring about the demise of humankind. In Russia, Billi meets the Bogatyrs and the arrogant but attractive Ivan Romanov. In a race against time, the two must learn to trust each other in an effort to save the world.
Even more than Chadda’s first book, DARK GODDESS is packed with action and gritty scenes that don’t flinch at violence. This installment mixes together real Russian history, folklore, and legend to create an imaginative conflict. The mythology also expands to include demon hunters similar to the Templars, which made the existence of the Templars themselves more believable, and the references to Arthurian legend become more pronounced. While I wasn’t impressed with the character development overall, this book includes a slightly better relationship between Billi and her father, and it touches on the emotional aftermath of Kay’s death. The book also wraps with a conclusive ending that has a finished feel.
Despite these potential strengths, the book didn’t come together to me. Even though there was constant action, character development suffered for it. None of the characters showed much change or growth, and the storylines regarding Kay’s death and Billi’s relationship with Ivan were presented in ways that felt inconsistent with Billi’s character. The main plotline also felt slightly repetitive, because it dealt with another type of Oracle that immediately became associated with the Templars. Even with her training, Billi again comes off as less competent and weaker than expected. The villains also sometimes seemed ineffectual, and the battle scene descriptions often felt choppy or disjointed.
For those who love an action-filled book with folklore and fighting, this book will be a perfect fit. For me, however, I couldn’t enjoy it because I didn’t observe any authentic development in the characters. In future books, I hope Chadda continues to bring his gritty edge to the action, while also incorporating greater character development and a more believable romance.
Note: This review refers to an advance reader's copy.