You know you REALLY want to read a book when you practically knock a friend out of the way to get to the last copy of an ARC. This happened to me a few weeks ago in Austin, Texas, when author Cate Tiernan brought two copies of Darkness Falls to a writing retreat to give away and there was practically a stampede. I prefer not to reveal my own shockingly greedy behavior, but suffice it to say that, when the dust settled, I had my galley.
In my defense, let me note that Darkness Falls happens to be the sequel to my surprise-favorite YA fantasy of 201o: Immortal Beloved. I inhaled that book in a happy, entertained, riveted gulp. It’s got all the elements of a fabulous read: a snappy main character, lots of dark humor, great brewing romantic tension, an undercurrent of menace and doom, and layers of secrets that unfold throughout the tale. Even better — for all its entertainment value, the underlying theme is substantive and relevant to teens (and adults).
The premise of Immortal Beloved is this: party girl Nastasia — aka Nasty — has grown increasingly tired of her empty, shallow life. She and her pretty-boy friends are Immortals; she’s been alive at least 400 years, and it turns out that no amount of partying can blot out the darkness she’s been trying to run from since an early tragedy. Feeling that she’s at the edge of an abyss, she reluctantly checks herself into a kind of Immortals rehab, every touchy-feely crunchy-granola aspect of which drives her prickly, sarcastic self insane. (Remember Sandra Bullock’s character in 28 Days? Nastasia is like that: guarded, closed-off, funny, and vulnerable as a sea urchin underneath all the spines.)
We featured Immortal Beloved in our annual Pig-Tales review newsletter, and handsold a boatload of them, but it was a tough book to move on its own because the cover and title combine to give the impression of a vaguely epic, lacy romance rather than a sharp, smart, funny paranormal fantasy. (Note to Little, Brown: this book could sell gajillions of copies with the right cover. Pretty please! It’s not that the cover is unattractive; it just doesn’t seem to accurately convey the story and its tone to potential readers.)
Fast forward to Austin, where, after the Texas Library Association meeting, my literary agent had arranged her annual retreat. Turns out that Cate Tiernan is also her client — and I am also not going to reveal the fangirlishness with which I learned that news this winter. So when I finally met Cate—happily, she is a normal person who handles gushing with aplomb—I was torn between gushing about Immortal Beloved and begging for an ARC of Darkness Falls. Because, really, there are some plot threads that are clearly going to be addressed in this sequel, and a romance I must read more about. Plus, I just miss Nastasia and her great big conflicted heart.
The final embarrassment of this story is that, after gobbling up a third of the book (every bit as good as the first so far!) on the way home from Austin, I … um … lost it. Somewhere lies the ARC of Darkness Falls, taunting me from the depths of a stack of galleys in my bedroom, my living room, the office, the store, or — more likely — from the inside of a tote I must have used one day, hung on the back of a chair or set down in the mudroom, and then lost track of.
Which explains why, the minute the doors open to the exhibit floor on Tuesday morning, I will be zipping to the Little, Brown booth, hat in hand, begging for that darned book.
What galleys are YOU dying to get your hands on?