A Brush of Darkness (Abby Sinclair, #1) By Allison Pang


'A Brush of Darkness' is the debut novel by Allison Pang. I was lucky enough to receive a review copy (after adding it to my wishlist - mostly because of the awesome cover) and I'm happy to report it was a fun read. However, I did have a few issues...

Although this is marketed as an urban fantasy, it's a bit misleading in my opinion. This book is much more paranormal romance. Most of the book is taken up with the relationship between Abby and Brystion. Lots of sensual, heat filled pages. Although I enjoyed it, it wasn't what I was expecting or promised from the synopsis on the back cover. This is not urban fantasy in my eyes nor is it 'dark'. It does dip a little unicorn hoof into the UF pool at the end of the book, but mostly it's very much to do with the sexual relationship between the two main characters.

Also, unfortunately for me, and this is my problem and mine alone, it contains dream sequences - and I really dislike dream sequences - they are a pet peeve of mine in literature. I find they can be far too obscure and I get annoyed and frustrated, so it was with great dismay when I find that Abby is a 'Dreamer', which means there are many pages filled with dreams. Other readers may find this aspect of the book enjoyable, sadly I did not.

The plot which surrounds Brystion and Abby is intriguing, although at times confusing, especially with regards to The Crossroads, but it builds to an exciting conclusion, which for me was the best part of the book. The aspect where creatures are being kidnapped and trapped inside paintings was well written and very imaginative.

The characterisation is pretty good too and the world surrounding these characters is interesting, and I loved the bookshop where Abby works. There are many supernatural creatures in 'A Brush of Darkness' such as demons, angels, vampires, and incubi, which makes for a varied and fun read.

The two main personalities are likable. Brystion is an incubus and so obviously this leads to lots of sexual scenes, sexual innuendo which was funny at times but slightly too repetitive. Abby is an ok heroine but she's not particularly kick-arse, until the end when she does find a bit of back bone. The other main character is a little unicorn. When he first arrived on the scene I loved him, with his little legs and tiny body and silky soft main - so cute... until he started humping Abby's leg and sniffing her knickers!

The aspect to Abby I liked the most was her backstory, which is one of pain, anger and self-blame. An accident sees her mother killed in an awful manner and Abby recovering from a coma leaving a metal plate in her skull and a permanently damaged knee which prevents her from dancing. I feel her pain, sadness and disappointment and there was one passage in particular that moved me considerably and tears pricked my eyes. I love it when my heroines get a strong and detailed background.


Overall, 'A Brush of Darkness' is a fun entertaining read. Ms Pang is a promising new author, her prose brings the world and characters she creates to life and I will definitely watch out for future titles - and after reading this ending though, I'm hoping 'A Brush of Darkness' is the first in a series! English I had heard excellent things about this book and it turns out that everyone was right. I loved it! I was quite impressed with the fresh and complex world Pang created. The reader is dropped directly into the story and left to figure things out without any excessive infodumps. That style doesn't always work, leaving the reader too confused, but I think this author pulled it off nicely. The heroine, Abby, was relatively new to the OtherWorld, giving the author an easy way to pull the reader into the world without it feeling clunky.

Abby was in a bad place mentally six months ago and did something rash. She signed a contract making her the TouchStone of the Protectorate in return for seven years of agelessness and a wish granted upon fulfillment of the contract. She also got an enchanted iPod thrown in for good measure. She had no clue what she was getting herself into and the situation is made worse by the fact that the faery she's contracted to, Moira, hasn't bothered to teach her much about the new world she's a part of. When the book opens we see that Abby has been holding down the fort alone for the past couple months. Moira left her a vague note and disappeared. As Abby finds herself pulled into a search for some missing succubi she finds her lack of knowledge getting her into one bad spot after another.

I really liked Abby. Her personality made her very approachable for the reader. She had some baggage that made her insecure and vulnerable, but she didn't let it turn her into a whiner. She didn't let people get close too easily and she tended to lie to herself, but who could blame her? She was witty and occasionally self deprecating and had an easy charm to her. She was fully aware that she was in over her head, but she did her best to keep her chin up and brazen her way through it. She found herself in hot water again and again, the last one to realize how she had messed up, but I think she handled herself very well. She had her moments of ignorance and obliviousness, but she never strayed into the TSTL territory.

Brystion was another surprise. He was brooding and sexy and had his jerk moments (often in the beginning), which I expected, but he also was surprisingly thoughtful and sad. He struggled with his feelings of inferiority and unworthiness. His worry over a future between them rang true for me. Hooking up with someone like an incubus is not going to be easy. They may have laughed about him being a walking orgasm and may have teased each other about the his powers of seduction, but the reality of what he is and what he does is not something to take lightly. The author did a great job with making him likable and sympathetic, despite some of his more mercenary qualities. Actually, maybe because of those very qualities. It's hard to fault someone for intense loyalty.

In addition to Abby and Brystion, Pang created a wonderful set of secondary characters that gave us a glimpse of many different creatures in the four paths. I loved quite a few of them, including Phineas, the adorable little unicorn, but I could have quite cheerfully beaten the crap out of Robert. Man, that angel was a giant douche. I could do with less of him in the next book. I liked that the author managed to make each of Abby's friends have a bit of depth to them. That's quite an impressive feat considering how many characters there were and that the main characters were never shortchanged.

Pang has a very readable voice that made the pages turn quickly. She easily shifted between funny and serious without ever jarring the reader. This one didn't end on a cliffhanger but not everything was wrapped up at the end. I am quite eager to see what she has in store for us in the second book.

Favorite Quote:

Throw me a goddamned rope! I wasn't sure if he could hear me, given the howl of the wind, but he signaled my words with a shrug.

I tried to bring one, but it couldn't come through the *bleep*. His voice was husky, a midnight fury laced with the metallic edge of bullets. He paused. Hold on! I've got something here, but it won't be quite long enough, so you're going to have to time it with the waves.

You'd better not be talking about your dick. I mean, you're well hung and all, but it's a Shadow Realm, not Fantasyland, I snorted, trying not to laugh.
English Review originally posted at http://yummymenandkickasschicks.com/?...

If you are a fan of Urban Fantasy books – even just a little – you HAVE to read this book! Yes, it’s THAT good.

End of review.

What, not enough? Okay then…if you want me to tell you more, I’ll tell you more.

I have a few blogging friends who are my Urban Fantasy go-to people. Our tastes are very similar when it comes to that genre, so whatever they like, I’ll like (usually anyway). All of them read and reviewed A Brush of Darkness and each and every one of them gave it five stars. And let me tell you, these are really picky ladies! I bought it right away…but it has been sitting there waiting for me to have an opening in my schedule. When I finally had that break, I was torn between two books to read. I was told this one was the one I should go with so, like the good little lamb that I am, I listened. And boy am I glad I did!

End of review.

Oh…you want to know about the story and the characters and all that too? I suppose… ;)

A Brush of Darkness is the first book in debut author Allison Pang’s ‘Abby Sinclair’ series. I know what you’re thinking: “Oh no! Not a first book in an UF series!” Typically, an UF ‘first book’ is filled with page upon page of descriptive passages that tell you about the world you’re about to enter and the setting where it will all takes place. It’s dull and a little mind-numbing, but readers of UF know that, if you can survive the first half of a ‘book one’, then you will usually be rewarded with a rich and excellent story. There is none of that typical ‘book one’ stuff in this book. Allison does such a wonderful job introducing her world, characters and situations that you don’t even really notice when you are being tutored. All of the information you need is given when you need it and usually in the form of dialogue or simple observation. Abby, the main heroine, is pretty clueless as to what is going on around her – she’s as clueless as the reader. So as she learns, we learn. The way that’s done is awesome. The pace, the story, everything just flows naturally. Can you tell I really liked this book? lol

Abby was a great heroine, one I am not going to mind reading more about. She is a TouchStone. A human who serves to anchor an OtherWorlder here. She was recently in a car accident that not only ended her dancing career but also took her mother’s life. She is having trouble dealing with everything so she pretty much jumped into the TouchStone thing head on without thinking. I really liked how she dealt with stuff. She didn’t pretend to know it all. She didn’t think of herself as a super hero. She did what she could with what she had. And that’s exactly what she did when Brystion approached her, asking for help in locating his missing sister.

Brystion… *sigh* If I had a list of book boyfriends, he would be on it. For sure. Brystion, or Ion, is an Incubus. I really liked how Allison portrayed him. He’s not this crazy horny buggar man-whore. There really were layers to this guy. Yes, he needs to ‘feed’ but it wasn’t all he was about like some other incubus’ I’ve read. And he broke my heart at the end. Tears people. Tears.

Yes, now I’m going to talk about Phineas, the horny little unicorn. I had heard a LOT about this little guy. How he stole the show and how his lines and actions were just hilarious. I was looking forward to ‘meeting him’. But as I read the book, I was worried that the unicorn character I had in my mind might almost be too much for the story. But once I met him and really saw how his characters plays out, I felt better. He is just right. Funny and snarky and yes, very horny, but not to the point where it feels like it’s too over the top. For me, it was always Abby and Brystion who led the story. Phineas was a wonderful addition and I do look forward to seeing where the story brings him and his role in Abby’s life, but the main two stole the show.

Overall, I found this to be an acceptable addition to the Urban Fantasy genre. Actually, I found this to be an exceptional addition! Allison’s voice is wonderful. A Brush of Darkness did not read like a debut author’s book. In fact, I can only think of one other UF debut book that read this well. I can’t wait for the next book in this series. Unfortunately, I have to wait…a whole year! ‘Abby Sinclair book #2’ is due out in stores in March 2012.

5+ stars English Holly said horny miniature unicorn and I said OMG I have to read this. English The first three quarters were 2.5 stars, the ending was definitely 3 fully-colored ones.

+ The story was not boring. I had no urge to stop. At no point. (But I wouldn't have searched for the book either, should I have mislaid it somehow.)
+ The heroine is likable, a bit clueless, yes, but intelligent enough and likable.
+ And the hero is hot and a bit self-loathing.
+ There were some very funny scenes woven in. Two or three times I even contemplated the possibility of extracting a quote, but my lazy side won.
+ The sex-crazy unicorn is cute, but if it were not for its crucial part in the plot, which required some witty talking, I would have loved it better had it kept his snout(?)/muzzle(?) shut. For your visualization: I imagine Phineas the Unicorn to look like a chihuahua-sized off-white My-Little-Pony with a sparkly horn, a firm little pouch from slurping too much bacon and cereals, lazy, half-closed eyes and pinkishly blue male equippment.
+ I loved the last scene before the very last. I have to admit I am a sucker for those heart-broken guys who have to come to terms with the fact that they have fallen for a girl but do not feel entitled to act on it. I enjoy the pain in their faces. Even more if they are the usually cocky types. If this scene was not there I would have rated the book 2 stars only.
- The world-building needs some final strokes.
- The plot is choppy.
- A lot of explanations do not really make sense. (For instance, why are all these Fairies, Angels and Demons running around in Portsmouth if they do not have a human TouchStone yet. Is it a requirement to exist among humans or not?)
- A lot of scenes are very random, partly enjoyble, witty or sexy, but pointless. I concluded that they were written first and then aimlessly connected with the rest of the story because the author or editor did not have the heart to throw them out. My friend Kim from Belgium tried to make her not-being-a-native-speaker responsible for her irritation while I first thought I had blown some fuse while turning the pages. Kim, we are both not to blame. I am positive.
- The instant attraction (Dreameater meets hyperdreamer, who has an overflow of nightmares. Let's shout B-I-N-G-O.). I've had too much of it.
- The evil ones are oh-so-evil.

So this is not going to be my next favorite urban fantasy series. And I will not mention it in one breath together with the Rachel-Morgan-Series, the Kate-Daniels-Series, Mercy Thompson or Sookie Stackhouse again. But it was worth the try and the time was not wasted. I had fun.

Allison Pang ↠ 5 Read

I feel deceived. LOL. A Brush of Darkness reviews suggested that I could expect hilarity and action from Allison Pang's debut, even a perverted unicorn. Absent any action, Darkness's protagonist Abby Sinclair delivers some funny lines, but the narrative lacks movement and life and labors under a clueless heroine.

Abby's apartment above Prospectus Intelligentsia Tabernus bookstore reminds me of Mac from Karen Marie Moning's Fever series, only Abby's more helpless and inactive. One expects physical or mental competence from a hero or heroine. One-liners notwithstanding, Abby never uses her natural human ability to question, sometimes deliberately. This ignorance and the self-referential humor about romance novels and magical sex-fu hint that Darkness began as a parody of urban fantasies and their heroines, but Darkness never manages more than some quips and instead of empowering her epileptic lead as smart, resourceful woman, Pang elects to thwart genre conventions by portraying her as just a little less useful than a massage chair.

I saw red the first, what, 50% of the novel with all the evasion, threats, and wannabe-wit that's too technical. In fact, despite the specter of her employer's kidnapping hanging over her, Abby spends the first half of the book arguing with incubus love interest Brystion -reducible to goldeneyesgoldeneyesgoldeneyes- and the second half shagging him. Darkness' secondary purpose? Establishing the cast of characters: an ornery, blond angel, a werewolf, a unicorn and some boring hoomans.

On the other hand, stuff happens in the last third or fifth and gathers momentum, action and a twist. I did like Phin the unicorn and Brystion's demonish Extreme Makeover. Darkness is a much more lightweight, humorous urban fantasy, however-- almost but not quite in the Mary Janice or Kate MacAlister category. If you liked Buffy, but you hated all that pesky violence, then A Brush of Darkness is for you. LOL. Three stars. English Let's see... Another 3 star rating, so that means I didn't love it and I didn't hate it. It's like lukewarm water. It's nicer than cold water, but still not hot enough to be comfortable in.

Sadly, I didn't really get into the story. It's very likely my limited knowledge of the English language contributed to the fact that during some parts of the story, I had absolutely no idea what was going on, but I didn't care enough to read those pages again. The author didn't really seem to feel like explaining everything properly, in a way that even Kim The Village Idiot understood what was happening. It can't be that hard if you ask me. Use small words.

The story pretty much revolves around a lot of succubi/incubi who went missing. This is how I felt about this and what eventually happened to them.

Seriously, at times I didn't even feel like it was important.

For those who don't like the OMG-SOUL-MATE relationships... I'm afraid I don't have good news. Abby (human) and Brystion (incubus) are trying to bed each other from the moment their eyes meet. I'm slightly more forgiving than usual, because he is an incubus, and seducing women is what he does. I liked how she sometimes doubted his feelings, but at the end of the day she only cared about bed gymnastics. At some point she even mentions something about how they only met 4 days ago. Yet they act like they'd catch a bullet to save each other's lives. I don't really see a reason for them to hook up, other than the usual. You're hot. I'm hot. Let's boink. *eyeroll* Can't say this book was very refreshing on that part.

What I absolutely loved in this book was Phineas. Yes, I'm talking about the miniature unicorn. Who makes ALL the other unicorns out there look even more unicorny than they already are. I would adopt him in a heartbeat. He is the reason this book got 3 stars instead of 2. It's too bad I can't really say that much about him without spoiling anybody. There is one scene towards the end that even made me laugh out loud. His methods of silencing a group of people is just plain awesome.

I will read the sequel because I really hope I will finally find out what the hell happened in the first book. English It’s easiest to cross between worlds at liminal times of the day. Angels travel most easily at dawn, faeries at twilight, and demons at midnight. As for noon… well, you’ll just have to read and find out!

When supernatural beings (“OtherFolk”) want to pass between worlds without these limitations, they can bond with humans, called TouchStones, who help anchor them to the mortal world. Abby Sinclair is contracted as the TouchStone to Moira, a powerful faerie, but she’s keeping a secret: Moira has been missing for months. Abby doesn’t know whether this is normal faerie behavior or if it’s something to worry about. Then she learns that other OtherFolk have gone missing recently as well. Also complicating the situation is Brystion, a gorgeous, standoffish incubus.

There’s a lot of unoriginal writing out there, and so it’s always nice to find a book that feels this fresh. Allison Pang combines old faerie lore from the ballads, particularly “Thomas the Rhymer,” with up-to-the-minute snarky humor (“FML”) to create a book that feels both mythic and fun. The details of supernatural contracts, the Midnight Marketplace, and the dream realm are vividly described and compelling. I also have a soft spot for any book where the arts are inextricably tied to magic, as in the case of Abby’s friend Melanie and her very special violin.

Abby herself is a memorable character. She’s not the combat-happy type of heroine you might be used to, but she’s smart and snarky, haunted by a loss in her past, and trying to stay afloat in a dangerous world. As a love interest, Brystion seems typical on the surface (sexy goth guy with a magical talent that turns Abby’s knees to jelly) but Pang brings some realism into the equation. Brystion’s sexual mojo creates believable trust issues between him and Abby. We understand why Abby fears him even as we start to see the honorable man at his core.

A Brush of Darkness is a unique, character-driven read. I look forward to seeing what’s in store for Abby, and I definitely hope we’ll be seeing more of Brystion. If there’s any issue with the book, it’s that one part of the mystery was obvious to me really early. However, this is a promising debut for Pang and her funny, relatable heroine. Give it a shot if you like the Jane True books by Nicole Peeler. The humor, the close-knit cast, and the heroine whose talents lie in areas other than brawling, to my mind, add up to a similar ambiance. English Hmmm. I'm not really sure about this book because it has a lot going on and I'm not sure my brain was paying attention the whole time I was reading this. It happens, unintentionally clocking out mentally.

What I liked about this book was Abby being resilient. She's been left to tend to her Fae employer's bookshop and magical Midnight Market. She's Moira, the Fae Protectorate's Touchstone, her human anchor to this world/dimension. It's kind of an indentured servant kind of deal. Abby doesn't really know much due to being a Touchstone for 2 months before her employer disappeared for 4 months, and had had to keep trucking. I liked that she kept the store going and tried to handle things.

Enter Brystion. His sister is missing and he enlists Abby to help him find her. He's sex walking and comes with a lot of mystery and confusion. I didn't hate him, didn't like him, more so confused about him and that ending. If anyone wants to explain that to me, please do.

I liked the plethora of mystical beings and the setting. It's definitely less of a 'we're all beautiful mystical beings' and more of a 'we're all really odd looking things that wear glamours.' Like the werewolf guy being shaggy with a lupine snout and toothy. I liked the unicorn, Phin, best. He's tiny, horny, sarcastic, humps legs, roots in Abby's lingerie drawer, likes to bite, and eats like a pig.

The plot and villain were interesting. Small bits of humor. More so a lot of running around and getting into messes. I don't think everything was explained as well as it should've been, but maybe that's on purpose because this is a series? Or I wasn't paying attention. Either way, I liked this, and I would read the next book. English Spoilers

I hated Brystion the so called 'hero'.


-He was a wanker.
-He was a pig.
-He was a douche.
-He was a dick.
-He was a bastard.
-He lied to Abby and manipulated her.
-He handed Abby over to a psychotic killer knowing she'd be tortured and killed and then he didn't even feel all that bad about it.
-He told Abby the only reason he didn't let her die was because of her powers.
-He dumped Abby after telling her he loved her but he lied it was because he didn't need her anymore.
-He was a rubbish love interest.

The heroine, Abby was a dumb bitch.


-She was TSTL.
-She was a doormat.
-She was too much of a martyr.
-She let Brystion treat her like shit.
-She forgave Brystion straight away for lying to her, manipulating her and almost getting her killed.
-She just seemed to forget that Brystion handed her over to a psycho to be tortured.
-She begged Brystion not to leave her after everything he did.
-She had no self respect.

I'm fairly certain Abby and Brystion will end up together because they wuv each other so much but I hope I'm proved wrong.


The man of her dreams might be the cause of her nightmares.

Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as- sin incubus searching for his sister, convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.

A Brush of Darkness (Abby Sinclair, #1)