Dark Legacy by Anna DeStefano

This book was sent to me by Dorchester as well (yes a string of books from them here lately). I had mentioned my interest in anything like the Shomi line, and this has some science fiction, paranormal and romance elements in it, which seemed to be in the same kind of vein.

The Premise: Maddie Temple is a promising young ER doctor who for the past three months has gone from being well-liked to unreliable and flagged for psychiatric screenings at work. The problem lies in Maddie’s past and a very troubled twin named Sarah. Sarah, who was put into long-term care for a vegetative coma after a car accident that killed their father has somehow invaded Maddie’s mind, slowly pushing Maddie into madness.  Psychiatrist Jarred Keith wants to help Maddie, but he doesn’t know what’s going on. Is Maddie losing touch with reality like her twin? Is that the family’s curse? Or is there some other conspiracy going on?

My Thoughts: This was mostly romantic suspense although the psychic aspects made also a paranormal. There’s a lot of action, much of it involving Maddie and Sarah’s mental instability and trying to stop them from hurting others because of it. Moments of clarity seem few and far between and the reader is propelled along a dark and disturbing ride with confusing images of a reoccurring nightmare involving the Raven, trees, a gun, and someone screaming. This nightmare is repeated throughout the story, sometimes interrupting other events and jarring the reader as much as it probably jars the characters.

There are a lot of disjointed sentences. In the dialogue there’s people interrupting each other, letting their sentences trail off and yelling. Even the third person narrative gets interrupted by the dialogue.  Other times, Maddie or Sarah are interrupted by each other’s mental link, so Maddie will suddenly undergo a transformation from herself into a hateful screaming banshee. It’s frustrating to read. You want to shake the characters so that they’ll listen to whoever is speaking! Unfortunately most of the characters are angry and confused about what’s going on so there are a lot of verbal fighting. It made me dislike them sometimes. All of these things added up to an emotionally draining reading experience. I think this was probably all deliberately done by the writer to make the drama the characters experience more realistic to the reader, but you do have to be in the right frame of mind for it, and I’m not sure all readers would be happy with the technique.

There is a romance that is going on at the same time as the suspense between the two doctors, but it seems that it’s an already mostly established one. Dr. Keith is already in love with Maddie, she just wants to push him away before he gets embroiled in her mental nightmare. Of course Dr. Keith won’t have any of this, and is pretty patient with Maddie, going beyond what I thought a normal guy would have accepted. His persistence pays off in saving Maddie, but because of where the story is, I had to just suspend disbelief and believe that Maddie was worthy of his loyalty. I understood that his patience and mental connection makes him the perfect partner to her and I hadn’t seen Maddie before she was close to a psychotic break, but there was so much angry emotions surrounding the story it was hard to concentrate on the romance. I also had to suspend belief when they were having sex, because it felt like inappropriate timing. There was a lot of feelings going on by then that I was not really connecting to, plus I didn’t like some of the phrasing during the act.

Overall: A fast-paced suspense, but very dark and emotionally draining. It’s one of those books where you have to be in the right frame of mind to read it because there’s mental mind games and turmoil and really angry (and at times unlikeable) characters. The anger is done realistically, which means things are messy, and that could be a difficult read for some. It looks like there may be a sequel to this one, but I probably won’t pick it up.

Dark Legacy came out today (08/25). Buy: Amazon | B&N

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