Review: Love in Darkness by E. M. Tippetts


Title: Love in Darkness (Shattered Castles 2)
Author: E. M. Tippetts 
Date of publication: 21 Mayy 2013
Themes: Young / New Adult, Realistic fiction, Mental illness

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

My rating: 3 stars

Goodreads Blurb

Alex had everything when he was with Madison. But the darkness within him wouldn't go away. 

After two years apart, he returns to Pelican Bluffs and to the girl he never wanted to leave. Madison wants to give their love another chance, but Alex can't fight fate. 

He is what he is. 

Ruined. Crazy like his mother. And Madison deserves so much more. When his secrets spill out into their small town, Alex has a choice to make. Hide away in the darkness forever, or let love in.

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange of an honest review.

My Review

This is the sequel to Castles on the Sand which I reviewed last week on the blog (my review) but it can be read as a standalone since it includes the necessary background to the story from book 1. 

The novel is told completely from the POV of Alex and covers the rather difficult journey of a young man of accepting his mental illness and forging a life for himself. I liked his voice and felt great sympathy for his struggles. Still, at times I found him too detached from the whole situation, like he was describing events that were happening to someone else and not to himself.

We see Alex in a completely different light from the way he was presented in Castles on the Sand where we got only Madison's POV. He was emotional and vulnerable, trying to come to terms with his condition, yet he was very caring for the people around him. It was their love and caring in response to his, that ultimately gave him the strength he needed to find his direction in life.

The book deals with some very serious issues regarding mental illnesses and the way society treats people suffering from them. I liked how the problems were examined in depth. I can't say whether the mental health issues were presented realistically, but they were definitely described in an engaging and compassionate manner. 

Still, I think the author overdid the emphasis on the mental illness in the book. Suddenly in the small town where Alex lives it seeeds that everybody around him had some health, either mental, or physical, issues. It was just too much to be realistic. It made the story didactic, trying too hard to send a message on how to treat the the people with health issues in the right way. 

This worked to the detriment of the realistic development of the characters. Even the "bad" ones from book 1, gradually turned into "good" people. Their change of heart was too sudden and complete to be realistic. It made the characters unrealistic, too good to be true.

On the other hand, I liked the plot development a lot. The story had a smooth flow leading to a true positive end.

The Mormon religion featured prominently in this book, but it didn't feel forced in the reader the way it felt in Castles on the Sand and it is something which I consider an improvement. 

I was drawn to this book because of its subject matter and I really liked the author treated Alex's mental issues. I was disappointed with the other characters, maybe with the exception of Madison, whose love and devotion to Alex despite everything, I can understand. Still, it was a good read which I can recommend.

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