he story of The Beauty in Darkness, the debut novel of Sonoma County author Leah Reise, starts with an awakening of sorts, and a wish for true death. Edrea stands at the gates of the Décret, a clan of vampires who are sure to tear her apart for arriving without invitation. This is exactly what she is hoping for. She is two days into her life as a vampire, having been turned on her 29th birthday following the mortal attack from a rapist who left her for dead. And dead is what she wishes to be. It’s the only way to curb the insatiable thirst that is consuming her from the inside out. Unfortunately for her, the Décret have other plans.
So begins the tale of this Sonoma County native, a girl-turned-vampire who is cast into the underground world of San Francisco where the creatures of the night walk below the feet of the living.
Through the story, we learn of Edrea’s roots—a mom who plays favorites, an emotionally distant father, a doting yet elusive brother, and a jealous sister. Edrea, herself, is a free spirit, comfortable in her solitude. And even with their faults, this family is bonded. But now that Edrea is one of the undead, she must forget her family and move on.
Edrea’s new family is now Pierre, her creator. With him, she is to work for the Décret. She has the rare ability of being able to read people’s thoughts, and it makes her a useful tool among this clan. However, Edrea senses early on that something seems to be amiss with their eagerness over her gift.
What I love about this story, first, is the author’s ability with description. Reise has a gift for painting the scene without overtelling, and still offering enough detail to allow for vivid imagery. I was able to see everything within the story, and was easily transported from scene to scene.
The second thing I love is that much of it takes place in Sonoma County locations. This is one of my favorite reasons to read books by local authors, as they often use familiar places within their stories. Reise doesn’t disappoint, taking her characters to Bodega Bay and Santa Rosa, though much of the story is set in San Francisco.
The third thing I love is how large a role family plays in The Beauty in Darkness. There are definite themes that take place from both Edrea’s old and new life, which I’ll let you find out on your own to avoid any spoilers. As of yet, there doesn’t seem to be any sequels planned (and the end was blissfully free of a cliffhanger). But I can see how the story could easily be continued.
All in all, I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys supernatural and vampire fantasy.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Rated PG-13 for some non-graphic sexual and violence situations.