Book Reviews: Dark Lava and Damoren


THERE IS A RAW AND SENSUAL BEAUTY in the islands of Hawaii. That same raw and sensual beauty can be found woven throughout the intriguing plot lines that Toby Neal develops for her series of mystery novels.

She writes about Hawaii.

She lives in Hawaii.

She understands the nature, the mystique, and the culture of Hawaii.

And all play major roles in the murder and mayhem that run amuck in Dark Lava, the seventh novel in her best-selling Lei Crime Series.

Why are thieves stealing ancient and priceless rock carvings from some of the most hallowed and sacred sites on the island of Maui?

Who would want to desecrate the soul of Hawaiian heritage?

And can detectives Lei Texeira and Michael Stevens solve the crime before bands of angry islander vigilantes take matters into their own hands?

The police want to see the thieves behind bars.

The vigilantes simply want justice.

And civil unrest is on the threshold of exploding into violence.

The thefts are bad enough.

But the detectives are facing an even greater danger.

Lei Texeira and Michael Stevens have recently been married and are still trying to sort out the differences in their own likes, dislikes, and personalities. That’s only natural.

What’s worse, however, is that an unknown and unseen enemy is dead set on targeting those who are closest to them.

The detectives are facing a foreboding and ominous set of mysterious circumstances that have them baffled.

Who hates them so much that they would leave shrouds as their calling cards?

No one know who could be the next victim.

Lei and Michael may well be the ones in the crosshairs.

Toby Neal knows how to write. Her prose is tight and engaging and could often be described as smart and stylish with a definite touch of literary quality. But even more important, Toby Neal is a great storyteller. And Dark Lava is one of her best.


I NEVER KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT when I read books that fall under the urban fantasy umbrella. I’m not even for sure I understand what urban fantasy is all about. But I do know good writing. And I do appreciate good stories. And Seth Skorkowsky excels at both in his debut novel, Damoren.

Just take a look at a single moment from the opening page:

Bloody fingers, tipped with claws curled over the lip of the fallen table. Spencer froze. A round leathery head, its ashen skin the color of birch bark, rose up. Blood and slug-like chunks of gore surrounded its lipless mouth. Pale eyes regarded him from deep sockets. The creature gnashed its teeth and gave a growling hiss.

I didn’t have to read any farther.

Seth Skorkowsky had me hooked.

If he wanted me to feel uneasy, he succeeded.

If he wanted to frighten me, he did.

If he wanted me to immediately begin wondering what would happen next, he got his wish.

Then we’re off following the footprints of Matt Hollis who possesses a holy weapon known as Damoren.

He stalks demons.

He terminates them.

Demons have no chance against the Damoren.

But who is he?

And what is his purpose?

That’s what a secret society of monster hunters want to know. They fear he is a rogue, a renegade, a maverick on a wild and reckless chase, and they believe Matt might pose a potential and deadly threat to their sacred and ancient order.

He is not alone.

Other monster hunters join him in a venture they must win. They have no other viable option. Lose, and the demons will cast the world into a terrible darkness that has no ending.

Can they fight a foe stronger and more powerful than they are?

And what happens when the hunters realize they have become the hunted?

Theirs is a historical journey of mythical proportions, and it takes them into and through an ominous dimension where man is never prepared to enter. And those who dare go there seldom return.

Seth Skorkowsky has written urban fantasy, to be sure.

But his vision of the genre takes on a whole new look. He sees it with a different pair of eyes, the kind of eyes that Tolkien used when he looked into the mystical troubles strangling The Middle Earth.

Seth doesn’t worry about zombies or vampires. Werewolves are things of the past. His creatures, his demons, will lie awake in the darkness of your nightmares when you sleep, if you can sleep at all.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Related Posts