Monday, 14 May 2012

Early Review - Dark Gift

Dark Gift
- James Swain

Publisher: Tor Books - Published 22nd May 2012

E-arc courtesy of netgalley and Tom Dogerty Associates

Peter Warlock is a magician with a dark secret. Every night, he amazes audiences at his private theater in New York, where he performs feats that boggle the imagination. But his day job is just a cover for his otherworldly pursuits: Peter is a member of an underground group of psychics who gaze into the future to help prevent crimes. No one, not even his live-in girlfriend, knows the truth about Peter—until the sĂ©ance when he foresees an unspeakable act of violence that will devastate the city. As Peter and his friends rush to prevent tragedy, Peter discovers that a shadowy cult of evil psychics, the Order of Astrum, know all about his abilities. They are hunting him and his fellow psychics down, one by one, determined to silence them forever.


Dark Gift is has a lot of different elements to it – some which worked well and other which didn’t. The story starts off with New York’s Friday night gathering of psychics and magical people when one of their number foretells of a disaster which will happen on Tuesday. From then there is a fast paced thriller with the lead psychic, magician Peter tangling with a killer who will bring the city to its knees. The action scenes are fast paced and exciting while the telepathic and magical atmosphere making this stand out from any regular thrillers. I really liked the insight into the world of stage magician and making the magician a psychic is a novel twist. New York is always an exciting background to a story and such a major event on the horizon felt extremely close to home after the events of September 11th. It added an undercurrent of fission and tension to the story.

However, there are a couple of elements that I found hard to agree with was the demonic element that raised its head towards the end. This felt like it was raising the stakes and making everything seem even more frantic but too be honest I’m not sure it was really needed. However, the idea of possession and choice was nicely done and in the end I have to admit that it fitted. My major concern is with the portrayal of Peter’s girlfriend, Lisa and his friend Holly. Both girls seemed to have the ability to burst into tears for no reason and never quite understood that Peter was trying to save the city and lives. Both of them wanted him to speak quietly and calmly when others were in danger – even finishing his stage show which I felt was unreasonable! I don’t know any women who would want her guy to finish work rather than save someone’s life! That really annoyed me. Peter’s character was a little too perfect and I struggled to connect with the characters on any deeper level. That said, the writing was brisk and I was certainly turning the pages fast enough.

Overall, this works better on plot and action than on characters. If you like your adventures fun and furious with a flavour of supernatural then this could be a diverting enough few hours – don’t expect urban fantasy but rather blockbuster action. I certainly enjoyed it once I switched my analytical side off!

Recommended for fans of James Rollins and Douglas Preston. 7 out of 10


  1. *snorts* Okay, a life is on the line, but finish your shift first, honey.

    LOL! Yeah, that's odd.

  2. Hm, I think this one would be more for a friend of mine :)
    Though I could watch the movie, if made, lol

  3. I'm not sure this one is for me. The way the characters were described would bother me. Too perfect? Crying for no reason. Hm... Plus, I'm surprised at the lackluster action. STill glad you did like it without your inner Spock. ;D

  4. it sounds quite complex and dark. I think I'll pass, but thank you for the review I didn't know this one.

  5. The blurb sounds compelling but the characters not so much! A movie sounds like a good idea though :)