The city of Vox survives in darkness, under a sun that burns without light. In Vox’s permanent night, light bulbs are precious, the rich live in radiance and three Hearts beat light into the city. Aquila. Corvus. Cancer.
Hearts that bring power to the light-deprived citizens of the city of Vox whilst ghosts haunt the streets, clawing at headlights. Prometheus, liquid light, is the drug of choice. The body of young Vivian North, her blood shining brightly with unnatural light, has no place on the streets.
When Cancer is stolen, the weaponisation of its raw power threatens to throw Vox into chaos. Vox needs a hero, and it falls to cop Virgil Yorke to investigate.
But Virgil has had a long cycle and he doesn’t feel like a hero. With the ghosts of his last case still haunting his thoughts, he craves justice for the young woman found dead with veins full of glowing. Aided by his partner Dante, Virgil begins to shed light on the dark city’s even darker secrets.
Haunted by the ghosts of his past and chased by his addictions, which will crack first, Virgil or the case? (goodreads.com)
The beginning of the book was discombobulating and I’m glad I peeked at a couple reviews before getting too far in because it was there I found out the story was in verse. In my digital version it just looked like a really poorly edited, poorly structured mess. Well, that solved that problem. Moving along.
DARK STAR jumps right into the story so you’re left to orient yourself in this new world as you read but it doesn’t take all that long to do it. For a while, as I was reading, I was torn on what I was taking in. I just didn’t know how I felt about it, about the world, about everything going on. But as the story came to a close it really bloomed on me and I ended up liking it quite a bit.
With just a hint of pulp this crime thriller of a book is dirty and gritty and the protagonist is a grody anti-hero if I’ve ever seen one but he’s easy enough to get on board with. That’s not to say he’s all that likable. Virgil is rash and a junkie of the worst order that just barely has his life together but as the story goes on you watch him pull himself back together piece by piece and you end up developing this cheer for him, that you want him to succeed. And then the ending happened.
The world is an interesting one and the answer to the overarching question of who stole the Heart is shocking and dastardly and fascinating all wrapped up in the same torn bubble. There are some holes in it (lack of a nuclear winter, inability to farm with synthetic light being in short supply to the point where people learn how to read by braille because seeing books to read them is too much of a luxury) but it’s still a vivid world despite all of it’s darkness. Even toward the end, when the veil is lifted for just a moment, Langmead shows you the grit and gross of what’s really around them before the veil is dropped again. For how short the book was, and for how few words were used, it’s an incredibly rich world.
And the ending? It’s . . . disheartening. Sad. Kills hope a little. Despite that, though, it rounds out the book nicely and is more indicative of reality than a more red-bow-on-top ending would have been. I’ll spoil it if I say much more than that but you’ll get your closure even though you might not want it.
DARK STAR was a surprisingly good read. Not like I was expecting it to be bad. It’s just one of those books that you need to let it sink in for a while after you read it. The more you think on it, the more you let yourself digest it, the more it moves in and burrows into your soul a little. The structure of the poetry is completely lost on me because it was all messed up in my digital edition so I can’t say how well that played into the story itself. But it was still good without it. I recommend it. It’s a novella, really, and with it being a poem you’ll fly through it although I recommend against that. Read it and let it really sink in. You’ll get the most out of it that way.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.