Jennifer Armintrout's Child of Darkness picks up some 20 years or so after Queene of Light which I reviewed here. Ayla has become queen of the Lightworld, and she and her consort, Malachi have had a child, Cerridwen. The prophecy (from the previous novel) that a faerie will be able to free her people from their long imprisonment in the underworld is the main driving force of this novel's plot. For Ayla there is little else that plagues her mine--except for the future happiness of her daughter, Cerridwen. This novel also motivates the actions of many of the other characters, but works in concert with other plot lines.
This is quite possibly one of the most frustrating novels I've ever read. I cannot believe how unlikable these characters were, and I could barely stand the whining and the poor me syndrome that was so prominently featured. In the first book, Ayla was naive and impulsive, but she a lethal assassin and a strong, fair minded character. In this book, her character completely changes. She's selfish, high handed and manically arrogant. The way she treats her lover, Malachai and her daughter, Cerridwen is completely reprehensible, and though she appears to have their best interests at heart, at the end of the day, it's really about what SHE thinks is right.
Cerridwen was also annoying and completely unlikable. Her ridiculous rebellious crush on an elf from the Darkworld causes the near destruction of her people. And though she is completely ignorant of her origins, her disdain and mistreatment of the person who turns out to be her father is completely uncalled for. Her actions were so childish and lacked such forethought that I actually wanted something bad to happen to her. Unfortunately, it does, but not directly. Her complete disregard for her people, and her self-absorption causes the death of the person that she values the most her mother. Completely heartbreaking!
Thankfully, Armintrout provides redeemable characters in the form of Malachi and Cedric. Both men dealt with their own internal demons, yet they were able to act in a manner that was admirable. So why did the female characters have to be such idiots?!?!
Though it took almost everything I had to get through this book, it is not a complete loss. It has all the elements of a paranormal romance that anyone could want. A prophecy that brings hope. Dark mysterious men. Forbidden romances and betrayals. The plot is tight and well executed. There's enough action to keep the readers on the edge of their seats, and the secondary characters are interesting enough (and likable enough) that they can hold the reader's attention. There is some instances of violence and the descriptions can be somewhat graphic and possibly a bit gratuitious, but it works to further the plot.