by Sarwat Chadda
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 25th 2011
by Hyperion Book
series Billi SanGreal #2
New enemies, new romance, and new horrors,
Billi’s back, and it seems like the Unholy just can’t take a hint.
Still reeling from the death of her best friend, Kay, Billi’s thrust back into action when the Templars are called to investigate werewolf activity. And these werewolves are like nothing Bilil’s seen before.
They call themselves the Polenitsy – Man Killers. The ancient warrior women of Eastern Europe, supposedly wiped out centuries ago. But now they’re out of hiding and on the hunt for a Spring Child — an Oracle powerful enough to blow the volcano at Yellowstone — precipitating a Fimbulwinter that will wipe out humankind for good.
The Templars follow the stolen Spring Child to Russia, and the only people there who can help are the Bogatyrs, a group of knights who may have gone to the dark side. To reclaim the Spring Child and save the world, Billi needs to earn the trust of Ivan Romanov, an arrogant young Bogatyr whose suspicious of people in general, and of Billi in particular.
Dark Goddess is a page-turning, action-packed sequel that spans continents, from England to the Russian underworld and back. This is an adventure of folklore and myth become darkly real. Of the world running out of time. And of Billi SanGreal, the only one who can save it.
First of all I should say I am a huge fan of the first book in this series, Devil’s Kiss. That book inspired me to delve deeply into research about the Knights Templar and legends. So, when I was grocery shopping at a warehouse store last week and saw an ARC of Dark Goddess for sale in a box of truck abandoned books, I had to rescue it and take it home with me. I will admit it took me a while to get into this one. Probably because my heart was still with Kay who is now deceased. Though author Sarwat Chadda has taught “the dead need not linger”, I missed Kay. Billi seems completely emotionally detached in her mourning. And I was a bit taken aback by her treatment toward the child they rescue in the very first scene. Her loyalty to the Templar cause keeps her in my mind, a cold character, so at times I had a hard time relating to her.
I will say once Billi and her crew hit Russia the story picks up the pace. The Knights Templar are trying to find and save Vasilisa, Spring child who has the capability to interact with the earth’s elements. The world is suffering from a near apocalyptic volcanic explosion in Italy and Vasilisa is at the core of worsening or healing the damage. She is exactly what the Mother Russia, Baba Yaga is looking for to facilitate her world domination. The Templars must join forces with the Bogatyrs, their wealthy Russian warrior counterparts to protect the young Spring Child from a pack of werewolves sent to do Baba Yaga’s hunting. The Polinisty, ancient women werewolf warriors with their original Mongrol roots are one of my favorite parts of Dark Goddess. My other treasured scenes are those between Billi and Tsarovich Ivan Romanov. His introduction into the plot as he steps out of a Hummer is noteworthy. As well, the few vignettes where he and Billi are getting to know each other left me wanting more. I felt like yelling “stop action, emote!”
Overall, my feeling with this sequel… I was left hoping for chemistry and the fleshing out of Billi and Ivan’s relationship. I’m rooting for a resolution with Ivan in Billi’s love life. Dark Goddess is written like an action driven screen play, full gore and grit. It would make a great movie. Sarwat Chadda’s setting and detailed descriptions make for a tapestry of visual richness. I will pick up a book three if there is one because I find these books intriguing. Plus, I love Sarwat Chadda as a person. He is one of the first authors I met on twitter who will tweet you back & engage in conversation. If you’re a fan of The Lost Saint by Bree Despain or Dreaming Anastasia and Haunted by Joy Preble this one is for you! It is a great mix of Russian history, mythology and folklore that kept me entertained and engaged. Dark Goddess is rated PG-13 for violence.