Dark Ascension – M.L. Brennan

About the Book

As the “wickedly clever” (Publishers Weekly) series continues, reluctant, slacker vampire Fortitude Scott learns that nothing is more important than family—or more deadly….

After a lifetime of avoiding his family, Fort has discovered that working for them isn’t half bad—even if his mother, Madeline, is a terrifying, murderous vampire. His newfound career has given him a purpose and a paycheck and has even helped him get his partner, foxy kitsune Suzume, to agree to be his girlfriend. All in all, things are looking up.

Only, just as Fort is getting comfortable managing a supernatural empire that stretches from New Jersey to Ontario, Madeline’s health starts failing, throwing Fort into the middle of an uncomfortable and dangerous battle for succession. His older sister, Prudence, is determined to take over the territory. But Fort isn’t the only one wary of her sociopathic tendencies, and allies, old and new, are turning to him to keep Prudence from gaining power.

Now, as Fort fights against his impending transition into vampire adulthood, he must also battle to keep Prudence from destroying their mother’s kingdom—before she takes him down with it.

308 pages (paperback)
Published on August 4, 2015
Published by Roc
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This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.

Dark Ascension is the fourth book in the Generation V series, a series which has quickly become my favorite urban fantasy series. It seems like I spend a good few months every year since the first book was released looking forward to the next book in the series. Brennan has me hooked.

Dark Ascension is far different than any other book in this series. It has a much darker tone, and the humor, while there, is muted. This book feels a lot heavier, a lot more thoughtful than previous books, as Fortitude Scott is forced out of his comfort zone(s) and has to grow in leaps and bound, often in ways he has spent the previous three books trying to avoid.

Furthermore, some developments take place that Brennan has spent several novels building up to. It’s been a slow build on the author’s part, but the payoff is huge as this whole book kind of focuses on all the anticipation that’s been building in the previous books. Perhaps what impressed me the most is that Brennan not only managed to build up the tension in relationships and politics for three books, and somehow made all the events in this book surprise me despite how I was absolutely positive I’d be able to predict it all.

Fortitude Scott is a lot more introspective in Dark Ascension than he is in previous books. He’s still liable to have his kindness taken advantage of, but he grows more in this book than any of the previous ones. He’s more willing to put his foot down and say something when he’s uncomfortable. His relationship with Suzume has crossed the line from friendship to love, but it’s also strained as two very different people are trying to find middle ground. The push/pull between the two of them is very realistic and incredibly well done. Suzume is obviously the rock on which Fort balances himself, but she’s also a point of contention as he often doesn’t understand what she does, and feels hurt by some of those misunderstood actions. It’s fantastically real in a genre where relationships often strike me as a half step off.

This book really is about Fortitude’s relationships. Not just his relationship to Suzume, but the world around him, his family, and himself. Like I said above, it’s incredibly introspective as Fortitude is pushed out of his various comfort zones and personal denials and forced to really examine his place in the world around him. It’s uncomfortable and heart wrenching. The emotions are strong and visceral, and I honestly can’t deny that my heart was breaking to such an extent that I cried at several points.

I rarely cry when I read novels, but this one had sucked me in so deep I couldn’t help but feel Fort’s deep emotional pain, his confusion, and the intense discomfort he felt as he stepped outside of himself and truly started to don the mantle of the role he was born to fulfill. That is a testament to Brennan’s incredible writing skill. Not only has she managed to make me, a reader who hates vampires almost as much as she hates zombies, fall in love with a series about vampires; she’s also made me cry because of their realism.

I said above that this book surprised me despite the fact that I thought I’d have it all figured out. I didn’t. And the ending has me absolutely dying to read the next book. If Brennan has taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. I respect the hell out of this author for taking a genre that I generally scoff at, and making me fall in love with it. This book astounded me. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was obvious from the start that Brennan poured a lot of herself into writing this one. It’s too intense, too real, too visceral and emotional for it to be otherwise.

Dark Ascension was my favorite book in this series yet. It’s a bit darker, the humor is there, but it’s muted. There are a lot of personal and interpersonal developments, and some heart wrenching scenes that aren’t easily forgotten. Brennan has spent three books building up to the pivotal points of this one, and the payoff is huge. If you haven’t read this series yet, you’re crazy.

 

5/5 stars