I enjoyed this book so much that I was mad that adulting and responsibilities meant I could not immediately pick up the next one and read it. That is some pretty high praise.

About the Book

Dark Arts, the prequel to Fairest Creatures, sees grieving artist Rachel Matthews return home to Penzance in the winter of 2018, to find herself at the centre of a series of crimes connected to the Cornish arts community.

DI Brandon Hammett, a Texan with Cornish roots, is leading the investigations. Both Rachel and Brandon seek recovery and purpose. Rachel uses work at a local school to help her heal. Recently widowed, Brandon looks to set the world to rights and protect his hometown. A town under attack. Violent county line drugs runners compete with local dealers and smugglers, and the Penzance arts community is rocked to the core. 

Can DI Brandon Hammett steady the ship before it crashes?

Dark Arts features many of the same characters as Fairest Creatures and provides further insights and intrigues into the rich cast of players. 

My Thoughts

This book took me by surprise. We all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But we also all know we do. For some reason, the cover and the description didn’t jive in my head. The cover is fantastic – done by a local Cornish artist. But it doesn’t fit the book to me. I’m not sure why. So, when I got into the book I was surprised, and just got swept away, unable to stop reading.

This is the prequel to another book by the author called “Fairest Creatures.” You don’t need to have read that book as that is the nature of a prequel, it comes before a thing. But I could also tell that there were things I was missing, nods and in-jokes that I’d be privy to if I’d read the other book. But you’ll still enjoy this book without reading the other. But now I want to rush and read “Fairest Creatures” ASAP, which is unfortunately not as soon as I’d like it to be.

As someone who has just started taking care of a parent with similar issues, I appreciated the way Taylor handled Rachel and Lizzie’s relationship. It is so hard when you slowly have to parent your parent. Things become muddled, and it starts to untether you a little. I look forward to seeing their relationship grow and to seeing how that develops. I also look forward to seeing what happens with the love interests. I love a good love triangle, and was a little surprised how this one went. No spoilers, but I was happy. And it was a little unusual for me. So the author did well in guiding us to the “right” beau I think.

I appreciate the author and Love Books Tours for including me on this Book Tour and I can’t wait to read the first book. I also can’t wait to see what comes next for these characters, I hope. Fingers crossed!

Who’s It For?

If you like noir crime fiction, thrillers, and mysteries, this is a great one. Once I dove in I couldn’t put the book down. You’ll need to find out what’s going on in this one.

Content Warnings: Murder, Violence, Child Loss/Death (off page), Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse (off page), Parent Loss, Dementia, Kidnapping, Discussions of Suicide

About the Author

Karen Taylor is a UEA alumna crime writer whose thriller Fairest Creatures was longlisted for the 2020 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger. Based in Penzance, Fairest Creatures covers the reappearance after 23 years of the Sleeping Beauty Killer, a murderer who macabrely ‘immortalises’ his beautiful victims. Dark Arts, also based in Penzance, is its prequel and features many of the same characters.

Before turning to crime fiction, Karen wrote children’s books and short stories. Her middle-grade Sci-Fi novel Turbulence was shortlisted at the Winchester Writers’ Festival, alongside a novella and a short story. Her YA thriller Off The Rails won her a place in the Dragon’s Den at the London Book Fair in 2016.

Karen is also a journalist and editor with wide-ranging experience, covering everything from business to lifestyle. She’s worked on trade, corporate, and association publications, run international news teams, and contributed to newspapers and magazines including The Financial Times, The London Evening Standard, The London Magazine, The Independent, and The Far Eastern Economic Review. Her first book The Trade, published by Endeavour Press, was inspired by her globe-trotting years as a commodity markets reporter.

Karen has one son and two cats and spends her time between London and Penzance.

Amazon US: https://a.co/d/0jdIhLF
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3FPp5YK
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/201565555-dark-arts
Author Website: https://www.karentaylor.online/