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Dark Goddess
by Sarwat Chadda

Release Date: 1st Jul 2010
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978 0 1413 2588 0
RRP: £6.99

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If you're fifteen and your name's Billi SanGreal: all that is Unholy should be shaking in their boots...

With the abundance of gothic thrillers around at the moment, it was only a matter of time before the saturated Vampire market branched out into an alternative perspective. Billi SanGreal is a fifteen year old with a life that couldn’t be less ordinary. She’s a Squire for the Knights Templar and her father happens to be their leader. Dark Goddess takes up the reigns from its prequel: Devil’s Kiss. Lost in grief over the death of love interest and Oracle, Kay, Billi has immersed herself in Templar work – basically seeking out and dispatching all that is ‘Unholy’ – and yes, that means Werewolves and the odd Vampire.

The thrust of the narrative is based upon the premise of a Russian nine-year-old who also happens to be an incredibly powerful ‘Avatar’ (that’s psychic empathiser with all natural elements to you and me). Such an immense power cannot go unnoticed in the underbelly of the paranormal world and so it is no surprise that she is being hunted by a pack of Russian Werewolves so their ’Dark Goddess’ can devour her and thereby consume her power. Obviously the Templars cannot allow that to happen and so various gun fights, swordplay and general dicing and slicing, slashing and thrashing ensues.

Dark Goddess does crack along at a fairly nippy pace, but you can’t help but feel a bit of a mug when you reach the end. It’s a classic boy meets girl, boy and girl kill a load of Werewolves and some other bad guys and so save the world; with one pivotal flaw. Are we really gullible enough to believe that a fifteen year old has either the emotional or physical capacity to take down a supernatural being, never mind the wherewithal to instigate a plan singlehanded to either destroy a Goddess or kill an innocent little girl? And I cannot help but feel that sometimes fiction can go too far and portray children in adult guises and that creates pressure on our real children to be far too grown up too soon. Throwing in an incongruous mix of the ancient order of Templars, the existence of a Romanov descendant (Anastasia did in fact survive as it turns out), a mysterious bunch of Russian warriors whose name reads like a simile of ‘bogeymen’ and omnipotent Goddesses, Oracles, White Witches and bad Witches – Dark Goddess certainly brings its own flavour to the paranormal genre, even if it doesn’t quite taste authentic.

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