Chasing the Darkness
Morgan James Fiction (2022)
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (07/2022)
“Chasing the Darkness” by Cassie Sanchez couples scintillating epic fantasy and magical warfare with a slow-burn, passionate, romantic undertone.
Azrael relinquished himself to the harsh, brutal life as a member of the Watch Guard after watching the brutal murder of his mother and sister by a Spectral, a human with magic abilities tied to the natural elements. The Watch Guard’s purpose is to hunt down these Spectrals that refuse to conform to Pandaren’s strict rules. Known as the “Angel of Death,” Azrael is a ruthless assassin with little need for things like compassion, love, or retrospect. All he wants is to find the Spectral who killed his loved ones and amass as much power as he can along the way. All his plans get derailed, however, when emotions interfere with his duties and he lets a young Spectral girl and her brother run free. Soon enough, Azrael finds himself stripped of his post, hunted by those he used to call brothers-and-sisters in arms, and working together with the very people he had sought to eliminate all these years. In order to learn the truth about what happened to his family that night, and about who he really is, Azrael must fight against his instincts to kill first and ask questions later and learn how to re-open his heart to the emotions and human bonds he has closed himself off from since he was gobbled up by the Watch Guard.
“Chasing the Darkness” was almost un-put-downable right from the start. The plot moves extremely fast, but not in a rushed, hurried way. In fact, it’s easy to see how thoughtfully planned out and situated each moment of the story is. It flowed seamlessly, and before you know it, you’ve gone from questioning your compassion for Azrael as a narrator to being his most outspoken supporter.
Azrael’s character development from ruthless killer to an intuitive, thoughtful man who not only forces himself to see past his prejudices to help those he used to consider the enemy, but also find joy in teaching them to fight and protect their families, was possibly the most rewarding aspect of the book overall. The tension between Azrael and Kenz also served as a tantalizing, tempting bubble that as a reader you were just constantly waiting to see burst. At first, the bickering and hostility between Azrael and Kenz seemed a little cliched in “Chasing the Darkness,” but inevitably I proceeded to eat their enemies-to-lovers romance right up. Few genres do slow-burn passion quite as well as fantasy.
“Chasing the Darkness” was a thrill ride from beginning to end, and I am really excited to see where the series goes from here. Azrael’s journey is only just beginning, and if this book packed this much of a punch, then I really need to prepare my heart for the damage I’ll probably do to it when reading future books in the series! Recommended for epic fantasy lovers and readers who enjoy action-packed, magic-wielding stories, this book is definitely a force to be reckoned with!