“Embracing the Darkness” by Cassie Sanchez

Embracing the Darkness

Cassie Sanchez
Silver Labs Press (2022)
ISBN 979-8986822419
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (01/2023)

“Embracing the Darkness” is the second installment in Cassie Sanchez’s “Darkness” Trilogy. Following the events of the first book, Commander Jasce Farone is striving to atone for the wrongs he dealt as Azrael, the Angel of Death. Now, as commander of the Paladin Guard, he is working to build up a formidable fighting force consisting of both Spectrals and Normals, and to eradicate the previous prejudices Drexus and those like him harbored against those with magic. His quest to find his sister, Jaida, and plans to marry his fiancée, Kenz, will have to be put on hold, however, when new threats and old enemies surface. Aside from the outside turmoil, Jasce is also struggling to combat the internal desires and emotions of Azrael, who still lurks deep inside him. To save the kingdom and people he loves, will Jasce be able to combat the darkness and keep Azrael at bay? Or will he need to succumb to the ruthless killer he once was?

“Embracing the Darkness” was a thrilling follow up to the first book, “Chasing the Darkness.” As all writers know, the second book in a series or trilogy is usually always the hardest to pull off, since you’re trying to both build off what you started in the first book while also bridging toward what you envision for the final ending in book 3, which, of course, does not exist yet except in your own drafts and mind. Sanchez produced a remarkable sequel, however, bringing back not only the quirks and nuances of the characters readers’ love but also introducing new faces and challenges. Set against the backdrop of what I envisioned as a “Game of Thrones” meets “Hunger Games” style competition, the book contains a healthy balance of humor, action, fantasy-style elements, romance and frustration. 

“Embracing the Darkness” brings back a theme of fighting against one’s internal desires or intrusive thoughts. Jasce, at the beginning, seemed to have completely overcome the person he used to be as the Angel of Death. As a reader, I thought, too, that he was definitely on his way to actually attaining the kind of life he never thought he would be able to have. As the book goes on, however, Jasce learns that power, whether magical, political or individual, can easily blind us and cause us to revert back to being someone we do not want to be. As Jasce’s magic slowly shatters his mental stability, we see him struggle against doing what his intrusive thoughts want, and remaining faithful not only to his fiancée and Queen, but to the man he fought so hard to become since shedding the mask that was Azrael. Eventually, the quest for power, albeit to protect his loved ones, causes him to lose control over himself. This is something that we have all experienced in our lives, and something that makes Sanchez’s books easily identifiable for readers. You both feel for Jasce and sympathize with him, while also wanting to slap him upside the head for not realizing (or at least not wanting to realize) that he is letting his better judgment lose to old habits. 

“Embracing the Darkess” is a thrilling, action-packed fantasy novel that any sci-fi and fantasy lover would enjoy. 

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