Title: A Darkly Beating Heart
Author: Lindsay Smith
Pub: Oct 25, 2016
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi (time travel), Paranormal (Spirits)
I received an eARC of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Reader’s discretion is advised: This book contains references to self-harm and the main character harms themselves, plans to harm themselves and other people.
This book scared me. A Darkly Beating Heart is a story about a troubled girl who has so much hatred in her heart that at times it seems to fester and boil over the page.
After a failed suicide attempt, her parents send Reiko to Japan to spend time with family and hopefully simmer down, but all she can think about is how to hurt herself and how to hurt everyone else around her. She reluctantly follows her annoying cousin to the historic village of Kuramagi. Here, Reiko accidentally (or is it) finds herself falling back in time and inhabiting the life of Miyu, a teenage girl in Edo-period Kuramagi who’s own convictions are just as or maybe even more vengeful than Reiko’s. As she moves between ages, Reiko is challenged to stay in her own time or stay as Miyu permanently, however, that may turnout harder and more dangerous than it seems.
Don’t expect to like Reiko. She’s downright mean and listless and all she wants is revenge on the people who wronged her. And yet, as readers, we’re left in the dark for most of the book as for why Reiko wanted to commit suicide, why she hates her family so much, and why she wants to hurt others and herself. Why does she want revenge? Apparently, She just does (for most of the book).
That’s one of the main issues I had with this book. Other than that, A Darkly Beating Heart is a fast-paced, spooky and an eerie read. Lindsay Smith brings the setting to life, with Kuramagi being just as mysterious as Reiko. And introduces Reiko and Miyu in such a way that you can’t tell where one girl begins or ends. There’s just raw hatred and a craving for revenge that, we, along with Reiko, get swept away by it all.
I’m tempted to place this book in the New Adult category as well because Reiko and many of the characters in the book are older than your typical YA characters. They’re all 18+ years old and in between jobs and school/college.
Other than being left in the dark for most of the book, I found myself racing to the end. I’ve never read a character quite like Reiko. I wanted to see in what ways she was going to carry out her revenge (AND WHY!).
The resolution was kind of lackluster, but the book was a ride from start to finish (from angsty teenager to near demonic-possession). Definitely pick it up if you’re interested in a fast read (under 300 pages), want to read about a vengeful bisexual Japanese-American, and want a eerie (and creepy) compelling read.