Far Edge of Darkness by Linda Evans
As I try to do these days, I went into Far Edge of Darkness more-or-less blind. The front cover of a woman in an old car holding a pistol while what looks like Roman centurions gawk gave me the impression of a slightly goofy time-travel novel.
Far Edge of Darkness is a time-travel novel. It is not goofy. Also, the scene depicted by the cover art never happens in book itself. Sadness.
The book opens well—you get to meet some characters and spend time in their very credible worlds before shit hits the fan. There’s a low, creeping sense of dread surrounding the time travel itself—who is pulling the strings, and why? What exactly is the motive? How on earth can the wronged characters fight back when they’re trapped in ancient Rome with slave collars around their throats?
So long as this creeping sense of dread stood, I was hooked. Though never particularly beautiful or clever, the writing is technically good, and in an action story like this, that’s all you want. The characters, though never particularly charming, were fleshed out and acted in line with their personal ideals. And while the world was brutal, it was displayed with such realism that it didn’t feel gratuitous.
(This is a good time to say that Far Edge of Darkness comes with serious trigger warnings for sexualized violence against men, women, and children. There are also depictions of domestic abuse. These moments are, of course, brutal, but they’re not written like torture porn. If you are like me and just squeamish and sensitive, they might not bother you too much. If you find depictions of these sorts of things to be legit triggers, I’d suggest staying away.)
Eventually, though, the villain must be made known. And while I continued to enjoy Far Edge of Darkness, I must admit that once the baddie stepped out of the shadows, my interest waned slightly. This is in part because I didn’t find the villain particularly interesting and in part because the question of “Oh my cod, what’s the nefarious cause of all of this?”, at least in my mind, wasn’t replaced with a new, deeper question. It was just like ‘Oh, okay. Now we know who’s behind all this, and that’s that.’
After that, the focus of the book fell solely on survival, revenge, and getting back to the proper time/place. It was all well written with a solid pace and characters that made sense.
I dunno. I find Far Edge of Darkness to be especially hard to review because to me it’s good, but not amazing. There’s nothing specific for me to gush or gripe about. It’s just a solid action novel. I’m not an action novel expert, but this one reads much, much better than the others I’ve read, so if you are really into action novels, it might make you squeal with delight.
Fair warning, this is the first book in a series that never ended up happening. I was really worried the book would end without any sort of resolution, but thankfully Linda Evans did us a solid. Though the overarching plot continues, the emotional plots of this story feel pretty well wrapped up. Even if it literally ends with characters hanging off a cliff.
Covert art by Ken Tunnell: