Following up on the 'present day' portion that wrapped up Never Again, the first Darklife short, Unspoken is another wonderful tale that serves as an open-ended tease to Ronnie’s upcoming novel, Crimson Dawn: Darklife Saga (coming this April). This time the tale is a bit more intimate, exploring the increasingly awkward relationship between Val and Irulan. There so many complexities to the relationship here - young/old, vampire/faery, commoner/princess - that it's remarkable how much of it Ronnie is able to convey in a single story.
Having been friends for nearly Val's entire life, the two women have been roommates for the past two years. For the most part, it's an arrangement that works, despite their opposing schedules and lifestyles. They have an hour or so of overlap to discuss their day (or, in Val's case, night), and generally respect each other's privacy. The problem is that Irulan is finding it harder and harder to disguise her love for the beautiful young vampire, and her jealousy is beginning to show.
Of course, since Irulan refuses to discuss her feelings, Val misunderstands the situation. The tension in their apartment reaches an all-time high, and Val ends up taking some crazy risks to avoid her best friend's seemingly irrational anger. Even when Val nearly dies, ending up weakened and scarred by her exposure to the early morning sun, Irulan still cannot admit to her feelings - even though they're readily apparent to everyone around them.
Like I said, this is a more intimate tale than the first, focused more on exploring the relationship between Val and Irulan. Ronnie has to walk a fine line between satisfying the reader's hunger for the full-length Crimson Dawn, and potentially alienating readers who come to the novel without having read the shorts. I think she's done an admirable job of it, introducing us to the characters, and providing just enough background to whet our hunger, without duplicating the experience of the novel itself. Val and Irulan are fantastic characters, and it's clear that they (and the world in which they've been established) are well equipped to carry an exciting new addition to the urban fantasy genre.
Once again priced at a scant $0.99, this is definitely a read worth picking up. Having been provided with an advance copy, I can assure you Crimson Dawn: Darklife Saga is worth getting excited for. I'll be happy to tease you all with a full review as the release date draws near!