Night at the mansion – A review of the novel ‘The Dark Auction’

“There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.” – Mary Shelley

Author Joann Harris’ novel ‘The Dark Auction’ is set in a world where witches, warlocks and powerful sorcerers don’t think twice before wreaking havoc to get what they want. The story is set around a mysterious auction that is conducted every 30 years, where the top prize is a powerful dark power. Laura Johnson is a witch who has to team up with her father’s friend Edward to get to the auction. She isn’t after the prize but the killer who murdered her father to get their hands on the invitation to the auction.

The narrative in The Dark Auction is surprisingly engaging and refreshing to read in spite of its overused theme found in dime a dozen YA genre books. There is an easy going feeling to it and it never feels contrived or like it’s punching above its weight. There are no long winding and boring descriptions and yet you get a clear understanding of the characters and the setting. It follows a gentle and yet purposeful formula for setting up the characters and plot scenes. The action scenes in the book also deserve a mention. They aren’t overdone; in fact they are imaginative and well executed. The bad guys are well defined and their actions will scare you. And someone like Ashmedia’s allegiance to good/evil is questionable; he is an interesting character and is someone you would like to find out more about.

There are a number of important characters here who contribute towards the readability of the story. Chief among them are the protagonists, Laura Johnson and Edward Peters. Laura is someone who has tried to run away from her destiny of being a witch. Born to powerful parents who were connoisseurs of the dark power she too has her powers but she hasn’t perfected them. Laura claims that she is the centre of everyone’s attention because of a seductive spell put on her. But judging from her confidence in tackling even the difficult of situations one can deduce that she would always remain under the spotlight, spell or no spell. Edward is a college professor and is paranoiac by nature that inadvertently helps him out in a lot of situations. Unknown to him he too possesses a certain supernatural power, one that helps him turnaround situations to his benefit. He is vulnerable in love and shows his sensitive side while falling in love with Laura. These two have plenty of scenes together and be it knocking down doors of the enemy or the invincible doors to each other’s minds, they are good together and have a wonderful and exciting sexual chemistry.

There isn’t anything that I found problematic within the book, be it in the narration or the characterizations. There were a few editing errors in the copy I received but then again it was an ARC and I’m sure these must have been rectified before the book hit the stores.

Will there be another follow-up book? I don’t know but let’s hope so. Laura and Edward deserve another story to move their adventure forward.

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