Review: Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen

May 29, 2012 Review 4


Title: Dark Kiss
AuthorMichelle Rowen
Series: Nightwatchers #1
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Paranormal YA
Excerpt: Yes
Source: Netgalley
Reviewed by: Julia

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Teen; May 22, 2012
  • ISBN-10: 0373210477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373210473
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Sexual Content: Kissing, references to sex.


Good – A fun read with minor flaws. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.


I don’t do dangerous.  Smart, über-careful, ordinary Samantha-that’s me. But I just couldn’t pass up a surprise kiss from my number-one unattainable crush. A kiss that did something to me…something strange. Now I feel hungry all the time, but not for food. It’s like part of me is missing-and I don’t know if I can get it back. Then there’s Bishop. At first I thought he was just a street kid, but the secrets he’s keeping are as intense as his unearthly blue eyes. If he’s what I think he is, he may be the only one who can help me. But something terrifying is closing in, and the one chance Bishop and I have to stop it means losing everything I ever wanted and embracing the darkness inside me…. NIGHTWATCHERS When angels and demons must work together, something beyond evil is rising…



I have often used the words “world-building” and “mythology” interchangeably to mean the magic an author brings to their book. In DARK KISS, however, Rowen’s magic is definitively mythology, as her angels and demons inhabit a city that is almost featureless. Other than a school filled with between-class-hallways and a club where Samantha encounters the paranormal for the first time, this book takes place entirely in the characters’ conversations.

Reminiscent of Smallville or Roswell, DARK KISS is a blow by blow account of a teen dealing with the otherworldly, mixed with a little high school drama. Even the angels and demons themselves embrace the appearance of young humans, and offer more glimpses of their teenage experiences than of their true age.  And despite how often the word gets thrown around, Samantha’s workmanlike inner monologue and prosaic conversations didn’t strike me as particularly “special” at all.  Like any fairy tale, Samantha gets rewarded every time she offers kindness to a stranger on the road, and like any horror movie , she also gets smote every time she acts on an impure thought.  She and Carly were the least interesting characters by book’s end.  Though the characters hovered in a gray middle ground, neither a surprise nor a disappointment, the relationships and mythology of DARK KISS were enough to keep me reading.  There were homeless angels haunting the city’s alleys, an oddly physical transition to the underworld for any paranormal that dies, and the barest hints of a love triangle.  I think I would have liked DARK KISS more if it had included more details to set the stage.  This very dialogue driven narrative would have been even better if I could have envision a few good looking actors telling the tale (Kraven is definitely played by Ian Somerhalder in my head, opposite Jensen Ackles for Bishop).

As you may be able to guess from my casting digression, my focus was firmly planted on Bishop and Kraven by book’s end.  Samantha herself was almost entirely defined by her new magical abilities, and didn’t impress me much as a heroine.  Here’s to hoping she develops enough charisma to compete with her co-stars in book two.

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4 Responses to “Review: Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen”

  1. Elin

    LOve your review:) Never heard about this book before, but Im gonna check it out:)

  2. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

    Iann Somerhalder and Jensen Ackles, huh? Sounds steamy! 😉 I've heard some mixed reviews of this, so I'm still kind of on the fence about it. But it's nice to know that the mythology kept you intrigued, even though the setting was so bare. Great review!

  3. Julia

    Like most readers, I have what could be called a "fairly active internal life", Kraven and Bishop brought out the best in me 🙂 I can completely understand the mixed reviews, DARK KISS could practically be a screenplay it's so sparse. Good editing, nothing really bad as far as writing, but really light on anything outside the main characters talking to each other. I hesitated between two and three bats, as I didn't think DARK KISS was bad enough to rate "significant flaws", but a big part of me would mark this "no big hurry, maybe get from the library" just because of the style.