Cover Image: If Darkness Takes Us

If Darkness Takes Us

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Of Darkness Takes Us is a good science fiction novel. It is a bit far fetched,but it is still entertaining.

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I’m not typically a fan of post apocalyptic books, but the blurb for this one sounded interesting. I’m glad that I gave it a chance. I really liked the characters, especially Bea the grandmother. I think this is a book that the reader will be thinking about long after they’ve finished reading it. Thanks for the advanced review copy.

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Post-apocalyptic chaos in a suburb of Austin, Texas

70 year old grandmother Bea Crenshaw stays at home with her four grandchildren while her cranky, controlling husband and three of their children head to Dallas for a football game.

While they are gone two major events happen: a nearby train wreck releasing who knows what kind of chemicals into the air and then a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), a huge solar flare that wipes out all power in at least North America.

The story is told by Bea, a woman who secretly planned for just such an event.

I loved that the story has an older protagonist, a grandmother like me. She has to make hard decisions for herself, her family, and her neighbors as time goes on without government help.

The post-apocalyptic genre is one of my favorites and I enjoyed this book very much. There was lots of laughter but plenty of tears as the group settles into their new life.

I received this book from SFK Press through Net Galley in the hopes that I would read it and leave an unbiased review.

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On Friday in early October, the young adults in Bea’s family went to the Oklahoma-Texas game in Dallas and a big football rivalry. They dragged Bea’s husband Hank with them,and left the grandchildren with Bea. At the time Bea was glad to see Hank go, since he retired he was driving bea crazy. Bea wasn’t an adult babysitter type of grandmother. She only saw her four grandchildren together as a group on birthdays and holidays. Jonquin/Keno was seventeen and was tinkering with a robot he was building for school. Milo had been playing frisbee with Harry the dog. Milo was twelve. Maizie was six years old, and Tasha/Natasha was fifteen. Bea’s daughters were Erin and Jeri. Bea also had three stepsons but they had no kids. The kids were keeping themselves busy when a loud roar and clang rose from the direction of the train tracks. A brilliant light flashed across the city. There was a cacophonous screech , sounded like a train wreck. Bea and the kids ran outside to see and seen a huge fireball shooting high above the tracks, it was so bright it almost blinded Bea. A great gust of heat slammed into them. Bea shouted” Get in the house. Now!” Then Jack Jeffries the head of neighborhood watch jogged by and said “Y’all better evacuate Bea.” She answered, “ On the way Mr. Jeffries. Thank you.” Bea went in to ready the kids to leave. Mazie cried out her eyes hurt. Tasha got a wet washcloth. Bea hoped resting Mazie’s eyes would help. Bea had lived by the tracks for thirty some odd years and nothing like this had happened. Bea knew she forgot something it turned out to be Harry the dog. Bea tried to go back to get him but cops stopped her from going back in the neighborhood. They were kind of a mash up family. Hank with his three boys and Bea with her two daughters. They were in their thirties when they married where the kids ranged from five to nine. The kids other parents weren’t really in the picture much, their kids were raised together. The kids were now grown and in their thirties except for Jeri who just turned forty. Bea had inherited a large sum of money about two million from her aunt and didn’t let Frank know how much. She bought the house behind her and stockpiled things in case of an emergency. She also had a deep hole dug a couple of years ago when had gone to a family reunion and than a camping trip and was gone for about a month. Bea begged off and said it was because of her heart. She had a hole in the ground divided in half, one half was an enormous cistern-style water tank to store rainwater. It helped more than ten thousand gallons with a hand pump inside a locked closet in the garage. In the other half of the hole was a cellar. She had set it up like an old fashioned fall out shelter- except it was hidden with it’s vent work into the house ductwork. Two days later on Sunday evacuees were allowed to go home. According to bea’s mechanical wristwatch, it happened 2:29pm. The five of them were rushing about when Harry started squealing as if he were in serious pain. They hurried to him in the living room where he was running in tight circles and yelping. Than dogs started barking all over the neighborhood. Bea had never heard anything like it. Bea said something was wrong and gathered everyone and was going to leave. Than a bright green light ripped across the sky . accompanied by an insanely loud WHUMP. Next came a barrage of short squeaks and squeals staticky noise, the whirl of motors spinning to a stop, than the complete absence of sound. The power and cars shut down. The sky’s color seemed wrong, a little brighter maybe. Bea searched the sky and seen more green flickers flash across it.
Excellent book and I never wanted to put it down and only did when I absolutely had to. I was totally surprised by how much I enjoyed this book considering it was an apocalyptic book. I don’t usually like them that much. I have only read one other such book and really enjoyed it considering the theme. How hard bea worked to save her family and grandchildren. Than she opened her secrets - for the most part up to her neighbors and helped them. How even at seventy and on poor health she raises her grandchildren the best she can and always deeply loved them. I loved that Jack and Bea found each other again emotionally and what they shared. This book grabbed my attention from the first poage and held it until the last page. I loved the plot and the pace. Tears rolled down my cheeks at times while reading this great book. I loved the characters and the ins and outs of this book and I highly recommend it.

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Thank you @netgalley and SFK press for providing me with an ARC for this book. The synopsis sounded really interesting and unique. The story is of a grandmother who takes care of her 4 grandchildren in a post-apocalyptic world. The struggles and challenges they face are the central part of this book and how the 70 yr old lady had so many resources in her arsenal to face the darkness. This book was enjoyable and interesting. I rated it 3 stars. It was a good book. Check it out if you are interested in a sci-fi that is more character-oriented and has less information dump. This is what I would consider a light sci-fi read that is easy to get through.

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I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you NetGalley.

Sorry for the delay in my review, life has gotten in the way.

This book was unique in the idea that it was a grandmother taking care of the littles in an "end of days" thriller... she has to teach the little ones how to survive without technology and all the other modern items they're used to.

i really did enjoy this story.

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A 70 year old woman buying another house and building an underground bunker and filling it with supplies and no one notices? Unlikely. Apart from that an interesting read.

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When I first started this book, I was not sure how I was going to feel about it. A post-apocalyptic style book about a grandmother seemed like it could not be that interesting. However, I ended up being surprised by how much I enjoyed it and really related to the main character, Bea. Even though her family dismissed her and called her a hoarder, and her husband belittled and controlled her, Bea prepared for a major disaster in amazing ways. If not for her preparations, most of Bea's family and neighborhood would not have survived. It is scary how realistic this story really was, including all the information about climate change and past environmental events. It definitely inspired me to want to do more of my own research regarding these topics. I especially loved how open-minded and non-judgmental Bea was regarding some really tough topics like sex, abortion and relationships. I sincerely hope I can be somewhat like Bea when I am a 70 year old grandmother. Finally, I thought it was really interesting that it took a major disaster for Bea to realize she was not happy with her husband and had not been in love with him for many years. This touches on the idea of realizing what really matters when something drastically changes your life. I loved that she gave herself a chance to love and be loved again with Jack. I thought the end was very sad, but as realistic as the rest of the book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

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This book is actually really hard to review. There were aspects of it I really liked and aspects that I didnt care for. The story followed Bea, a 70 year old grandmother of 4 who is watching her grandkids while her husband and kids go to a football game a few towns over. Bea is an end-of-world prepper. Her family basically think she's an insane hoarder; she thinks of it as a "just in case" measure. Sure enough, the world gets hit with an EMP and the world as we know it comes to an end. The story follows Bea and her grandkids and neighbors as they learn to survive as society falls apart.

I really liked the characters. Everyone from Bea to the grandkids to the neighbors felt very real to me. Everyone was easy to tell apart and didn't get jumbled together. I really liked Keno and Jack especially. They, to me, embodied the spirit of helping and taking care of people and watching out for others.

However. The story kind of fell apart three-quarters of the way through. I didn't care for the ending at all. It was like the author wrote it straight through start to finish and didn't know how to end it so she wrote the first thing that came to mind. It was not satisfactory at all.

But, the writing itself was fantastic. It was easy to get into the story's groove and stay there. I really enjoyed most of the story's flow and how everything happened in the first 3/4 of the story. So all in all this book earns 3 stars.

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I really wanted to like this, and in some areas I did. In others, I didn't.
Dystopia doesn't need to be cliched, or have all of the same stuff re-tread again and again. So, if you like predictable dystopia, then this book is for you.
If you don't like predictable, if you want something a bit more interesting, it might be an idea to look elsewhere.
A solid, if predictable effort.

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A summary: Woke post-apocalyptic Texan granny's paranoid disaster planning may save her neighbourhood.

I've read my fair share of post-apocalyptic novels - in fact they're one of my favourite genres. However, they can begin to get a bit samey. This one puts a fresh spin on things though.

The cause of the apocalypse - is it a solar pulse? A nuclear event? A side effect of climate change? Or something completely unknown? With all electricity and communication down, who knows?

It's an interesting and very current take on the apocalypse that climate change is mentioned so heavily. Much as many disaster novels of the past few years have heavily referenced clueless but dangerous politicians, this fits into the zeitgeist in a terrifying way.

Pretty much the entire story takes place inside one Austin neighbourhood. Rather than featuring dangerous travels like many books of the genre does, it's more of a feature on community in hardship.

Particularly in the earlier section of the book, the dilemma between helping other people and prioritising supplies for yourself and your loved ones becomes apparent, and was explored in an interesting way with opposing viewpoints. If I were to get political I could explore how this could be compared to the political spectrum and how one's ideology may shift in times of genuine crisis, as priorities change.

It's a shame that the writing style is a little inelegant. This was particularly apparent during one pivotal scene in the final quarter of the book - a scene that should have been devastatingly emotional, but instead passed without the gravitas it deserved.

The final chapters however, were achingly real. The final tragedy of the book was a very human one, apocalypse or not.

3.5 stars, rounded up.

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Where Darkness Takes Us, author Brenda Marie Smith

With her novel, Where Darkness Takes Us, author Brenda Marie Smith has created a new (at least to me) literary genre I would call 'cliche fiction.' I read her book courtesy of her publisher Southern Fried Karma and NetGallery in exchange for an objective review. I was attracted to the book because it was described as Dystopian, one of my favorite genres.

Perhaps my expectations were not realistic. I expect novels to be fresh and original, peopled with fascinating three-dimensional characters, provide a new or interesting look at an established genre, have a twist or two, or at least something unexpected, and makes an effort to push the genre forward in some manner. Don't get excited. It's not going to happen here.
An unhappily married woman and grandmother (who just happens to have a supply of food, water, guns, medicine, gas masks and everything else you might just need for the end of the word secreted away in her house) falls in love with the neighbor who loved her many years ago. She is stuck with taking care of grandkids after their parents abandon them to go off in search of other family members. The grandmother, of course, is dying and surely deserves sainthood.

Her grandkids have hearts of gold and almost daily share their food and supplies with folks they casually befriend, not always for the better.

A 15 year old granddaughter gets pregnant even after repeated warning by the grandmother to watch out for the 'bad boy' down the street. Predicable, it ends in tragedy. A similarly aged teen who comes to live with them doesn't quite heed the same warning but is spared the tragic fate.

Another grandkid, a young science geek, amazingly knows what caused all the problems in the first place, even before the adults do. Will they listen to him? Not really.

The husband of the Mexican family down the streets leave to journey back to Mexico for medicine to save his severely ill son. They are, of course, undocumented. His wife is 'enlisted' to help the grandmother and ends up cooking for everyone.

I ached for something unexpected to happen. Anything. Giant ants, an alien invasion from Mars., event the budding scientist finding a viable solution to the environmental crisis (oops, I skipped over that one – it seems we did this to ourselves by destroying our environment).

I could could go on, but I won't. It is not a pretty sight. Brenda Marie Smith writes well if sparingly. It was an admirable effort and I do hope she continues writing. I won't be joining her fan club, however.

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While there are a lot of obvious flaws with the survival aspect of this story, it is a sweet story of survival in tough times and dealing with 'first world problems' when you are no longer in a 'first world' situation.

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This was not your normal post apocalyptic read. For one the main character was a 70 year old grandma. I think that if my kids would have been left with their grandma at that age they would be doomed. This had some feels moments as well as some unexpected ones. The writing was pretty easy to read and the story had a great flow. I look forward to reading something else from this author.

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Believable, boring, dark, easy-to-read.

The novel with a plot pertaining to an Electromagnetic pulse leaving the world in a catastrophic limbo was written with realistic detail, and interesting dialog, but lacked in character development. I felt the the middle of the novel consisted of repetitive situations, such as gardening, neighbor issues, not knowing when authorities would arrive, but overall the story was easy to read and enjoyable. Definitely made me think about the world today and what's currently happening.

Overall, I didn't like the missing action that I thought would be happening in an extreme living situation, but it's worth a read, one that should be talked about considering the possibility of the real life implications.

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the early Kindle e-read.

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PA is not my first genre choice, but this is really good. Never seen a grandmother as the main character in this setting, but she is great, and feels very real. This story will probably sell well for a variety of reasons, including that it will stick with you. Recommended.

I really appreciate the advanced copy for review!!

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Bea Crenshaw is a grandmother, an environmentalist, almost 70 years old, and thrown into an apocalyptic scenario in which she has to take care of her four grandchildren. Luckily, Bea Crenshaw is also a prepper and has been setting up for the apocalypse for a few years already.
If Darkness Takes Us focuses completely on a neighbourhood somewhere in Texas that becomes shut off from the rest of the world - lacking electricity, there is no more broadcasting, and - apart from some occasional hearsay - we do not get to know much abut how (or if) the world is being run after the apocalyptic event.
The book was great! Although it felt a bit trodded out a few times in the middle, overall the pacing was just right, Bea as the main character and narrator was unique, entertaining, and a fresh take on dystopian storytelling, and I couldn't put the book away.
I was interested in reading If Darkness Takes Us because I find dystopias fascinating, but also because I found the Texan origin intriguing: the book is a lot more progressive than I thought though, openly discussing sex, teen pregnancies, abortions, and religion.<br>I learnt a lot about prepping and what one would need to survive in the case of a disaster - and now I have the urge to stock up on everything in case a solar storm hits us.

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This book is unique and fresh. I love how it was technology that was hit. I think using an emp to create an apocalypse it's very fitting for the time we live in.

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I read this book over the holiday weekend and couldn't stop talking it about it with my friends. If an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) really did disable all things electronic in our world, how would you survive? Without cars, electricity, and phone service, everything ceases to function normally. In IF DARKNESS TAKES US, Smith plays on our deepest fears and delivers a knock-out of a book. It's about families, expectations and the true fragility of life. It is a great read that will make you think (and probably make you stock up on canned goods).

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I love post-apocalyptic novels, however, I try not to read a lot of them because there is always heartbreak. The reason I decided to give If Darkness Takes Us a try was because of the main character being an almost 70 year old woman who is left alone with four grandkids. The synopsis of this book sounded very unique and intriguing to me, so I had to read it. Bea was somewhat prepared for a disaster hitting the world. She wasn't taken seriously but she was smart enough to plan ahead. It wasn't easy for her to take care of her four grandkids aging from six to seventeen, but she did the best she could. She can't watch out for them 24/7 but she tried to. However, in a world that is hit by an apocalypse kids grow up much faster and you can't really do much about it.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It had heartwarming and fun moments, but also very emotional and heartbreaking ones. I cried a couple of times. But going into a post-apocalyptic novel you need to be prepared for anything. The author did a great job in telling the story from Bea's POV. It is obvious the author did her research and her writing style is very easy to read. Reading this type of stories makes me afraid of what we as people would do if we were hit with a disaster that would force us to go back to basics. I will definitely try to read more of these type of books in the future because I really like them. I highly recommend this book to anyone that is intrigued by what they read in the synopsis.

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