Dark Karma: Sword of Vengeance

Laura Simmons
Outskirts Press (2018)
ISBN 9781977201553
Reviewed by Keshia Mcclantoc for Reader Views (1/19)

“Dark Karma” is the third book in the Karma series by Laura Simmons. The story follows Luke and Nina as they declare their love and face challenges both in the real and mythical worlds. Soon after settling into their new relationship, Luke is framed for Nina’s apparent murder and must defend himself against the hands of dark forces like he’s never faced before. Meanwhile, Nina is left to scavenge the astral realm to figure out a way back to Luke. It’s a thrilling tale made of magic, betrayal, and intrigue.

What I found most compelling about this story was the instances of magic. In Simmons’ cleverly crafted world, humans can travel to the astral realm, practice physic abilities, and white or dark magic. Despite these fantastical elements, these characters live primarily in the real world, using these seemingly otherworldly abilities to help with the CIA, the FBI, and the like. I loved that way that Simmons approached this magic, blending it with our world is a startlingly real way. However, I also found the presentation of the magic to be a weakness within the book. Although the claim is that “Dark Karma” can be read as a standalone book, as a reader, I felt that I could have better taken to this story had I read the previous two novels. Often, the magic in the book was not explained and when it was explained, it was done so in long lines of exposition that read uncomfortably from characters who were supposed to have known each other for ages and therefore, wouldn’t need an explanation. While I found the magic and execution of it fascinating, the experience of learning about this magic as a reader was often jarring.

On the other hand, I was really impressed by Simmons presentations of main characters. Luke, Nina, and even the not-so-friendly Elliot were all well-formed and well-written, with unique personalities that shined clearer and clearer throughout the narrative. Although Luke was set up as the main character in this entry of the Karma series, I found myself most fascinated by Nina, as she learned to love again and look for a way to save the person who brought that out in her. While the main male characters of the series were nicely written, I felt that they were too similar, both in their affections for Nina and their steadfast determination. As a result, Nina stood out, and I found myself most interested in reading the parts focused on her.

Overall, “Dark Karma” is a fascinating story that would surely be loved by any fan of fantasy and romance. While I personally found the execution of several characterizations and magic to be conventional and confusing, I believe this issue can be remedied by fully diving into the Karma series and learning about the world from the beginning. But overall, Simmons proved herself a competent author in writing a tale of angst, magic, and determination.