Book Rating: ★★★✰✰ (3 / 5 stars)
Clark grew up as the son of a prostitute, working in a mine to survive. But one day, when he steals a drink from the captain, which he presumes is absinthe, his entire life changes. Suddenly, he is granted a power not only to bring people back from the dead, but trade their life for another, while also seeing the dead. While this power on its own might have been a blessing, with the army looking to use him as a weapon, Clark is forced to flee and seek refuge under his supposed father, Garth Treasure. But are more secrets afoot that Clark realizes? And can he live up to the Treasure Family name?
The premise of Treasure Darkly is certainly interesting. A steampunk western with ghosts and resurrection? It sounded like something right up my alley! Jordan Elizabeth is a fantastic writer, able to paint the picture of the society in a fast paced adventure. I was easily able to visualize everything taking place, wrapped in Clark’s desire to find safety, while also getting a clear picture of the rest of the Treasure Family.
Yet, ultimately I felt the plot was more “episodic” in nature. Every few chapters, the plot seemed to detour into another issue, something that would work remarkably well for a TV show, but left the novel feeling somewhat disjointed.
The prologue was fantastic – giving us a glimpse into Clark’s world. And I hoped we would have explored his earlier life with his new powers in more depth. This alone could have been a novel, in my opinion!
Instead, we skip two years, where we see Clark adapting to life at the Treasure Ranch. It quickly jumps from that, to Clark visiting his old home with his “step mother”, to his “half-sister” Amethyst being taken hostage, etc. Even once Clark begins finding out about his true past, that plot takes the backseat to the romance that builds (more on that below). Truthfully, I went into this story expecting a tale about Clark adapting to his new powers, while on the run from the army. But this was such a small point of the story, I had to wonder if it was really all that relevant beyond the few times his powers were put to work. They were more a plot device for convenience than something that actually has impact.
Then there was Clark’s romance with Amethyst. Now, I would like to warn you that there are spoilers ahead.
Right off the bat, Clark is drawn to Amethyst, despite how she is supposedly his “half-sister”. She flirts with him as well. While I had a feeling this would lead to something else about Clark’s past, it was uncomfortable to watch for the first half of the book. While we do learn that Clark isn’t really her brother, making the romance a bit better, it still felt unnecessary. This is especially due to how Clark finds out he’s not Garth Treasure’s illegimate child.
Clark, who has the ability to talk to the dead at times, doesn’t learn the truth about his father until he wants to flirt with Amethyst. His father, Eric Grisham, appears to him as a ghost right as Clark develops feelings to tell him it’s okay. While Clark asks Eric why he didn’t appear sooner, Eric’s answer is a bit empty at best: “It wasn’t the right time.” Apparently, a boy falling in love with his supposed sister IS the right time? A lot of Clark’s headaches could have been solved if he understood his destiny sooner…but instead it’s hidden from him more for plot convenience than anything else.
The story, ultimately, revolves more around Clark and Amethyst’s “forbidden” romance. But it isn’t forbidden; they’re not actually related, but no one wants to admit it. Once Clark discovers he has money, he could have easily told the Treasures that he knew the truth, at least in my opinion.
This romance, as well, didn’t quite strike a chord with me. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the “experienced man” with the “naive girl”. Clark read older than 17 – more like he was in his early 20s – while Amethyst read as a teenager. This created an odd dynamic that made me uncomfortable…at least from a personal perspective.
Ultimately, the premise saves this book for me. It’s well written, with a fun nature that I could see playing out in a TV show, which is a compliment in itself. As I mentioned earlier, Jordan Elizabeth is an excellent writer, able to paint a picture in my head. These saving pieces of this story is why I decided to give it 3 stars, because overall, it was still compelling.
While I don’t really plan on reading the rest in this series, I do encourage you to check it out if you like steampunk tales with romance and a fast paced storyline. It might just be for you!
What’s it about?
Seventeen-year-old Clark Treasure assumes the drink he stole off the captain is absinthe… until the chemicals in the liquid give him the ability to awaken the dead. A great invention for creating perfect soldiers, yes, but Clark wants to live as a miner, not a slave to the army-or the deceased. On the run, Clark turns to his estranged, mining tycoon father for help. The Treasures welcome Clark with open arms, so he jumps at the chance to help them protect their ranch against Senator Horan, a man who hates anyone more powerful than he. Sixteen-year-old Amethyst Treasure loathes the idea of spending the summer away from her bustling city life to rot on her father’s ranch, but when a handsome young man shows up claiming to be her secret half-brother, her curiosity is piqued. He’s clever, street smart, and has no qualms jumping into the brawl between the Treasures and Horans. Caught in the middle, Horan kidnaps Amethyst, and all she gets is this lousy bullet through her heart. When Clark brings her back to life, however, the real action starts, and Amethyst joins him in his fight against the Horan clan-whatever the cost. Defeating the Horans may seem easy at first, but going up against men with the same fighting vengeance as Clark, and a Senator with power he’s obtained by brainwashing the masses? Well, Amethyst’s boring summer at home has turned into an adventure on the run, chock full of intrigue, danger, love, and a mysterious boy named Clark.