Layla just wants to fit in at school and go on a date with Zayne, whom she’s crushed on since forever. Trouble is, Zayne treats Layla like a sister–and Layla is a half demon, half gargoyle with abilities no one else possesses. And even though Zayne is a Warden, part of the race of gargoyles tasked with keeping humanity safe, Layla’s kiss will kill anything with a soul–including him.
Then she meets Roth–a demon who claims to know her secrets. Though Layla knows she should stay away, it’s tough when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue. Trusting Roth could ruin her chances with Zayne, but as Layla discovers she’s the reason for a violent demon uprising, kissing the enemy suddenly pales in comparison to the looming end of the world.
- Title: The Dark Elements Series
- Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
- Genre: YA, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
- Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
- Trigger Warnings: Violence, religion, angels, demons, depictions of hell, car accidents, minor torture, gun violence, assault, murder, death,
- Rating: ★★☆☆☆
For those who don’t know, I am utterly obsessed with the From Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. In fact, I first picked up that series in October last year and have read it 4 times since. It’s one of my all time favourite series, so I naturally decided to try and read Armentrout’s other works. Boy, I kinda wish I didn’t. I want to preface this by saying I know I’m not the target age for this book – this book was clearly aimed at a teen audience, and I’m an adult, but I wanted to enjoy it so badly it just turned out to be a disappointment.
The Dark Elements is a trilogy centred around demons and gargoyles, who are also known as Wardens – supernatural beings who are sworn enemies. This book series was very much written during the peak of YA paranormal fantasy, so it’s no surprise this book was predictable. It’s established early on that demons equal bad and gargoyles equal good, and yet I found both of them so dull to read about. Our heroine, Layla, is part-demon part-warden, which in itself is frowned upon in their world. She doesn’t have the powers of a full-blooded Warden so she’s shunned from that group, and she doesn’t know a lot about her demon side to be fully accepted by them. She’s stuck not knowing a lot about herself, and not knowing the full extent of her powers. And, because this is a chosen-one story written in 2014, she has a lot of powers. A lot.
We meet our first love interest, Zayne, very early in the book. Zayne is a full-blooded Warden, son of the leader of the ‘clan’ in DC, and the boy Layla has been in love with ever since she could remember. One thing that is also established very quickly is that he is extremely dull. Zayne doesn’t have a personality. It felt as if, over the course of three books, his entire arc was loving Layla, being scorned by Layla, sacrificing himself for Layla and hating Roth for being with Layla. Where was the variety? I would’ve loved to have known more about him, and yet we’re never awarded that. He had the same arc in every book, and he was borderline insufferable. I understand that he’s supposed to be the ‘good’ guy in the love triangle, the childhood best-friend to lover, but it just wasn’t written well. I’ve read my fair share of childhood-friends-to-lovers which have been phenomenal (cough, looking at you You and Me on Vacation), but this just wasn’t done well. I didn’t care about their relationship, I didn’t care about him as a character, and I found myself forcing myself to keep reading when Zayne was the centre of the plot. Zayne actually has his own trilogy now, which, after reading some reviews, appears to have given him more of a personality, so who knows maybe I’ll give that a go.
Let’s talk about Roth. The second half of this love triangle, and the Crown Prince of Hell. Oh, Roth. If you wanted a watered down YA version of Damon Salvatore, you’ve found him. Look, he wasn’t a bad character. He was more interesting than Zayne, he had more personality and his plot lines were interesting. I found his relationship with Layla more compelling, and I truly believe they had more chemistry together than her and Zayne. I was genuinely rooting for them throughout book two (which happened to be my favourite book of the series, and the one I rated the highest), and I was a happy reader when that emotional investment paid off. To be honest, I think Roth is just a little bit forgettable. He’s just another bad boy YA character, and I don’t think he will be one I remember when looking fondly back at my year’s reading. He was fine – everything you’d want in a love interest, and definitely a product of his time.
The plot left a lot to be desired, in my opinion. While it contained twists and turns, one of which I didn’t see coming which was nice, it just fell flat over the course of three books. There wasn’t really anything there keeping me engaged or interested, and if it wasn’t for the books being fast-paced and easy, I may not have finished the series. Jennifer’s writing has definitely improved since writing this series, as seen in the From Blood and Ash series, but it wasn’t necessarily bad in this series. Jennifer has always been good at worldbuilding, and that was one of the things I could appreciate in The Dark Elements. Each book built upon each other in terms of the world, the lore and the backstory. It was an interesting world, with elements of real life DC and underworld paranormal activity to keep it exciting and engaging. Where the characters in this series fell flat, the worldbuilding and setting was there to carry the reader through.
Ultimately, this series just wasn’t for me. Whether that was because of the outdated YA content or the lack of interest I’m not sure, but I’m really disappointed I didn’t love this one. I can see why so many people love it, as it has a lot of really great elements and tropes in it, but it just wasn’t something I could see myself going back and rereading over and over again. As for the spin off trilogy, The Harbinger, I have some interest in reading it. If reviews are correct and Zayne is different this time around, I might actually enjoy it. For now, I think it’ll remain on my TBR and we’ll see where the year takes me.
Let me know below whether or not you enjoyed this series, and let me know your thoughts as well!
#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, hanging out with her husband, her Border Jack Apollo, Border Collie Artemis, six judgemental alpacas, two rude goats, and five fluffy sheep. In early 2015, Jennifer was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a group of rare genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and death of cells in the retina, eventually resulting in loss of vision, among other complications. Due to this diagnosis, educating people on the varying degrees of blindness has become of passion of hers, right alongside writing, which she plans to do as long as she can.