You have to wonder what I'm doing out here, on the edge of the comfort zone again, up to my elbows in reading about things that normally don't work for me.... and enjoying it immensely.
The only thing I can clearly articulate is that THE DARKNESS WITHIN is unbelievably accessible. Part of it's the writing style I guess - there's something laid back, almost laconic about the style of the book. There are sly cracks, humour, a healthy dose of irony, even sarcasm in the interactions of the characters that frankly, you just don't expect in supernatural Gothic horror! But the thing that really really works is Emily. She's a great character, a bit feisty, a bit argumentative, ever so slightly annoyed with events, she is part accepting of the fate that her family has delivered her, and part just plain, flat out annoyed by it.
There is a massive dose of the supernatural in THE DARKNESS WITHIN - demons, ancient symbols and jewellery with power. There's also a very testy and temperamental Grimoire. The story revolves around a generational battle for power - the women in Emily's family against a Cabal of power - mostly male, but that doesn't ever degenerate into a supernatural battle of the sexes. Partially this is possibly because it's really not too clear whose side the character of Jehail is on, partly it's because there's nothing stereotypical about the leading women in Emily's family.
Ultimately THE DARKNESS WITHIN is part supernatural thriller, part romance, part dark fantasy, part coming of age, as the publicity blurb says, but it's also got the most fascinating "Australian" feel to it from the writing style and the interactions between the characters. The book is set in contemporary Sydney, and although there's not a lot of feel of Sydney about it necessarily, it's also not Gothic in that everything is dark and overwhelmingly old... but it is Gothic in terms of the overall atmosphere of the book.