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Review by KJ Van Houten

Review of In Darkness Transformed

In Darkness Transformed, book 1 of the new Paladin Strike Team, represents a return to one of my favourite SFR series, The Paladins of Darkness series by Alexis Morgan. This is one of those series that doesn’t seem very well-known but I consider it a hidden gem.

Alexis Morgan has written in several genres, including paranormal romance, sword-and-sorcerer-style fantasy romance, contemporary military romance, which I’ve also enjoyed – although I’ll admit that I read those primarily because I like this author, but was certainly not disappointed with her stories. But it’s the Paladins that draw me in the most, and I’m so excited to see her writing more!

The Paladins are contemporary SFR stories, revolving around men with unique abilities that enable them to defend a border between our world and another – a border that exists in hidden places along tectonic plates throughout the world, although most of the series focuses on the area of the Pacific Northwest. The world that borders our is call Kalith, a world of darkness and hardship because of a dying sun. At times the border weakens and even collapses, enabling passage between the worlds. Some of the Kalithians that cross are light-crazed, desperate and out of their minds, they are driven to violence and madness, striking out to hurt and kill anyone they encounter. The Paladins exist to stop these madmen from crossing into our world – fighting and killing if they must, forcing them to remain on their own side of the border if they can.

In Darkness Transformed is the story of Eli Yates, a special forces soldier on a training mission helicopter that crashes and kills everyone on board. Only Eli doesn’t stay dead. Unknown to Eli, his DNA holds Paladin abilities that allow him to return to life and heal quickly. Eli has no idea what is going on when he ‘awakes’ from death and watches as his body heals itself – fatal wounds knitting and closing right before his eyes. He fears what would happen if anyone finds him after the crash – fears the military will think that either he sabotaged the helicopter, is mentally insane when he tells his story, or lock him away in a laboratory to be experimented on to see why he is so different. So Eli runs. He goes to the cabin he inherited from a crazy grandfather – who doesn’t seem so crazy now. What Eli doesn’t realize is that many of the nearby townspeople are Kalithians – ones that did not go light crazy and violent, but instead were able to cross the border into our world peacefully and settle among humans without notice. That includes Safara d’Ennell, daughter of the local chief of police and a deputy herself. She and her father defend a portion of the border, unknown to the Paladins, hidden in a nearby mountain cave. Eli and Safara meet when he comes across her in battle with a crazed Kalithian not far from his cabin.

I’ll stop there and say this is where the story begins. Eli tries to hide his secret abilities and that he is on the run from a secret agency that has gotten wind of a possible survivor of the helicopter crash. Safara tries to hide the existence of another world, the border, and the Kalithian people that have settled into the area. Hiding secrets is difficult when two people find themselves drawn to each other – in friendship and more.

In Darkness Transformed ends in a manner that definitely set this up as the first of a series. As with the Paladins, I expect each book in the series to center around a different couple, with main characters from each book appearing as secondary characters in others. I’m excited and eager for more Paladins to come!

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