Book Review: Surrender the Dark (Dark Book 1) by Tibby Armstrong

Benjamin is a hunter who was blinded and orphaned at 8 years old when his family was slaughtered by a vampire. Tzadkiel is a vampire who was tortured by Benjamin's family, escaped, and has finally, 20 years later, healed enough to come out of hiding. Each want the other dead, and Benjamin is just the sacrifice Tzadkiel needs in order to regain his full power, but the situation gets complicated when their time together causes them to doubt what they always believed and they realize that not only do they have a common enemy, they just might have a mutual attraction to each other.

Title: Surrender the Dark
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 251
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review. Quotes used were from an ARC and may be different in the final copy.*

I have to admit, I’ve stayed away from paranormal romance lately, but I’m glad I took a chance on this book because I really enjoyed it!

I actually had the wrong idea of what this story would be like though. For some reason, I was expecting something along the lines of Benjamin being kidnapped and held captive and the two men falling in love during that time, but that was not at all what the story was. There was no captivity or Stockholm Syndrome. Instead, it was pretty much that they both wanted to kill each other but Tzadkiel needed Benjamin alive for the time being, and Benjamin was just waiting for the right opportunity, and then they ended up with a common goal (even though Tzadkiel still wanted to kill Benjamin). Both men thought the other was a monster, and I could completely understand why, but the irony was that neither really was a monster. And other than one really sappy conversation during a battle scene, their romance was full of tension but ultimately sweet and overall believable considering the premise.

Now let’s talk about Benjamin because <3 <3 <3 [incoherent mumbling and cooing]. He was kind of one of those perfectly imperfect characters whose flaws only seemed to make him more lovable, and sometimes I complain about that, but not this time because I just loved him! He had weaknesses and vulnerabilities and emotional scars. He had some insecurities about his blindness and his facial scars, not so much because of how it affected his life (he could still get around and do everything) but more because he felt like people judged him, were only interested in him because of pity or because they figured he’d be easy, etc. He was also a self-proclaimed alcoholic who drank often to try and forget his problems. Self harm and mental illness in his past were also hinted at (but they were never explained or present in the story). So yeah, Benjamin was prickly, but it was only because of the walls he built up, and I kind of just wanted to give him a big hug and make everything all better.

Benjamin also had some of the BEST descriptions (in Tzadkiel’s POV) that I have ever read. I’ll show you all an example of just one of them so you can understand:

There had been a moment when Tzadkiel had reached the top of the stairs and had seen Benjamin slouching indolently in the velvet and leather wingback chair. Long legs sprawled open, sunglasses reflecting the sparkle of the somewhat gritty bar’s ironic chandeliers, the hunter had looked half pirate and half king of his chosen realm.

The story outside of the romance was also good, but I was more interested in the characters and the romance.

The only thing that disappointed me was that the blindness was mostly canceled out by magical abilities that basically allowed Benjamin to see when he was near Tzadkiel (just in purple light instead of all the colors). That was a shame since, before that, the portrayal of the blindness seemed great with all the little mentions of things, like how Benjamin was able to get around the city by memorizing certain things, and how he poured drinks by listening to the sound of the liquid in the glass to know when it was full. The book also covered some misconceptions, like how blind people don’t have other supersenses. But then he could basically see, so that stuff wasn’t in the book anymore.

So overall, the disability rep could’ve been better, but I really enjoyed the story, the writing, the romance, and the characters!

*Note: This is part of a series and leaves some of the broader plot threads open, but it works well as a standalone since the next book is about different main characters.*


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18 thoughts on “Book Review: Surrender the Dark (Dark Book 1) by Tibby Armstrong

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  1. Olivia Roach

    I’m less big on character descriptions per se, and more so on their actions which go with their dialogue. That’s what can make me truly swoon for a main character. I am glad you could love Benjamin in this story, and appreciate this paranormal romance 😀

    1. Kristen Burns

      I like having some descriptions so that I can picture the character, but I also think good descriptions, like this one, do more than just show how they look, it gives you a feel for who they are. But of course the dialogue and action should show who they are too. Thanks!

  2. Julie @ Happily Ever Chapter

    I had an ARC of this one too, and I really enjoyed it. I had the same hangup about the disability. I thought what they did with it was interesting and something I hadn’t seen before, but I was still a little disappointed because the idea of a blind vampire hunter was awesome. lol! I didn’t expect this one to give me the feels either. I can’t wait for the next one!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I was disappointed about the disability since having it be erased by magic is just not a good or realistic representation :-/ But I was still surprised by all the rest! Not sure if I’ll read the next one though since I don’t really care for series where there are different characters in each book. I’ll have to check out your review!

  3. verushka

    What an interesting, complicated pair this is. I’m curious to know how the author worked through their reasons for hating each other,.

  4. Greg

    Talk about enemies-to-lovers! The vamp killed Benjamin’s family and blinded Benjamin, and B’s family tortured Tzadkiel? Yeah they’re gonna have some relationship issues probably lol. Sounds like it worked though. A vampire hunter and a vamp working together is a cool idea. Love the quote.

  5. kris @ lemon-notes

    Ahh yes, blindness is very near to me; my brother is blind. He was actually born that way, too. It’s really interesting to see how blind characters are depicted for me since I am very close to one. I DO have to say though, his hearing and touched are way more acute then mine are! I mean, how else would you be able to read braille lol. I know it’s not a supersense, but it still amazes me. I tried to learn braille when I was younger because I thought it would be really cool to be able to read in pitch black darkness and also wanted to pass secret “notes” to my brother. I failed epically 😛
    That is super frustrating that they used the blindness as kind of what seems like a plot point to push the two guys together. Almost veering into the “love will cure you” problem :/
    As far as descriptions go, I love them! A really interesting thing to think about for me when it comes to my brother’s blindness is how he literally has no idea how he looks or how he is perceived. He doesn’t see himself slouching in his chair. In my experience, blind people tend to wear their emotions very visibly. You can see it in their posture, their mannerisms, their unconscious habits, even if they’re trying to hide it on their faces. I think, as characters, they also provide extremely interesting perspectives.
    Okay, sorry for the wall of text, I just have A LOT to say when it comes to blind people 😛

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh I had no idea. The book even mentions something about how he didn’t have supersenses, but he was more attuned to those other senses since he had to rely on them more. So it makes sense that blind people might seem to have better hearing and touch. Lol braille seems super hard to learn, but I guess the difference is, when you still are able to see, you just don’t have the proper motivation to learn it.

      Yeah, I felt that way too, that it seemed like the blindness was mostly included so that there’d be a way for Benjamin to not recognize Tzadkiel right away :-/ Those magical cure kinda things always disappoint me because they’re not good rep. Unfortunately every book I’ve read with a blind character, they have some sort of magical ability.

      Huh, that’s really interesting. I never even thought about how someone born blind might show their emotions more obviously since they wouldn’t even I guess know how to make their faces or mannerisms look otherwise. Like, I guess we learn all those things by sight. I don’t mind your wall of text at all, I’m happy to learn more about this! That’s why I like reading books with disability, I like the insight into things I’d never even thought about or realized.

  6. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Okay, you’ve convinced me. I need to read this. It sounds brilliant, sure, it failed a bit with blindness thing giving it a magical fix (something I take issue with because I hate when that happens, at least make it mean there are more drawbacks than just not seeing in colour) but it sounds like it was a good story and a good romance. I may be able to convince myself to buy this anyway. I mean, it began well with disability rep so that’s something, right?

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, you might like this one. I took issue with the disability magic thing too because, exactly, it doesn’t do justice to real-life blind people. But the rest was good, so I don’t blame you if you still want to read it. I worry more when disability is portrayed poorly because there are some people out there who don’t realize it’s not a good portrayal, you know? But you clearly do realize, so it’s all good 🙂

  7. Lola

    Sometimes those romances were they start out hating or disliking each other and then slowly fall in love can really work. I recently read a book that had such a romance as a side plot where they first wanted to kill each other, but then got a common goal and worked together for a bit. That’s great the romance was believable.

    I also love those imperfect characters whose flaws make them even more awesome to read about. When well written those characters can be so interesting to read about.

    I recently read a book where a mental illness turned out to be something paranormal and it made me think of how you sometimes mention those type of plot lines and how you prefer when that isn’t the case.

    I like how you also link to your goodreads review now so I can remember to give it a like there :). Great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Enemies-to-lovers is fun when the author does it well.

      I love imperfect characters! And I loved this one lol.

      Yeah, it’s just that it’s not a good representation of disability since people in real life don’t have these magical abilities, so it undermines the real life struggles that people have and sometimes reduces the disability to a plot point.

      🙂 I figure it makes it easier for people to do that and also for publishers/authors to see that I cross-posted when I send them the link to my review.