Darkness Splintered is the 6th instalment of Risa's tale, continuing on from Darkness Unmasked and opens with her still occupying a dark space, feeling betrayed by Azriel's far-reaching decisions that saved her life. However, true to character, she is able to shed her pity-party pretty early on and accept what her life has become.
Risa has lost the first 2 keys and is pulled into increasingly pressurised scenarios as the demands ramp up from those looking to get them for themselves. Madeline Hunter, evil incarnate and total nut-job (IMO :-)) and her father (another nut job) have upped the stakes in the race to get the keys and suddenly all who she cares about are at risk. It's time for Risa to step up to the plate and start fighting back - which she does admirably. There were a few twists to the plot that I found intriguing, namely, Hunter's history and the sub-plots surrounding her as well the hints of Risa's own hidden power, which the baddies seem to be more aware of than us, her erstwhile supporters! I'm so looking forward to seeing this develop (hopefully) and watch Risa as she finally kicks bad-ass butt!
From a character development perspective, Risa is growing up. Being forced into the unenviable position of being the only person able to stop Hell from taking over the earth, the pressure forces her to accept who she is, what is important to her and to realise that her dreams of her ideal future were just that - dreams! Managing reality and grasping what her heart desires is more important.
I was a little disappointed at the emotional connection between her and Azriel - in my eyes, this should be just as in-depth (although on the opposite end of the emotional scale) as the way she faces danger and the threats to her friends - with passion, determination and a well of emotion that makes you wish you were a part of her inner circle. But it isn't! While the camaraderie and banter brought a smile to my face, the love (and love-making) between her and Azriel left me just a little flat. I won't share any spoilers but the intimacy and sharing that should follow such an important part of her link with Azriel just wasn't there - it felt quite one-dimensional.
Apart from that, I am really looking forward to the next book where hopefully we'll see her succeed against all the odds!