Absolute Darkness by Tina O'Hailey #BookReview #BlogTour #Giveaway #Extract

A thrill ride through time that will make you hold your breath.
Sitting by the campfire, Brandy admitted a secret to her friends. She swore she saw a ghost when exiting a cave earlier that day. Was she seeing things? Did they believe her? The next day, breaking a cardinal rule, she snuck back to the cave alone. No one knew where she was. What if she fell or was trapped? There would be no rescue.
For ten thousand years Alexander had kept the time streams of this universe safe from an eternal destructive force that continually threatened to tamper and destroy all. Locked in an unremitting battle, the two foes become sidetracked by an unexpected visitor. An entangled journey begins with chilling twists and turns until becoming locked into an inescapable death deep within a submerged cave.
Who will come out of the watery depths alive?

It's my pleasure to be one of today's hosts for the Absolute Darkness blog tour. I'm also thrilled to be able to share an extract from the story with you AND to be taking part in a fantastic puzzle giveaway to win a signed copy of the book. Many thanks to Tina O'Hailey, Black Rose Publishers and Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my advance ecopy of the novel.
The first part of Absolute Darkness is almost two stories in one; after an intriguing prologue we are introduced to Alexander - a Time Watcher. He is able to slip through time but is locked in an eternal battle with Yindi, a malevolent manipulator who is constantly endeavouring to push time off its course. They pity mortals- or linears as they call them - believing them to be enslaved by time during their short lives. The other narrative features Brandy and Susan, two young women who are keen caving enthusiasts. I was surprised to find I engaged more readily with this part of the story rather than the preternatural aspects at first. I really liked both women and the scenes involving the caving community will be familiar to anybody who has camped with a fellow group of enthusiasts. In contrast I found Alexander a little mopey and at this point it isn't clear what Yindi has planned or what he is capable of. This isn't to say I disliked these scenes - I definitely wanted to learn more about both Alexander and Yindi and I thought their synaesthesic ability to see changes to the time stream as colours was a particularly interesting idea.
When the two narrative strands combine I warmed more to Alexander and really enjoyed the various changes in tone of the book as the plot switches effortlessly between genres - action adventure, romance, stalker thriller, supernatural fantasy and not so much time travel as wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey...stuff... There's a certain amount of foreshadowing in the book which means the reader experiences an increasing sense of tension even before the characters realise anything is wrong. And things do go very wrong for Alexander and Brandy which leads to a complex yet compelling storyline as they must play Yindi at his own game and negotiate the twists and turns of time to save themselves and the universe itself. Without giving anything away, though the Watcher and energy manipulator are new creations, there are echoes of more well-known preternatural entities, though the link isn't explored here. While there is a scene in which Alexander explains who he is and how he came to be where he is, I can't help wondering if the author is planning to reveal more later. The fantasy side of the book is cleverly plotted with lovely touches of detail which make for an immersive read but Tina O'Hailey's caving knowledge is also used to excellent - albeit disturbing  - effect. I suffer from claustrophobia, particularly if water is involved and couldn't help but hold my breath during some of the incredibly tense cave diving scenes.
I thoroughly enjoyed Absolute Darkness, it's a fresh and intense read with a fine mix of the supernatural and real world elements. The idea of other beings able to manipulate the time stream of our lives is one with so much potential for further books and I'd love to see this world expanded upon in the future with the age old battle between good and evil being contested once more.

Introduction: This is a face off between Alexander and Yindi. Yindi has realized that Alexander has feelings for Brandy, a linear (mortal).  Enraged, Alexander makes a potentially fatal mistake. If Yindi can take Alexander as a host – what havoc he could wreck on the world across ALL of time.

“A linear? You feel for that linear? Your food?” Yindi’s laugh was bold and loud, mocking. “You never lear…” He grunted and gasped the last word as Alexander hoisted him higher.
Weakly, Yindi struggled, scrambling to put his feet on Alexander anywhere to transfer the weight from the grip on his throat. A foot found purchase on Alexander’s hip and Yindi lifted himself a fraction.
“I’ll kill her,” he struggled as his foot slipped then found purchase again, “in the day.” Yindi smiled, the flesh of his neck and chin bunched and reddening from the tight hold, his smile a grotesque specter. “The universe…” another slip of his foot, “can wait.” Yindi croaked a laugh. “This will be fu…”

A dull crack. The smile relaxed slightly. The eyes, still unblinking, dulled.

It was a mistake. Alexander knew it as soon as the bones snapped and that horrible grin went slack. His hand, still about Yindi’s neck, grew cold and on fire simultaneously as the energy left the host body and swarmed through Alexander’s veins already flooded with warm life. In horror he dropped the lifeless body, too late. The energy that was Yindi sizzled and crackled in blue jagged streaks from the cooling husk and sought refuge in the closest being: Alexander. The dark, thick energy swarmed and curdled in Alexander’s veins. Instinctively he tried to return to his frozen moment in time; he could not shift. Pain engulfed his vision and dripped from his teeth. He sank to his knees in the dark dirt.
It wasn’t words or images that entered his thoughts from the energy. Instead his brain filled with raw, sweaty needs and desires for death and destruction. Retching a thin line of bile then shivering, Alexander tried to calm his breathing and desperately sought to focus, relax, force the creature from his body.
Through gritted teeth, “Not today, Yindi. You will not have me.” His breathing calmed, the cold energy recoiled leaving his fingertips numb.
He struggled to stand; leaves and debris clung to his britches. Focus, relax, breathe. “You will not have her.” Numb fingers, numb hands, numb limbs. His chest churned with liquid fire. It hurt to breathe.
Alexander picked up the lifeless body and slung it into the bed of the truck. He concentrated on his breathing and keeping the energy contained inside of him. He struggled. As a second thought he retrieved the dog’s body, the knife still buried in the chest, and placed it into the truck bed. Inside him the energy sporadically expanded and jerked, causing Alexander to pause as he climbed into the cab. Another long pause. He closed his eyes, willing the black putrid energy to remain calm; he turned the ignition. Without turning on the headlights he drove the stolen truck containing Yindi’s dead host away from the campsite and back towards the sloping hillsides.

Absolute Darkness will be published by Black Rose Writing on 5th July 2018 and can be preordered from Amazon or ordered directly from the publisher, using the code PREORDER2018 to receive a 10% discount.

#FORLINEARS puzzle: Please check out the virtual blog tour and you might find some embedded fun in the imagery. 
(https://www.rachelsrandomresources.com/absolute-darkness) In fact, I dare you. Can you find the hidden puzzles that lead to an autographed book give away? First one to figure it out wins an autographed book.  

Here's my piece of the puzzle - good luck solving the clues!

(Please note, Hair Past A Freckle is not responsible for this giveaway.)

Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour, details are below.

About the Author
Tina O'Hailey (author of animation text books “Rig it Right” and “Hybrid Animation”, professor in animation, visual effects and game programming, caver and occasional mapper of grim, wet, twisty caves—if she owes a friend a favor or loses a bet—whose passion is to be secluded on a mountain and to write whilst surrounded by small, furry dogs and hot coffee) was struck by lightning as a baby.


  1. Thank you for the lovely review! I think the next book has to be a prequel that explores Alexander and Yindi. They are more than they seem. - tina

    1. My pleasure! I wondered about a prequel-I'm looking forward to reading it :)


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