The Dark Side of Grace by M.L. Cooper

★ ★ ★ ★ ★/★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Dark Side of Grace is an original tale about the fragile veil that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead—and a rupture in the veil sends one woman, and her lover on a quest to uncover the truth about her family’s haunted slave past.

In the midst of Newark, New Jersey’s urban decay and newfound revitalization, Asha, a brilliant, sensual social worker and director of the New Day Job Placement Program for ex-convicts, struggles to uncover the horrific secrets that have led to a history of what has been called mental illness in generations of women in her family. At a time when everything in her life seems all so unstable—her ill-conceived lust for a former client and ex-con, the collapsing relationships she shares with her sisters, and her grandmother’s failing health and apparent manic hallucinations—Asha is forced to confront a haunted past that may very well destroy her future. M.L. Cooper’s Dark Side of Grace follows Asha through the poverty infested streets of Newark, New Jersey to the old-world Spanish moss laden landscape of the South Carolina coast in pursuit of slave master Henry Tisdale’s ghost. Master Henry’s torments and haunts drive Asha to the point of no return. Asha’s quest to undo the family curse that binds them to the ghastly, malevolent apparition reveals her hidden connection to black magic, voodoo and Santeria, and seals her love for the only man strong enough to stand by her side. 

I don’t have an up-to-date review of this novel having read it about three years ago, and not really being a “reviewer” I didn’t have a good one available but I still felt that I should showcase it somehow. So instead of doing a review I’m modeling this to be in the form of a recommendation…without the review part…(I’m trying to think if that makes sense), so let’s get started.

M.L. Copper can seriously write a story. This was my first novel by this author, and whenever they decide to write another one I’ll definitely book looking to read it. If you are into urban mystery paranormal fiction, with historical elements this is so for you and even if it’s not just read it! This novel surpassed being a good novel because of its black, urban, paranormal, historian, mystery roots and went to just being an awesome read, and one of my favorite books. The characters, along with the storyline, and the history lead to an extremely interesting as well as entreating novel to read.

If you’ve ever read the novel Impossible by Nancy Werlin, this book is quite similar to that but in my opinion it was so much better. The dark nature of the novel was just so enticing to my horror side but not overdone, and the progression/pace was perfection. It does feature an AA romance with very engaging characters like Asha, who was strong and independent, but also not afraid to admit her fears. Rahman who was a wonderful character, he is the embodiment of a black man that has done wrong in his life and is looking to change, even though society is really against you. Asha’s best friend could have had more of a role to me, she was kind of thrown in there a little bit, but she was a forceful character and I liked her. And Nzinga (I believe I’m spelling that right) was an awesome character.

This story isn’t the typical slave novel, nor is it a typical romance, paranormal, mystery, historical or urban fiction story – it’s a lovely novel bursting with vitality and strangeness that takes those completely different themes and meshes them into a cohesive story about consequences of the past and changing your future.

This novel was wonderfully written, had great characters, an amazing storyline, as well as a wonderful plot. I cannot explain the greatness of this novel, so you have to read it yourself. The Dark Side of Grace had me captivated from the very first page.