Cover Image: The Darkening

The Darkening

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The Darkening by Sunya Mara follows Vesper Vale, daughter of revolutionaries. Her mother was caught by the queen’s soldiers and she was given the choice of execution or entering the Storm that surrounds the city and brings a curse to anyone it even touches. She chose the Storm, and she never returned. Vesper and her father are in hiding, but after twelve years of successful evasion, the prince and his soldiers track Vesper’s father down. Vesper is desperate to save her father. She takes it upon herself to learn from her father’s secret book of experimental magic—a magic her father refused to teach her. She infiltrates the inner circle of the prince and grows very close to him. When Vesper learns that there is more to her mother’s death—and the path to saving the city leads into the Storm—Vesper must decide if she can trust the prince with her father’s secrets.

This book was gripping right from the start. I adored Vesper’s devotion to her family and her drive to do what’s right, even at the cost of herself. The side characters were strong and unforgettable. I am eager for the sequel!
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The Darkening is a captivating story set in a world of revolution, magic, and secrets. The plot follows Vesper, the daughter of revolutionaries, as she attempts to save her city from a cursed storm. Vesper infiltrates the prince's elite squad of soldier-sorcerers and cheats her way into his cold heart using her father's book of dangerous magic.

Readers are drawn into l Vesper's inner monologue and descriptions of the world and characters. The concept of a constant storm with monsters lurking inside is intense and adds a layer of tension to the story.

The characters lack depth, with their personalities defined by a single trait. The romance between Vesper and Dalca is lacking, with more chemistry between Vesper and Cas and more in common with Izamal. The plot is intriguing and picks up around the 30% mark when Vesper begins her training. The pacing is excellent for the first 80% of the book, but it falters slightly in the final 20%, with too much crammed in.

The main conflict is between Vesper and the Storm, as well as Vesper and Dalca. The conflict with the storm is much more fleshed out, with great lore and personal attachment to the storm. Vesper and Dalca's conflict is devoid of chemistry. Furthermore, the details of ikonomancy are hazy, with the only explanation coming at the end of the book.

The Darkening is an enjoyable read with a captivating story and atmosphere. The characters and romance are lacking, but the story is intriguing and I look forward to the sequel to find out what happens next.
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A thrilling, dark, and delicious tale!!

Vesper is such a special, strong character and this one is an absolute must-read for thrilling fantasy lovers!
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Beautiful storytelling with an interesting plot. The world-building was a little confusing at times but overall a pretty good read.
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Sunya Mara's The Darkening kept me glued to the page from start to finish.  Perfect for any fantasy fan, this book has some great worldbuilding and great characters.  The fight against a caste system and the desire to be judged on one's abilities rather than the circumstances of their birth is something readers can easily understand and root for.  I am very much looking forward to the sequel to this book.
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The Darkening debut started strong, but the ending was a confusing mess that made me think I missed something important somewhere along the line. We have a daughter who is determined to save her father, who is wanted for his use of ikon magic and is found out due to his daughter trying to be brave. The storm will curse you if you touch it and is home to some strange creatures. Vesper is determined to learn ikon magic even though it is forbidden for her to do so. I thought the little glimpses we got into her learning as she tried to save her father and the prince's mom.   I was confused about what they were trying to accomplish within the storm and then with the mom in the later parts of the story.    This author had a solid start, but I think it went off track in the novel's last few pages.
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Okay, so initially I was drawn in by the cover - but I stayed for the story.  I really enjoyed this world of experimental magic, cursed storms, wonderful worldbuilding, enemies to lovers back to enemies and all the other elements that made up The Darkening.  I found the pacing to be perfect, and that I truly wanted to continue to know what would happen.  Also, give me more Vesper. 

*4 stars*
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The Darkening is a quick paced, high tension read in an astoundingly dark and atmospheric environment. The world building, characters and relationships unfold like the creeping storm in the story: an ever present cloud with violent, aggressive bursts of activity. The story tangles through the strife of filial duty versus self and future preservation as well as the struggle for power intrinsically and extrinsically as character nightmares bleed into their daily lives. Vesper is one of the 

This is one of my top reads this year. It was empowering, emboldening, rich, heart wrenching, crushing, horrifying and panic inducing. I absolutely cannot wait to read it again and listen to the audiobook. And that ending? Book 2 can't come soon enough. 

The Darkening is ideal read for fans of series like A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, Vespertine and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo and even scrappy epics like Star Wars.

I was provided with an electronic copy of Sunya Mara's The Darkening from Netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers in return for an honest review. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review this title.
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I loved the setting and characters in this new YA titles as well as the world building. Enjoyed this more than I was expecting to, would definitely recommend this to any readers looking for an exciting fast paced story to jump into
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This book is an absolute blast to read. Young Adult and New Adults alike will be enthralled by this fantasy adventure with high stakes and a thrilling protag. 

So much fun!
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I enjoyed this one more than I expected! This story was dark and had some beautiful writing and while it lulled a bit in some parts for me, I still enjoyed the ride and the ending, especially. The atmosphere was so rich but I sometimes found myself wanting a bit more background and world building while reading. The concept of the monsters made of storm was really unique and cool and the story of the god of the sun and the goddess of the night was interesting as well. This entire story revolves around so much hurt, pain and fear, it is quite sorrowful and while the ending was, to me, the best part (though also a tad confusing lol), it also left me aching and a bit emotional! 

Content warnings: Violence, death, death of loved ones

A huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada and Netgalley for the e-arc. All opinions are my own.
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This was book was really great!! I enjoyed it a lot, loved the characters and the world building. The cover is also so lovely. This is a brilliant debut!
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Set in a fantasy world terrorized by a storm that leaves anyone caught in it cursed, Vesper Vale is the 17-year-old daughter of revolutionaries. Her mother walked into the storm, and her father is on the run from the Wardana, the royal guard, led by the ruler's heir, the cold-hearted Prince Dalca. Her father is a powerful ikonomancer - a magic user that works with symbols to weave spells - and refuses to teach Vesper; this all changes when the Wardana and Dalca catch up with Vesper's father and take him prisoner. Determined to save her father, Vesper befriends a mole in the Wardana and weaves an appearance spell that will get her inside Dalca's inner circle. Once she's on the inside, she realizes that nothing is as black-and-white as it seems: there is much about her mother's disappearance that she was never privy to, and she certainly never expected to fall for Dalca - or that he would fall for her, too. Strong worldbuilding sets the tone for this fantasy adventure, which has a good premise but gets in its own way at times. The interaction between characters is delicious, particularly between Vesper and Dalca: such romantic tension! The action is exciting, and the idea of ikonomancy is incredibly interesting; I wanted to learn more. This is the first in a duology, and I'm looking forward to where the story goes, now that we seem to be into the meat of the story. A good investment for your fantasy collections.
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Beautifully written and gripping start of a new series. Loved the magic and the richly developed characters in this one.
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*Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

It was a really good read, I enjoyed the premise.
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If you enjoyed Sabaa Tahir's "Ember in the Ashes" series, you'll definitely enjoy this one, which has a similar character/conflict structure. 

Vesper, our main character, grew up with rebel parents, protesting the tyrannous reign of the Regia who has allowed the mysterious storm to overtake the outer edges of the city. After her mother's disappearance, her father vowed to stop involving himself with the revolution, and hiding his skills as an Ikonomancer -- a magic system based on the drawing of runes. But when her father is captured, Vesper begins to take after her parents in her pursuit to get him back. As she enters further into the city, she risks not only her life, but her father's as well. 

I really enjoyed the setting and magic structure for this one. I think this book has plenty of tropes, but the storm being one of the main conflicts and the mystery surrounding its origin and effects really helped hook me throughout the entire book. I really enjoyed the magic system as well since it's one that rarely gets used in fantasy these days. I like the limitations of it, the accessibility of it, and the potential of it -- I hope Mara takes this further in the next book.

While this book definitely has debut novel vibes with the writing style, I think you'll enjoy this one for the engaging story and conflict. Looking forward to book two!
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The Darkening, by Sunya Mara
Published: Now.
Rating: 5/5
This is the sort of fantasy novel that I cannot get enough of. Sunya’s world-building skills are incredible. She describes a world that is being consumed by a storm that must be stopped before it destroys all within it. The royal family are cursed to be vessels of an angry god, who can do nothing to save his people. Vesper Vale must use dangerous magic to try and stop the storm, whilst fighting to save her father from the Regina’s wrath. She is constantly torn between doing the right thing, and simply focusing on her father. Vesper is a brilliant character, whose flaws are entirely palpable. I have a real soft spot for Iz, and really hope he crops up again in the next novel – if there is going to be one! My only criticism was that the Prince was an absolute ass, and Vesper deserved better.
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The Darkening was a solid book and it was a great for me. I thought the characters were great, as well as the world building. I think that the author did an amazing job with the plot and I really enjoyed the writing.
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***Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.***
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This was last minute request for me when I was looking around for another July book to fill out my reading list for this month. I’ve been a bit hesitant with YA fantasy for a while, because I feel like more and more I’m struggling to connect to this genre, and I don’t want this blog to just be me repeating myself about something I should be more selective about in the first place. That said, this was a good reminder why I haven’t given up on the genre as a whole since I really enjoyed it!

Living on the very edge of the city, Vesper is constantly aware of the storm at their door, quite literally. The massive storm, full of powerful, raging beasts has slowly been inching inwards for decades, eating the up the remaining land livable for the isolated city. When her revolutionary father’s past catches up with him, Vesper will do anything to save him. As she uncovers more of the threat that is the storm and the powerful magic that is all that holds it back, she realizes that there is more to save than just her father. But to even try means trusting the very people who arrested her father, determined prince and his team of magical warriors.

There was a lot to like about this book, even though much of it will read as very familiar to YA fantasy fans. Mostly, this goes to prove that even well-worn stories and tropes can still come alive if given a solid main character and straight-forward writing. The world itself was very interesting. For one thing, it’s tiny, composed of an ever-shrinking city where, over the decades, rings of neighborhoods have been eaten up by a vicious storm. All that holds the storm back from sweeping through the entire populace is the barely understood magic wielded by the ruler. However, the book explores how even in the midst of an existential crisis that will ultimately be everyone’s problems, people have a persistent ability to not think much about a problem if it’s not affecting them directly.

Our main character, Vesper (YA name alert!), lives on the outer ring where poverty and the ever-present threat of the storm is a very real hazard. Not only that, she comes from a family who were failed revolutionaries, leaving her and her father as wanted criminals. When her father is captured and Vesper travels to the inner ring of the city to save him, she is confronted with the harsh reality of just how out of touch the inner rings are. However, when she meets the prince, she must also confront the idea that in a world such as this, with a threat as large as the storm, sacrifice for the good of all at the expense of some is a very harsh, but very necessary, truth. It was nice to see Vesper have to adjust her own opinions of the world and how the storm is being fought; all too often, heroines such as this end up feeling like sparkly star people who, just by the nature of the story, are the all righteous beginning and ending. And while she brings to attention the plight of the poor, it’s nice to see that she, too, by the nature of her limited world, does not have a full picture of everything going on.

The romance itself was fine. I liked the interactions we had between Vesper and the prince, and the story took a definite turn in the final quarter that I hadn’t seen coming, so that was refreshing. However, I was glad of the other supporting characters who all formed their own unique relationships with Vesper, each helping her fully realize herself and her goals in different ways.

As I said, while there was a lot to like here, YA fantasy fans may find much of it familiar. For example, some of the reveals about the history of the world and the storm were fairly easy to predict (if not in all the details). The romance, too, felt like something I’ve read before, with both Vesper and the prince filling fairly familiar roles. That said, the writing was solid and I read this book quite quickly in only a few sit-downs. It’s always nice to see that there is new YA fantasy coming out that, while familiar, can still draw me in to appreciating the genre. YA fantasy fans should definitely check this one out; mileage may vary depending on how familiar one is with these tropes and themes.

Rating 8: Familiar but in a good way, exploring interesting themes of responsibility, self, and the fight for the betterment of people, both on the macro and micro level.
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