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.
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!
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.
Beautifully written and gripping start of a new series. Loved the magic and the richly developed characters in this one.
*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.
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!
The Darkening, by Sunya Mara
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.
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.
***Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.***
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.
Thank you to Netgalley for a copy in return for an honest review.
As I'm sure you know, this is a flooded genre and it takes a lot to stand out, and it's hard to find an new take on the fantasy dystopia idea. And this book does manage that. The idea of the storm and the monsters is really intriguing and I actually wish that this was developed more in the book. The characters are a little less stand out. The prince is similar to other royal characters except that I really didn't fall for him. I wanted to feel what Vesper felt. I wanted to be intrigued and invested, but I wasn't. He was, I'm afraid, a little flat. Vesper herself is again, not particularly stand out. She has the foundations to be a good character but she is just a bit flat too. Her Dad was interesting, though again, I'd have liked to know more about him, maybe that comes later. I was probably most intrigued by Iz so I hope he makes a reappearance in the future books.
In terms of plot, it was pretty simple in that Vesper goes undercover to rescue her dad, but there were more complex details which weren't really explained and I think that was a mistake. The world building was literally the bare essentials. The origin of the storm is hinted at but never developed and the monsters, which could be oh so great, seem more like a side note. The trials were the most exciting part and again, this should have been developed. One thing I did have issue with was that Vesper learns the ancient art of iconmancy in what a couple hours, and yet according to her she had struggled just to grow a plant before. I kind of feel like if she was that good, she would have learnt more before all this kicked off.
So, will I read the next book, yes of course. Will I be counting the days off on the calendar, no. There was just something missing. Something to make this stand out in an overcrowded market. It had all the right ingredients, but I guess that was the problem. It felt a little bit like a tick sheet with each ingredient added but nothing secret or magical.
A really good read! I enjoyed the premise and how fast paced it was!
Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an arc for an honest review!
This was a bit of a mixed bag for me, with some really interesting concepts and moments that I thought got a bit weighed down at times. I enjoyed the notion of the storm-touched and I also thought that the icon rules for the magic system was really interesting. Unfortunately, I found the characters and their interactions a bit lackluster and not very well fleshed out, although I did find the relationship between Vesper and her father fascinating. Overall, this was a solid and enjoyable read, but I don't think I'll continue in the series.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
This book grabbed me from the first word. I absolutly adored both the writing and the world building! It has been one of my top reads this year to date
To save her father, a former revolutionary, from execution for use of magic, Vesper infiltrates the royal family and gets close to the prince by acting as an apprentice. In doing so, she discovers that things aren’t as black and white as she had believed and that everyone has secrets.
I enjoyed this book. The plot moved along quickly and there were some interesting surprises every now and then. There was a bit of romance, but that was not the focus of the story. In the end, the story is set up nicely for sequel.
I read an ARC of this book.
Talk about eye candy of a cover. The Darkening has a very interesting synopsis. Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries. Failed revolutionaries. When her mother was caught by the queen’s soldiers, they gave her a choice: death by the hangman’s axe, or death by the Storm that surrounds the city and curses anyone it touches. She chose the Storm. And when the queen’s soldiers—led by a paranoid prince—catch up to Vesper’s father after twelve years on the run, Vesper will do whatever it takes to save him from sharing that fate. There is interesting magic and a world be devoured by a Storm. In my opinion this was just okay, it really took me a while to get into this book and I almost dnf'ed it. I am glad I kept going because it did get better but so much of it was just the same thoughts over and over again. This is the first in a series and I'm not sure if I want to read the second but probably will with the hopes it gets better. 2.5 stars
This fantasy was gripping. The ending is sad but gives hope for a sequel. There were so many things I loved about this. The main character is relatable, and the hope for good in all things is inspiring. I do struggle with how her mother fits into the story. She is supposedly almost the leader of this world. Her background and how she nearly earns this title will hopefully be explained in a sequel.
The Darkening is a fast-paced epic YA fantasy debut. The characters are compelling. The world-building is outstanding. This is a book that will make readers feel. Highly recommended! Be sure to check out The Darkening today.
In her city, the Storm threatens Vesper Vale and her father, who has been on the run for 12 years because of his Ikonmancy (magical abilities). When Vesper’s father is taken, Vesper infiltrates the upper ring and becomes an assistant to the very people holding her father in an attempt to set him free. Will Vesper get the answers she has always sought? Or the Storm take over?
I thought The Darkening was a strong debut. It gave me vibes similar to Shadow and Bone, in that it is a very YA book, but the story and characters were interesting enough that I wanted to see what happened. There were a few things I thought could be more refined with the writing, but I would read a sequel to this book to see how the characters and world has grown. If you liked Shadow and Bone, I think you would like The Darkening.
Thank you to NetGalley and HCC Frenzy for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!
An interesting premise for a YA novel, reminds me of a classic 2012 YA book.
I did have some problems with it though, the pacing was a little slow and I would have liked the characters to interact more.