Cover Image: The Darkening

The Darkening

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Member Reviews

Going into this one I was so excited and relieved that it started with a bang and was so interesting. If only it stayed that way.
The mid to end of what I thought was going to be a good for once YA fantasy was slightly boring and contained beauty every dreaded trope I was hoping it would avoid.

The idea of a storm while not in itself very original was something a bit different from recent years fantasy stories. Now, i just wish we got more. More of an explanation of why and how the storm came to be and also I was very disappointed that these dope ass storm monsters we saw once or twice weren't more in the story. Or explained very well.

The characters were my favorite part. I loved the dynamic between the 3 guys and our mc who had a different type of friendship with each guy. I just wish it wasn't so instalovey and I feel like one character didn't get the ending they deserved. Also, we were introduced to these bad ass rebel type group of people early on in the story and that was it
They were never mentioned again? Nada.
And what was the whole random storyline with the weapons being given and then nothing really happening.

That's my sum of the book. Nothing really happens. We have this Regia person who clearly needs to be taken from power and a group of people willing to do that who end up going into the storm to make it happen and then we have this father to our mc who is super important and gets captured but it gets sorta confusing and weird because that takes a ride on the backburner. Idk I felt confused by how everything was just happening like maybe my early copy is missing some parts to make it flow more so I'll definitely be checking it to the finished copy.

Everything just happened to easily 😕

But I enjoyed the world and the idea of the wardana and the rune magic.
I also liked the writing of the author so I'll check out more from them.

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Thank you Clarion Books and NetGalley for the arc of The Darkening by Sunya Mara in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Vesper Vale is the daughter of failed revolutionaries, having lost her mother she lives in the farthest edge of a city trapped in the eye of a cursed storm with her father. Vesper feels like a failure, not living up to the ghost of her mother’s memory and her father’s skill as a magical ikonocaster, but after her father is captured she steels herself to save her captured father from the prince and his soldiers.

I absolutely loved the world-building in this book, I could vividly see the rings of the city, the underground tunnels, the fearsome and all dominating darkness of the storm, all of which added to the multi dimensional feel of the story and pulled me into reading it, not wanting to be pulled away. The magic system was also well explained and the images of magical symbols was both interesting and understandable within the context of the book.

Vesper as a main protagonist is totally likeable, independent, determined, flawed and unwilling to follow blindly. Plus all her encounters with Dalca are so well captured…all the awkwardness and internal conflict are just perfect.

The romance between Vesper and Dalca was delivered at just the right level, supporting and aiding in developing the main plot, and all the morally grey facets were clear to see. Add in great supporting characters like Iz and Cas, who are so damned human, fallible and it was easy to empathise with them. I suspect like many readers of the book, one of my favourite quotes is:

"To do the one good thing that I must do, I find myself caught in a thousand small evils."

If you’re looking for a book that delivers a great read, a well thought out magic system, clear and well designed world-building and great characters, definitely pick up this book. I did, and I can’t wait for the next book to see what happens!

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EXCERPT: “The Darkening is a thrilling debut novel from Sunya Mara, a young adult fantasy that falls in the footsteps of books like The Hunger Games and City of Bones. Although it doesn’t fully distinguish itself from similar books in a way that would advance its premise, The Darkening does achieve a similar impact nonetheless — one that leaves readers with anticipation for what happens next.”

Full review published online at Asia Pacific Arts Magazine.

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A big thank to NetGalley and Clarion Books for gifting me an eARC in exchange for honest review.

The Darkening by Sunya Mara is a YA fantasy that follows the tumultuous life of Vesper, as she lives in a city slowly being decimated by a horrific storm. While her and her father hid away from the ruling family, in a lonely part of the city. But everything is turned on it's head. when Vesper's father is arrested and she makes the decision to steal his book of experimental magic and join the the solider-sorcerers. All while slowly falling in love with the devious prince.

This book is whirlwind of action and mystery. In the not to good way. In fact, it became too much that sometimes what was provided was not enough. The plot was a little lackluster, and the characters were just okay. While the world building was cool. It just didn't have enough of the right stuff for me.

I came for the enemies to love, but left feeling a little more confused than necessary.

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For me this one was just ok. I really wanted to love this book and, objectively, it has all the things I love in a fantasy. But, sadly, I just struggled to connect with this one. I loved the premise, themes, and tropes so I felt like it was something I could really get into. I did not have a terrible experience, but I also didn’t have the most engaging one either. I think it deserves a solid three stars, as I feel like there will be a bell curve of readers who fall equally on either sides of this rating.

The worldbuilding, society structure, and magic systems were all a little confusing to me for the first quarter of the book. I had a difficult time visualizing and conceptualizing the events that were taking place, which left me a little emotionally bereft when it came to the characters.

It also felt really predictable, textbook ya fantasy formula, and I think that also detracted from the enjoyment for me as well. Not much is fresh in this one. For example, I like the Hunger Games style class divides, but we've seen it before. With this lack of connection, I failed to truly immerse into the motivations that should have swept me away into the story. Even the love interest was predictably generic, a royal who doesn’t fit in.
A lot of the characters felt surface level to me because of the stereotypes they molded to. I didn’t feel any depths of emotions.

It wasn't that anything was truly bad in my experience of the story, it's not even that I disliked anything in particular, but it just failed to captivate me in the way I would love from a story. Although not the most enchanting read for me, it is still a decent debut.

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The promise of an exciting intrigue and revolutionaries, the execution took a turn I didn't expect. Cool magic system but the second half of the book lost its charm

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I chose to read this book based solely off of the description, and I was not disappointed. The world of The Darkening felt very well-planned out; I loved the idea of a giant storm slowly consuming a city. The characters were complex and made choices that really felt true to their characters. The plot also didn’t pull any punches; there were times that I genuinely couldn’t believe that the story went there.
There was one point a little over halfway through that I considered taking a break from reading, but the pace picked up pretty quickly not long after that and I finished the book in one sitting.
A great and fascinating debut! I’ll definitely be reading the second book.

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The Darkening by Sunya Mara

★★★★★

Phenomenal. Easily my favourite read of 2022 so far!

In The Darkening, we're introduced to our main character, Vesper, as she goes through a turbulent journey from being a fifth-ringer helping people cursed by The Storm to being her worlds salvation.

Vesper lives in the fifth ring of her seven ringed city. As days goes by the ever looming storm, that has consumed the seventh and sixth rings already, draws closer to taking over Vesper's home and the fifth ring. Her father, a previous rebellion leader in hiding, has been discovered and captured, and Vesper makes it her mission to free him.

On Vesper's journey to save her father, we meet Cas, Iz and Prince Dalca. We find an ally in one who we wouldn't have guessed, a lover in someone we shouldn't have and friendship that we hope will survive.

I found the world building to be quite enjoyable and the book to be well written.

I can't wait to see what happens next (and maybe see Iz again too).



ARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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There are some books that you wish you could read it for the first time, it is one of those for me. Because wow, I felt myself immersed in this plot and amazed by the astounding characters and word building. I can’t enough for it to be out. And to know what happens next in the upcoming instalment!!

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I am a bit torn by this book. I really enjoyed it at times but didn't at others and I can't really pinpoint the reason.
The imagery and world building were good throughout and I liked most of the characters as well as the relationships between them.
I will definitely be reading the sequel and I do think the ending was set up well to leave you wanting to know what happens next.

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A YA debut for this author and a great book to kick it off with, the magical systems in this book are complex to say the least and its not like the usual point and say a word magic system its more drawing in the air kind of system. The world building is effortless in this book and i mean that in a good way as it help build the storyline of the book instead of been an information dump like some book can be.
the characters are very much out for themselves but with how the story line goes they grow in a natural way and so they draw you in and the ending leaves you wanting so much more of this series.

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I enjoyed this book but didn't find it particularly unique. The story was interested and I loved the imagery of this world in which symbols are power. That being said, the storyline was somewhat predictable and the romance was confusing (I couldn't figure out why the main character would have this love interest). Fun read nonetheless. I would have heartily devoured it as a teen.

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Really struggled getting into this one. Not sure if it was the actual story or the characters but this one did not capture my interest. Main protagonist is the daughter of two failed revolutionaries and lives a life in hiding. A raging magical storm surrounds her city but may be the key to her survival. Felt a bit like Shadow & Bone at times, which is a series I really loved. Hoping the next book picks up a little more.

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I loved the twisty darkness of this book, and the way that things always unfolded a little bit different than I expected. This applied equally to the character development, as each layer was peeled back to show something slightly different underneath. The magical system is unique, even as the dystopian nature of the novel may feel familiar. I am excited to see how each of the characters continues to grow in the second book, as they face what lies ahead.

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Vesper Vale is the daughter of two revolutionaries that failed. She lives within a city that is surrounded by a storm that get ever closer to taking the whole city. I loved the unique story, magic system, and mythology. I need the next book.

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The storm is darkness and it’s swallowing up everything it touches. Only the Wardana can keep it back by using ikonomancy to fight it.

Vesper Vale is the 17 year old daughter of revolutionaries. Her father, Alcanar was one of the best Wardanas until he and her mother tried to overthrow the Regia. Her mother was sent into the storm but Vesper and her father escaped. They have been living with Amma, who runs a home for the cursed (the storm touched.).

When her father is captured, Vesper wants to free him. She soon works to befriend Dalca, the son of the Regia, Casvian and Izamal - a storm touched Wardana who is trying to help the people in the fifth. Will Vesper be able to save her father? Can she stop the storm?

This is my first book by this author. It was good and the author set the scene for a sequel. I look forward to reading it.

Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I struggled with The Darkening. I can see a very particular, detail oriented person being into this novel; I am not that type of person. I feel like the premise has great promise and there are some really fascinating passages of imagery, but the exposition weighed down the beginning.

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Easily the best book I've read on NetGalley in 2021 - loved the characters, the world-building, the presence that this craftily constructed world claims.

This is one of those books I want to buy in paperback after reading it digitally, just to have and love.

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I received this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I love a good magical world and this one has fascinating premises. It did get a little confusing/not as thought at closer to the end of the book. Vesper is an interesting protagonist and the world building has subtle South Asian nods. A good read overall!

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This was an enticing debut from Sunya Mara! I enjoyed this high-stakes fantasy mixed with political intrigue, alluring magic, and romance. The South Asian influences, although not as prominent as other South Asian fantasies, were also super cool to follow along with. I liked following Vesper on her mission to rescue her father from the clutches of the Wardana by posing as a third-year apprentice. This trope of the MC sneaking into the castle undercover to learn of the courts' secrets is not new in YA Fantasy, but it was still interesting to read about. I also really liked each of Vesper's dynamics with Dalca, Iz, and Cas and how some bonds grew (while others didn't) as the story progressed. The action sequences were also written in a very visceral manner and I found myself holding my breath any time Vesper or her father were in danger.

I think where the story fell short for me is that the lore and magic system in the novel got really convoluted towards the middle to end of the novel. I had a hard time following along with the secrets that were being revealed about the origin of the Wardana and Vesper's mother's relation to it all. The last third of the novel felt really muddled to me and also much more fast paced compared to the first two-thirds of the novel. There were a lot of character choices that surprised me/felt slightly OOC for a character considering how they were acting in the first half of the novel, so I was unsure about that as well.

Overall, if you're looking for a fantasy thriller with a few South Asian influences, I suggest picking up The Darkening! I'd give this 3.75 stars total.

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