ARC Review: THE DARKENING by Sunya Mara

I received an ARC of the book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. it has not affected my opinions.

Title in white on purple close up of a girl with long hair
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - first book


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.

Even arm herself with her father’s book of dangerous experimental magic. Even infiltrate the prince’s elite squad of soldier-sorcerers. Even cheat her way into his cold heart.

But when Vesper learns that there’s more to the story of her mother’s death, she’ll have to make a choice if she wants to save her city: trust the devious prince with her family’s secrets, or follow her mother’s footsteps into the Storm.

Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


THE DARKENING begins a duology about how far you’ll go to save those you love when a city is at risk.

The world premise in this book is so good – it was the thing that drew me to the book in the first place. There is a storm gradually encroaching on the city, devouring the outer rings and putting ones nearby into darkness. Naturally, the rich are in the inner city in the sun, and the poor are in the dark on the outskirts.

Not only does the set up create a power imbalance for Vesper to fight against, but it gives everyone a reason to fight the story – though their motivations are different. Except it’s not that simple, as Vesper and Dalca both want to save their parents, which means both have to decide if they want to save the city of their loved ones.

The pacing was very good. I read this book in short bursts in and around transport connections, and despite all those interruptions, I was not able to keep following but wanted to keep reading. Vesper’s attempts to help keep backfiring, and that sequence of action, consequences, reaction creates a compelling tale.

Also being absolutely out of your depth but still trying makes Vesper a really root-able character. All that determination! You can’t help but want that to be rewarded with a glimmer of success.

The ending follows the “literally everything goes wrong” but this time worse than I could have guessed. I want to know what happens next – and how it’s going to be fixed (given Vesper’s best intentions haven’t had a great track record of success!)

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