Plot: Three friends have lived ordinary lives. At least, it is all they have ever known. But when one is taken for an infamous “teaching” – an event that leaves even the strongest souls broken – Orah, Nathaniel and Thomas know things are not simply black and white.
The sinister vicars lie, the darkness is not what it seems and this age of light cannot hide the shadows. With everything they know called into question, the three friends must discover the truth for themselves and their loved ones before the retribution becomes too great. But is the truth the greatest gift?
Quote: “The darkness is when a son hurts the father he loves, when friends are separated, and when those who care the most about each other raise their voices in anger.” Her expression hardened and her delicate features disappeared. “By that meaning, I swear the darkness will never return.”
Opinion: I had mixed thoughts the whole way through this book. As soon as I realised it was a dystopian America, my guard was up – young adults have done that setting too many times and not always successfully in recent years. However, it did not fall into the same pitfalls they did and there was never a moment where the book irritated me.
The plot felt like it had been done before. It was a classic coming of age story where each of the characters had to prove themselves. There was nothing too exciting or gripping about it. The secrets the keep held were disappointing compared to the magical elements of the rest of the book and there were several moments where I expected something more dramatic to happen.
The characters were likeable, but fairly average. Orah was portrayed to be the embodiment of friendship and loyalty, yet she was patronising and harsh towards Thomas at moments. Thomas seemed to be far younger than the other two despite being the same age. With the torment he went through, I felt he should have been more mature. Nathaniel felt like a rounded character though; his flaws weren’t annoying and his strengths were ones the reader could appreciate it.
The pace was slow. Especially towards the beginning of the book, not a lot seem to actually happen. Everything that did occur was world-building and nothing else. Although I wasn’t gripped, I never had any moment of wanting to put the book down because I was bored, so there were enough intriguing elements if nothing else that kept me reading on.
Personally, I feel some of the issues I had with this book was because it is aimed at a younger audience. They might not even notice the character flaws that were irritants to me. Despite my misgivings at several points, I finished the book through to the end and was content enough with the outcome to give it a good rating. The character development – especially Thomas – saved the book and inserted some enjoyable scenes towards the end.
A possible recommendation but with caution.