[A quick note: This was a buddy read! I am not sure I’d have picked it up any time soon otherwise. We bit off way more than we could chew, thinking we could read like 6 chapters a day. At first, that was okay, but several days in, with the long chapter lengths, I was only managing 1-2 a day. I definitely want to check out this author’s other series, The Captive Prince, which is what they’re known for.]
Will has been running for years, until the clash between light and dark traps him between a age old battle. The Stewards are dying, and if Will cannot become the beacon they need, the Dark King will rise and the world will fall into shadow.
In hindsight, the title fits this story perfectly. Dark Rise is about the rise of an anti-hero, a harbinger of darkness. It only took an entire book to figure this out. Doh!! But once you do, you’re shocked! Why??? Because THAT ENDING!!!
This is set in historical London, in a world where magic is hidden, and one faction stands between the entire ruin of the world. The plot and characters are diverse! And while this felt closer to a middle grade story, it was a dense read. It wasn’t something I powered through. I had to take it in small bites. In fact, the first 80% felt a little slow, and the last 20% was WOW. Despite that, there’s plenty that happens throughout the story. What I enjoyed the most, was the intrigue. It wasn’t until the very end of the book, that I was able to appreciate how the author constructed the story. In fact, the final 50 pages were a huge shock.
Like, HUGE OMFG HOLY CRAP I WAS NOT EXPECTING THAT kind of shock.
Will is at the center of a battle between good and evil, and he discovers so much about his purpose. The shocking reveal at the end is centered around him. As he discovered his place in the world, everything gets flipped upside down. I was super pleased with how the book turned out, and in fact, gave it an extra 1/2 star because of it.
As for the world building? I liked it!! Stories set in London are MY CUP OF TEA, y’all! It’s set in a historical *version* of London. Magic existed long ago, and after all the great battles ended, only the Stewards remain. They’re the good guys (supposedly…dun dun dun), and you learn all about their existence alongside Will. Their purpose is to fight off the return of the Dark King. There’s plenty of history around this, woven into the known history of the world.
Okay, the characters? Will and Violet become unlikely friends, despite being on opposite sides of an age old battle between good and evil. I LOVE this trope. Two people on opposite sides, enemies, technically, teaming up? Heck yes!!! As for Will’s character? He felt a little dry for a lot of the book. Violet felt like a stronger character. And then…there was James. I was super intrigued by James. I can’t WAIT to see Will and James together in the second book because….let’s face it…it’s going to happen.
In terms of negatives? There were certain aspects that were glossed over. Like the magic Will has to learn, or how the Stewards train. There were also parts that felt a little juvenile, which is why this felt more like a middle grade story. And lastly, there were parts that were wayyyy too LOTR, like, parts that almost felt ripped off from LOTR. One scene, specifically, felt like a direct knock off of when Gandalf rides out from Minas Tirith using white light from his staff to chase off the Nazgûl???? I mean, literally the same scene in this book, except instead of Gandalf, it was the Stewards…I actually snorted and rolled my eyes and said, OMG are you serious right now?!? But fortunately, there weren’t a ton of additional scenes like that, which was a relief!
I’ll close with this: If the last 50 pages had NOT happened as they did, I wouldn’t be interested in the second book. Instead? I’m EAGER for it. Knowing how things end, it would be fun to reread it and see all the little things I missed, and didn’t pick up on.
𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟒.𝟓/𝟓⭐️