Book Review

Dark Rise

Dark Rise

  • Author: C.S. Pacat
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: September 28, 2021
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Series: Dark Rise #1

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: murder, death of a parent, grief, blood, violence, racism, torture, gore, trauma

The ancient world of magic is no more. Its heroes are dead, its halls are ruins, and its great battles between Light and Dark are forgotten. Only the Stewards remember, and they keep their centuries-long vigil, sworn to protect humanity if the Dark King ever returns.

Sixteen-year-old dock boy Will is on the run, pursued by the men who killed his mother. When an old servant tells him of his destiny to fight beside the Stewards, Will is ushered into a world of magic, where he must train to play a vital role in the oncoming battle against the Dark.

As London is threatened by the Dark King’s return, the reborn heroes and villains of a long-forgotten war begin to draw battle lines. But as the young descendants of Light and Dark step into their destined roles, old allegiances, old enmities and old flames are awakened. Will must stand with the last heroes of the Light to prevent the fate that destroyed their world from returning to destroy his own.

I had never heard of this book before, but when I was invited to join a buddy read with Becky @ Becky’s Book Blog and Susan @ Novel Lives, I couldn’t resist. I’ve done a bunch of buddy reads with Becky, but have only heard tales of her buddy reads with Susan and there was no way I was missing out on this opportunity. Especially since Susan was the one who recommended this book, having read it in the past, and also having given me a number of great suggestions.

It started out interestingly enough. There’s a mysterious-seeming prologue, and then we’re introduced to our main character. Will comes across as a typical fantasy character of the times—orphan toiling away at the London docks, but he’s on the run from a mysterious group of men who are responsible for killing his mother. He’s clearly pretty street-smart, but also in way over his head. 

We also meet another character, Violet, who is a girl who strives to be like her older brother, but faces some serious obstacles. She was brought from India to live with her father. While her brother treats her warmly, her father’s wife isn’t welcoming at all, viewing her as proof of his infidelity. But when Violet crosses paths with Will, her morals cross with her goals and the entire path of her life changes.

These two are set on a path where they enter a new reality; one where magic is real and Will might be the only hope to change the course of history and fight the Dark King, and Violet is dragged along for the ride. He’s shown into the Hall of the Stewards, and his training begins. But of course there are challenges along the way.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this book fast-paced and full of surprises. Unlike some YA fantasy that can be predictable, I was blindsided with so many plot twists that I never saw coming. It also has little to no romance in the story, although there is a lot of tension in certain parts and a major focus on friendships. This is the kind of book that I didn’t want to put down, and waiting for the discussion to occur so that I could get back to reading was actually painful! Fortunately, this group read as fast as I do, although I was the one holding them back due to stupid adult responsibilities, so we didn’t have to wait long to read this whole book. 

The major characters in this book were amazing. They were well-developed and the kind that I loved reading about, even the villains and jerks. I was able to watch them change over the course of the book, and they didn’t always play the role that I was expecting them to. This has definitely become one of the best books I’ve read recently, and although it’s dark, gritty, and clearly written by an author who likes to put the hearts of readers through the wringer, I’ll be recommending it to everyone and anyone I can. And that twist at the end has me dying for book 2 to come out immediately.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 31

11 replies »

  1. WOOO HOOO! Dark Heir comes out in December and what a ride it will be. Definitely a dark-heart reader book. Love this to bits. I’m so glad you loved it as much as I did.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember seeing this book cover a lot last year (I think that’s when it came out??) and put it on my TBR. But, honestly, haven’t yet picked it up because it’s YA. However, I’m sold now thanks to your review, particularly the bit about unpredictable plot twists and the little to no romance. The predictability of YA reads has turned me off from them lately as well as the romance…which is to be expected given I’m not the target audience, but I do like some YA (Folk of the Air trilogy, Castles in Their Bones, These Twisted Vows). Great review. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! And I’m so glad to have already encouraged you to pick this one up, since one of my favorite parts was how it isn’t exactly like so many other YA fantasy books lately. I hope you love it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant review, Leah! You summed up our buddy read thoughts so well, which is impressive considering how disjointed it was at times lol. Can’t wait for our buddy read of book two, especially now we have our crazy theories lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I absolutely loved our disjointed and enthusiastic buddy read and can’t wait to do it again. Book two can’t come fast enough so we can see which theories are right! I’m betting on yours 😂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.