FICTION

Dark Rise

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. (Dark Rise: Bk. 1). Sept. 2021. 464p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062946140.
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Gr 9 Up–In this breakneck historical fantasy, Will is on the run after his mother is murdered in their home. He hides himself working the London docks, a plan that only holds for so long before he’s kidnapped to be delivered to a mysterious man named Simon. Violet, a white and Indian girl who desperately wants to make a place for herself in Simon’s inner circle, finds herself guarding the hold where Will is being locked away. As the world of the Stewards of Light and the Dark King’s Lions are slowly revealed, Will and Violet will have to reckon with their place in a story centuries in the making. The Dark King promised he would return one day, and little do the Stewards know that his followers have that resurrection well underway—all they need is a sacrifice. While the worldbuilding is not the most inventive, it is organically grown, easy to follow, and populated with wonderfully three-dimensional characters. The shifting points of view and plot twists help maintain the novel’s breakneck pace, but also means many relationships and reveals happen off-page. Pacat’s writing paints an immersive 1821 London, but characters are her greatest strength. Will is white and bisexual, with both girl and boy love interests; his romance will have readers eagerly awaiting the sequel.
VERDICT Good versus evil is the bread and butter of the fantasy genre, and this one is a great recommendation for anyone who enjoyed Cassandra Clare’s historical Shadowhunters.

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