The Darkening

Clarion. Jul. 2022. 400p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780358561989.
Gr 9 Up–In a world cursed with a deadly storm, Vesper Vale lives with her father in a home caring for storm-touched people. Vesper’s mother was executed for being a traitor to the kingdom, and her father has hidden his identity for many years to avoid the same fate. When Vesper’s choices lead soldiers right to their door, her father’s identity is eventually revealed, so Vesper must sneak her way into the prince’s group of elite soldiers. She doesn’t expect to fall for Prince Dalca, who is a typical royalty character destined for responsibility but kinder than others around him. The story has many unique points. The storm is essentially a character itself, used as a villain, leading to some intense scenes. Also, the magic used is different and exciting. Even so, this story follows certain tropes: there is a class system, and people belong to other rings, with the higher rings more in danger of the storm. There is also an unlikely hero trying to save her loved one. Adding the enemies-to-lovers spin creates a predictable story. Younger teens may enjoy it, but the length may turn off potential readers.
VERDICT Despite the predictable plot and slow beginning, this is a fun story and librarians with teens interested in fantasy and innocent romance will find takers for it.

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