Paul was kind enough to post an ARC to me, and to sign it, too. 🙂 Rise of the Darklings was released in September, so my review is a bit late. Anyway, let’s dive in, shall we?
Rise of the Darklings tells the story of Emily Snow and how she becomes involved in a war that she had no idea was being fought. Here’s the blurb:
Emily Snow is twelve years old, supporting herself and her younger brother on the streets of Victorian England by selling watercress. One early winter morning on her way to buy supplies, she encounters a piskie–a small but very sarcastic fey creature that has been cornered by a group of the Black Sidhe, piskies from an opposing clan. She rescues him and unknowingly becomes involved in a war between the Seelie and the Unseelie, two opposing factions of fairies that have been battling each other throughout the long centuries of human history, with London–and England itself–as the ultimate prize.
When the Invisible Order–a centuries-old secret society of humans that has protected mankind from the fey’s interference–gets involved, things really start to get complicated.
Now she is the central figure in this ancient war that could permanently change Earth. With no one to trust, Emily must rely on her own instincts and guile to make the right choices that could save her family and all of mankind.
Emily is introduced in the first chapter, and right from the get-go she held my attention: Emily and her brother don’t live in the best of circumstances and Emily does all that she can to make sure that they have food to eat and a roof over their heads; she impressed me with her strength and resolve, and that strength gives her all that she needs to face the many threats and situations that come up in the novel. She didn’t once come across as overbearing, too intelligent, or whiney, and I’m pretty sure that plenty of young readers out there will fall in love with Emily and her honest and forthright personality. 🙂
There are plenty of other characters in the novel (and one major surprise that was well-portrayed and fit perfectly into the story), such as Emily’s brother, William, Jack (on the cover with Emily), and a host of non-human characters; I most enjoyed Corrigan – his personality could fill a warehouse, he’s brave and dedicated, and he also had me chuckling quite merrily along in places; his interaction with Jack, specifically was thoroughly entertaining. 🙂
In terms of the story, Paul weaves and misdirects like a master. At one point I thought I had it all figured out, only to be proven -pleasantly- wrong, and it was clear to me that Paul did plenty of research for this series -creatures from myths and legends abound in the novel, and some of them creeped me out (well-written and described, wouldn’t wanna meet them in a dark alleyway, that’s for sure!) but all of them were interesting, so much so that I really hope to see more of them in Book 2. 🙂
I’m pretty damned impressed with Paul for managing to paint a gloomy, oppressive London that still manages to be colourful and memorable, too, and I’ve got high hopes for the London we’ll be visiting in Book 2!
Now, I’m a guy who usually reads Epic Fantasy and SF, and I also dabble in Horror and Urban Fantasy; the kinds of subjects and themes dealt with are adult in nature, and since I’ve been getting into YA fiction more and more I’ve been impressed with the way that authors manage to include themes and subjects that can still resonate with older readers. Paul is no exception, and I got an almost Pixar-impression of the novel – Hear me out! When you watch a Pixar movie, there’re writing and dialogue and scenes that kids go nuts about and the same kind of stuff that adults laugh at but for different reasons. This is the kind of thing that I felt Paul pulled off wonderfully here and I’m sure that older readers will be as entertained as younger readers. 🙂
The resolutions at the end of the novel -and some throughout the novel, in fact- point to a large story unfolding, especially when taking into account what a certain character says, and I’m really looking forward to what’s in store for us in Book 2 – The Fire King. 🙂
All in all, Rise of the Darklings was thoroughly entertaining, fast-paced and memorable, with wonderful characters, thrilling action and weird and wonderful creatures; I highly recommend this!
9 / 10
To find out more about Paul and his work (he’s from Scotland but lives here in South Africa, by the way!), head on over to his website; to order your copies of Rise of the Darklings, click here for Amazon US and here for Amazon UK; it looks like the book might be available in South Africa soon, too, but I’ll have that info for you when it comes to me. 🙂
Have a wonderful weekend, and