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What: Dark Rise (Dark Rise #1) by C.S. Pacat

Who: Allen and Unwin

When: September 28th 2021

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Allen and Unwin for review.

RRP: $19.99 (AUD)

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 can without hesitation say that Dark Rise was my most anticipated title of 2021. I was so excited to see one of my favourite authors branch into YA, which is my favourite range of books to read in. Many thanks to Allen and Unwin for gifting me an early copy so that I can post about it on release day!

Dark Rise pays homage to the chosen one fantasy titles in the vein of Lord of the Rings and other stories that feature epic battles between light and dark, and the young men chosen to end them once and for all. For someone who hasn’t actually read many chosen one/battle between light and dark novels, Dark Rise still felt so familiar in these aspects. However, where those novels were overwhelmingly white and non-queer, Dark Rise, features a queer hero, Will, and a British-Indian heroine, Violet (who may also be queer, there were some hints).

Though the blurb only talks about Will, there are two other narrators in Dark Rise. The second is Violet, who has almost as many POV chapters as Will, and the third is Katherine, who had a smattering of chapters here and there. I was glad that I knew beforehand that Will wasn’t the only narrator because I can sometimes get thrown when a character is suddenly narrating even though there was no mention of them in the blurb. So I’m mentioning it for people like me, who like to know when there’s more than one POV!

A lot of Dark Rise focuses on Will and Violet joining Team Light, otherwise known as the Stewards, who live in a centuries-old crumbling castle protected by magic. The way Pacat described this sanctuary was so vivid that I can conjure up an image of it in my head immediately. In fact, the descriptions of everything in this novel were so vivid and lifelike that it was almost like watching a movie in my head. I’m not a super visual reader, it’s usually a vague idea in my head, but there was no room for vagueness with these lush descriptions.

If you’re going into Dark Rise expecting a fantasy romance, you will be disappointed. Dark Rise has little to no romance at all, and is far more focussed on friendships, found family, mentors and mentees, and the upcoming battle for the world. Even though I love a good romantic storyline, I found I wasn’t left wishing there had been more. I think with everything going on, and the constant revelations the characters were facing, romance would have felt out of place. There were hints for a romantic relationship that could take place in future novels, though, and I’ll be interested to see where it goes.

Overall, I don’t want to say too much about Dark Rise because I think part of my great experience with the novel was because I hadn’t seen any reviews that gave away too much. So I don’t want to be one of those reviews for another potential reader. I think I have covered the most important things: a bisexual hero, a heroine of colour, old school fantasy, incredible world building, and the range of important different and relationships between the characters. I cannot wait for book two.

© 2021, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning

war themes, multiple murders, blood and gore, death of friends, death of family members, child abuse, animal death, false imprisonment, physical assault, reference to possible sexual assault/rape (character controlled by magical item)

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Posted on: September 28, 2021 • By: Chiara

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