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I Belong


Review: A New Darkness by Joseph Delaney

A New DarknessTitleA New Darkness

AuthorJoseph Delaney

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: The Starblade Chronicles (Book #1)

Publication Date: September 2, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 340 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062334530 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062334534 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin

Synopsis:

The first book in a chilling new trilogy from the author of the internationally bestselling Last Apprentice series! Tom Ward is an apprentice no longer—he is a full-fledged spook battling boggarts, witches, and other creatures of the dark. A New Darkness is the first in a three-book arc that introduces brand-new readers to Joseph Delaney’s haunting world.

Tom Ward is the Spook, the one person who can defend the county from bloodthirsty creatures of the dark. But he’s only seventeen, and his apprenticeship was cut short when his master died in battle. No one trusts Tom’s skill, not until he’s proven himself. And a fifteen-year-old girl named Jenny knows more about the three mysterious deaths in the county than Tom does. She is a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, and she wants to be Tom’s first apprentice—even though a female spook is unheard of. Together, Tom and Jenny will uncover the grave danger heading straight toward the county, and they’ll team up with a witch assassin to confront it.

Quick & Dirty: A simple, easy read with admittedly cookie-cutter characters. I didn’t read the first series in this world, but there was enough summarizing for me to understand.

Opening Sentence: There was a cold draft coming from somewhere; maybe that was making the candle flicker, casting strange shadows onto the wall at the foot of the bed.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Tom Ward is one of the County’s newest Spooks. After his master was killed in a fearsome battle, he was forced to fall into one of the most dangerous roles one can undertake in. He deals with ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, and witches — everything that goes bump in the night. The job isn’t easy, but it must be done. It seems trouble is brewing beyond his homeland, though, trouble that will eventually rock the peace he has worked so hard to produce. With the help of a new apprentice, a girl named Jenny who is the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter, something unheard of, he will face a new, worse battle than ever before. Something is coming, an enemy the likes of which even Tom Ward has never faced…

This novel is the beginning of a companion series of sorts to the original books about the county Spooks. Was it confusing for me to delve into a book where all the world-building was completed in the last series? Well, at times. Something the author did well was recalling everything that happened in previous stories, though make no mistake, it was sometimes hard for me to sink into feelings about certain characters when all I got was recollections of memories. Like Tom’s old master. Tom missed him gravely, and often thought about him. But no matter how many times he thought about his bravery or how wise he had been, I never felt any remorse, because I never got to interact with the character as a reader. If one has already read the author’s first (pretty popular, from what I’ve heard) series, they will probably feel more connected to Tom’s pain and other emotions. I mean, I understood what had gone down, but I didn’t feel much about it. It was a lot of telling instead of showing — “I missed him.” “I was sad.”

As far as the characters go, I respected them and understood them, but I didn’t connect. A lot of that has to do with them blabbering on about memories from the past that I didn’t get to read about, but just got a quick plot summary of. The story was narrated by two characters, both of whom I found myself liking. They had very similar minds, which was somewhat offsetting considering Jenny’s bright and snarky personality was so different from Tom’s. It wasn’t hard for me to sink into their personalities, however, the writing style was simple and flowed easily. I wish that there had been a chapter or two from Grimilakin the witch’s standpoint. Now that would have been an interesting twist to see how her brain worked. She was the most intriguing of all the characters, even the main ones, whom were sorta boring.

The story felt really short. That might be because there wasn’t a bunch of little action-packed events — rather, all the events were part of a carefully orchestrated larger plotline. It was clear that there are going to be a few more books before this larger conflict resolves itself, especially after a certain cliffhanger at the end and a couple myths that seemed to be coming true. For the most part I liked that, how everything was pretty clear, though the story might have used some complexity to add interest. Sometimes stuff felt super convenient, like people coming or things happening exactly when they were needed.

I’ll be honest. I’ve been putting off reading A New Darkness for awhile. I was freaked out that it was a companion series, considering all that I had missed and the whole world that had been built up in another series. I think that if I had read the first series I may have enjoyed myself more in this one, with the world-building more rich and the character development clearer. Tom Ward had developed in the last series so that there’s not much developing left for him to do. I think mainly that job is for Jenny, now. Altogether, I thought the book was a pretty easy read with a simple enough plotline and admittedly cookie-cutter characters. I would definitely encourage lovers of the last books to give it a try!

Notable Scene:

“Listen, I’d better tell you what’s up so that you won’t get your hopes up. To become a spook’s apprentice you have to be a seventh son of a seventh son. That gives you some immunity against witches and enables you to see the dead and talk to them. That’s the basic qualification. I might as well be blunt. You’re a girl, and you don’t qualify.”

“I’m the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter,” she said. “And I can see the dead. Sometimes they talk to me.”

I turned and looked back at her- a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter with those powers . . . ? I’d never heard of such a thing.

“I’m sure you can,” I replied. “But I just don’t need an apprentice. Have I made myself clear?”

The Starblade Chronicles:

1. A New Darkness

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FTC Advisory: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of A New Darkness. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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