So, in the spirit of returning to my roots, I’m going back to what began this lovely little blog journey in the first place. Now, I’ve recently dug myself out of the rut of rereading my comfort books and ventured into new territory, courtesy of a Black Friday trip to BooksaMillion last year. With this comes the subject of today’s review, Dark Rise by C. S. Pacat.
It’s no secret that I’m a sucker from fantasy, from Harry Potter, to Chronicles of Narnia, to Simon Snow, I’ve definitely wracked up quite the fantasy tab. However, I’ve never encountered a franchise that captures that sense of “Old, forgotten world” quite as well as Dark Rise does. There’s just something about the way that this franchise showcases a world that no longer exists that is impossible not to love.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, a review of the basic story. Will Kempen is on the run from men who killed his mother months ago. As the sixteen year old evades Simon Crenshaw, a wealthy aristocratic trade monarch, he encounters the Stewards, in particular a man named Justice. It’s discovered that his mother’s death and his life are entangled in an ancient lore involving a Dark King who’s on the rise, a Lady who is the only one who can stop him, and the Stewards, rigidly disciplined keepers of the old world’s history and fighters of the light. As he meets Violet, a girl with formidable Lion’s strength and Katherine, an aristocratic daughter with a fear of magic, Will’s life becomes more and more fantastical, and more and more dangerous.
Now, I’ll not spoil anything because I highly recommend this book to anyone with even an inkling of fantasy interest. However, I will discuss the things about this book that really stuck with me; statements of meaning, if you will. First and foremost is the richness of the writing. This may come from the startlingly easily comprehensible setting of London in the 1820’s, the well developed characters spanning from “Knight from the past” to “aristocratic lady of the manner”, the substantial quality of the plot (seriously, I’ve scarcely seen a plot this well developed) to the general sense of majesty that accompanies all the settings of this book. Regardless, this book is so intricately written it makes most super popular franchises pale in comparison.
The other thing I love about this book is James. You’ll understand if you read it.
My absolute favorite thing about this novel, however, is the way Pacat writes intimate moments. There’s not a single scene of sexuality in this books pages, and there is scarcely a scene of romance, as is expected of a book set in London 1821. However, there are so many moments, between so many characters that have an inexplicable sense of intimacy about them; the tying of an ascot, the escorting of a lady home, the release of a prisoner from manacles. All of them are amazing. Beyond all the plot twists and epic battles, the thing that really captured my heart was the way this novel shows intimacy. It’s so pure and unfiltered that it almost aches on the page, and I’ve never seen that and now will never forget it.
All in all, this book was fantastic. 10/10 read that I will strongly recommend to absolutely anyone that will listen and will also provide me with inspiration for my own forthcoming fantasy endeavors. Please, at least consider reading this phenomenal story, I assure you every word is worth it. Until next time,
Sincerely, someone who’s constructing his own “Old World”