Book Reviews

Review: The Darkening by Sunya Mara

You know those book covers that kind of stop you in your tracks? That’s how I feel about The Darkening. This YA fantasy debut is perfect for fans of heroines who have to make difficult choices. Who have the fate of the world on their shoulders. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts!


Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries. Failed revolutionaries. When her mother was caught by the queen’s soldiers, they gave her a choice: death by the hangman’s axe, or death by the Storm that surrounds the city and curses anyone it touches. She chose the Storm. And when the queen’s soldiers—led by a paranoid prince—catch up to Vesper’s father after twelve years on the run, Vesper will do whatever it takes to save him from sharing that fate.

Even arm herself with her father’s book of dangerous experimental magic.

Even infiltrate the prince’s elite squad of soldier-sorcerers.

Even cheat her way into his cold heart.

But when Vesper learns that there’s more to the story of her mother’s death, she’ll have to make a choice if she wants to save her city: trust the devious prince with her family’s secrets, or follow her mother’s footsteps into the Storm.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

In some ways, The Darkening is about the way we see ourselves. Are we more than a daughter? More than the roles we inherited and inhabit? We are our own person. With our own lives and desires, what can we make of it? This theme for Vesper to explore is my favorite element of the book. Because it forces us to think about not only the expectations others have of us, but also that we have of ourselves. If she wants to save her father, she will have to grapple with both.

The action in The Darkening propels readers through a story of difficult choices. Of characters who are all trying to make change in a variety of ways and struggling to figure out who will actually succeed. What approach will finally be triumphant. Because when we see only our goals with a single minded approach, it becomes a question of sacrifice for our pride and our ambition.

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How will they confront their fears and ambitions, dreams and doubts? We can think we have what it takes to get what we want and we can be wrong. We can realize that nothing ever is that simple. While I had a bit of a lull in the middle, by the end I was fully committed again. The Darkening is unique and inventive. I loved the magical trials – and that ending – and can recommend for YA fantasy fans looking to start a new series. Find The Darkening on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


Who is your favorite morally grey heroine?

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