There Will Come a Darkness is an ambitious epic fantasy debut with fantastic world-building and a cast of fully realized characters you can’t help but love. This book is action-packed and has high stakes, making for a gripping read!
About the Book
Publisher: Henry Holt for Young Readers | Release Date: September 24, 2019 | Pages: 496
Genre: YA, Fantasy | Format: eBook | Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it?
For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.
All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:
A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.
One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Children of Blood and Bone, and An Ember in the Ashes.
There’s one final prophecy that’s been closely guarded for over 100 years since the Prophets left the world. Does it spell the end of the world, or a new beginning? The time foretold is now and all that (maybe) stands in its way are five characters but their roles are unclear.
“In the moonlit room overlooking the City of faith, a priest knelt before Ephyra and begged for his life. ‘Please,’ he said. ‘I don’t deserve to die. Please. I won’t touch them anymore, I swear. Have mercy.'”
I’m a simple reader: put doomsday prophecies, loveable characters doing their best, and morally grey characters in a book and I’m summoned! This book is epic fantasy at its best, building the world up around the reader through the characters and their experiences. The world is rich and vast, but the world-building is doled out slowly so it never feels like an info-dump.
I enjoyed watching the reaction to the priest’s murder in the aftermath of the opening scene through both the eyes of each of the five main characters, but also by extension the communities they are a part of in society. We learned so much about the world in those formative introductions.
I often struggle with books that have multiple points of view, and There Will Come a Darkness has five of them. But the way that Pool crafted this story is nothing short of masterful: the exposition is doled out slowly and each character has information that the others don’t. They each have a different perspective on the world and offer more information about society at large through their place within it.
“‘All of these things are connected. All of them mean that the last prophecy is unfolding. One of them, or perhaps all of them together, will bring about the Age of Darkness.'”
Each character has a distinct voice and I found myself getting more and more attached as I progressed in the plot. It’s rare that I love a large cast of characters as much as I did here. Their conversations feel real and authentic, and Pool did a great job building out each of their backstories.
I especially found myself heavily invested in Jude’s POV because his journey explores the notion of duty and personal desires, sacrifice, and how often when achieving a goal we feel “now what?” His arc is the literal interpretation of free will versus predetermination. Everything he wants in life is in direct opposition to his role and position in the Order, so his struggle is duty versus the personal attachments he has (but shouldn’t). It is worth noting that Jude offers the LGBTQIAP+ representation and his romantic interest is forbidden: not for orientation but rather because of his position in the Order (like priests or monks being celibate).
As the narrative continued, I found myself anticipating when the character’s paths would cross and how their journeys would dovetail. It was like watching a puzzle be completed in story form. There is so much backstabbing and twists, too. I gasped on more than one occasion while reading! More than anything, I loved the murkiness of the 100-year old prophecy and in trying to interpret it. Each of our five main characters plays a part, and while each of them is good (aka not wanting to bring about the Age of Darkness), their actions could still be bringing forth what they fear. It does bring an interesting discussion of determinism and free will.
The one downside to the multiple perspectives is that sometimes it took a minute for my goldfish brain to connect some of the dots. I take really good notes out of necessity for reviewing though, and that really helped with jogging my memory. It did take me ten days to read this book, but I think that is in large part due to a slump because whenever I read the book I was fully immersed and devoured the pages.
Overall, I really enjoyed this debut fantasy novel and can’t wait to continue the series! I recommend this to readers who like large casts of characters, doomsday prophecy, and tightly plotted narratives.
Representation: lgbtqiap (gay main character), racially diverse (4 of 5 MCs are characters of color)
Content warnings: inferred sexual abuse, imprisonment, murder, PTSD symptoms, racism, refugee camps, religious war, torture, toxic and abusive relationships, violence, xenophobia
Thank you Henry Holt for Young Readers for providing me an eARC of this book for my honest review. (I have since bought a final copy.) Quotations are taken from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon final publication.Let’s go on another adventure together!