Review: The Darkening by Sunya Mara

Review: The Darkening by Sunya Mara

The Darkening by Sunya Mara is the first instalment in a gripping new fantasy series that kept me hooked from page one. With experimental magic, a cursed storm, an undercover protagonist, and a royal love interest, this one contains so many elements that I love. I especially enjoyed the balance between worldbuilding and action, which makes this one a rich and unputdownable debut that fantasy fans will love.

Review: The Darkening by Sunya MaraTitle: The Darkening
Series: The Darkening #1
Author: Sunya Mara
Publisher: Clarion
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: July 5, 2022
Rating: four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

In this thrilling and epic YA fantasy debut the only hope for a city trapped in the eye of a cursed storm lies with the daughter of failed revolutionaries and a prince terrified of his throne.

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.

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❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃


Review: The Darkening by Sunya Mara

Years ago, Vesper’s revolutionary mother was captured by the queen’s soldiers and sentenced to death by a storm that surrounds the city. When Vesper’s father, the only family she has left, is taken as a prisoner himself, she is determined to do whatever it takes to save him. Armed with her father’s book of experimental magic, Vesper disguises herself as an apprentice in order to infiltrate the castle. However, when she realizes that there is more good in the prince than she thought, her path to saving her father becomes more complex than she thought.

❀ Interesting Main Character

Vesper is an interesting main character, and I enjoyed reading about her internal conflict. She is an advocate for justice for the outer rings of her city, and while she has big shoes to fill as the daughter of revolutionaries, I liked how she chooses her own path and makes her own decisions. Vesper’s loyalty to her father is especially touching, even when her desire to save the city conflicts with her plans to save him. Throughout the book, she undergoes a lot of self-discovery, and I enjoyed the direction her character takes in the end.

❀ Engaging Story

As I was reading, I found myself hooked by the pacing of this book. Pacing is often something I struggle with in fantasies, but Sunya Mara successfully kept me engaged throughout the whole story. She begins by taking the time to unpack the world and its social conditions, and I appreciated getting a feel for the environment before diving into the plot. While there are many descriptions at the beginning of the book, I was never bored by these, and the story remains action-packed and suspenseful all the way through as we fear for Vesper’s cover being blown.

❀ An Epic Fantasy

The Darkening by Sunya Mara is an epic fantasy with many surprising elements. I enjoyed the idea of experimental magic and a cursed storm, and the main character develops throughout the story. As someone who tends to struggle with long fantasy novels, I enjoyed the pacing of this one, and I would recommend it to those looking for a thrilling new series with an exciting world.

About Sunya Mara

sunya mara

Sunya Mara grew up in six different cities across five different states and now calls Los Angeles home. She studied film and business at the University of Southern California and went on to write and illustrate at Kobe Bryant’s Granity Studios. When not telling stories, she spends her time haunting old movie theaters and staring at museum walls.

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