A hundred years ago, the last of the prophets disappeared. Society has corrupted, religions have splintered, and a new zealot known as the Hierophant is preaching the destruction of all who are graced with magic. Now a new prophet has arrived, foretold by the prophets of old, to either usher in or prevent an Age of Darkness.
Let me start by saying this: There Will Come a Darkness absolutely blew me away. By the time I was 150 pages in, I could already tell it would be a new favorite. It was the book I wish I could have written, a book I can and will read many times in the future. And I cannot wait for the next volume to arrive.
Five narrators tell this story. There is a murderer and her dying sister, an exiled prince in hiding, a runaway with dark secrets in his past, and the new leader of a group that has kept the old prophets’ final prophecy in secret all these years. Other than the two sisters, none of these narrators know each other as the book starts. Their stories develop separately until they begin to collide, weaving into a complex narrative as the reader tries to figure out what may or may not be true and/or relevant to the prophecy that encircles them. All the while, the Hierophant is inciting riots, killing innocent people, torturing enemies, and keeping his face hidden behind a golden mask. There is So Much Going On, and it’s wonderful from the very first page. By the second half, I could not stop reading. In fact, if I had anything to complain about, it would be that the second half sped up way too much, losing some of the breadth and rhythm of the first half. It’s not often that I say that a book feels like it needed to be longer, but this is one of those times. Another 50-100 pages filling out that second half would have made this pretty much the perfect book.
I’m going to say this again: I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. The flaws were so minor as to be insignificant, and everything – world-building, characters, writing, history, psychology – was spot on. Technically, this book wasn’t my first of 2020, as I had two rereads before it, but I’m very happy that my first new read of 2020 was this wonderful. Now the rest of 2020 has to try to keep up!
Quick note: This book is being marketed as YA, but it isn’t really YA. The narrators are late teenagers, but the narrative doesn’t focus on themes common to YA novels (even speculative/fantasy YA novels). This is built far more like modern traditional fantasy. It’s character-driven with emphasis on politics, sociology, and theology.