Shades of Darkness (Review)

Shades of Darkness (Ravenborn Book One)
By A.R. Kahler
304 pages | March 8th 2016 | Simon Pulse


Islington Arts Academy is not an average high school. Nestled in the forests of Michigan, surrounded by trees and nature and virtually no evidence of civilization, it is an oasis for those looking to get away. Perfect for a student like Kaira Winters, who wants nothing more than to put her past behind her and focus on the present…and her looming graduation, just a few months away.

But the past has a way of returning when least expected.

Kaira knows that what happened before, at her old school, wasn’t normal. She knows that what happened to her ex-boyfriend wasn’t natural. But she refuses to believe that the recent death on campus, the one that left everyone on edge, has anything to do with her. She refuses to believe that she could be at fault again.

But just as the past always returns, the truth can never stay hidden for long.

Even if Kaira didn’t cause the first death at Islington, or the second, or the third, she has the ability to find out who did. She has the obligation to stop whatever is coming to campus. To end the darkness that is falling with the same snow that once blanketed the woods in beauty.

But to embrace this power—to relinquish herself to the ancient entity that has been lurking in the corners of her mind–is to let go of her humanity…and Kaira doesn’t know how far she can go before she loses herself completely.

Mysterious and murderous. This pretty much describes the experience of reading Shades of Darkness. It was a bit slow paced, and I found that I wasn't really drawn into the story until about forty pages in. Still, I was drawn in. There is a certain darkness surrounding the secrets of the protagonist Kaira that we never truly come to understand. I was excited by the concept of this book because boarding school stories had a tendency to be mysterious and intriguing.

As the story begins to take off triggers start to drudge up a dark past that Kaira is trying to forget, and soon enough a suicide epidemic begins to take over the campus. She knows that something is not right, and it might just have to do with her. She has to lean on her friends to begin to come to grips with what it happening around her. It is a bit difficult to have a protagonist with so many secrets because I found at parts, the story grew tangled and somewhat confusing.

Something I did love was the mythology angle. Norse mythology at that. I love all things mythological and you can practically draw me into any supernatural aspect that involves it.

 One thing I can honestly say I was not a fan of was how much information was withheld from the reader until the end. Instead of going along with the mystery and getting to sort of figure it out along with the characters, everything is thrown together in an explanation near the end. I wasn't a fan of that, I would have much preferred a gradual reveal.

The ending has certainly ensured I will be reading the second book, if not just to find out what is going to happen. I liked this book, but I didn't love it as much as I had hoped. It was very much an introductory book, I am hoping the second will see more action.

I want to thank Simon Shuster Canada for an ARC of this book.

Alex is many things, but first and foremost, he's a Sagittarius.

In the past few years, he's taught circus in Amsterdam and Madrid, gotten madly lost in the Scottish wilderness, drummed with Norse shamans, and received his Masters in creative writing from Glasgow University. And that's the abbreviated list.

He is the author of many things, including THE IMMORTAL CIRCUS, THE PALE QUEEN, THE HUNTED, and RAVENBORN (yes, all series, because his brain doesn't condense).

When he's not writing or climbing in the rafters, he's probably outside, staring at the clouds. And seeing as he now resides in Seattle, there are clouds aplenty.

He is represented by Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary.

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