Dark Rise by C.S. Pacat

Someone is trying to kill Will. They already murdered his mother months ago, and now they’re hunting him. Disguised as a dock boy in 19th-century London, Will is almost captured, but escapes with the help of an old family servant, who bears a desperate final message from Will’s mother: find the Stewards. They will protect him.

Suddenly, Will enters a magical world of destined birthrights, chivalric orders, warriors reborn, ancient magic and even more ancient evils. Eons ago, there was a Dark King who almost engulfed the world in terror. Though he was defeated, he is rising again. The chessboard is being set: light and dark, queens and pawns – all will have a part to play, and Will, seemingly the most vital of all.

Thus begins C.S. Pacat’s epic new YA fantasy series, which will undoubtedly delight readers of high fantasy classics such as Lord of the Rings. Will is one of several characters we follow, including Violet, a merchant’s daughter who unexpectedly teams up with Will, and Katherine, a young woman engaged to a nefarious Lord. Then there’s James, whose sharp tongue scorches the page.

Pacat has stated this is her take on the ‘English pastoral fantasy’ (yes, the title is a deliberate nod to The Dark Is Rising) but for readers who never felt they truly belonged in those stories. The set-up may feel familiar, but it’s obvious that Pacat, a master of finding the grey in the black-and-white, is gearing up to really explore the moral complexities facing each of these characters as agents in the coming battle.

Adventure, suspense, betrayal, desire – this book has it all. Make sure to have some tissues on hand while reading, and some fellow readers to text when you finish the book. The final chapter will have you incoherently screaming for the next instalment, and I only pray Pacat won’t keep us waiting for too long.

For ages 14+.

Jackie Tang is the editor of Readings Monthly.

Cover image for Dark Rise (Dark Rise, Book 1)

Dark Rise (Dark Rise, Book 1)

C.S. Pacat

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