The Descending Darkness, Michael Chulsky
Publisher: Rocking Horse Publishing
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Length: 298 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
This book is not LGBT but it is YA and it touches on people accepting others and differences. Team work, cooperation. Also families loving their children unconditionally.
Shadow is a teenager who just happens to be a Dhampir – half human/half vampire. He isn’t too fond of what he is but he does have powers and abilities and he has been spoken to by a shaman as to how and where to find others like him. Others with abilities. He needs to find them now as worrying signs are occurring –
“Hey, Shadow,” Ellie said, “have you looked outside lately?” Shadow rushed over to her. “What do you mean?” “Look at the sky. It’s acting all weird. It’s like what happened that night when we first met. Remember?”
“It’s all right. It’s my fault for not explaining things better than I have. It’s a bad habit that I need to break,” Shadow replied. “I was warned that there would be three signs to watch out for, and the real test will commence following the second sign.”
So it is imperative that all the children he can collect are collected. Shadow has the ability to use a portal to transfer where he needs to.
Shadow has to be aware of the signs, rescue vital objects, battle demons, and explain to a dragon that he wants to preserve the Dragons Eye when they go to Draconia Isle. Along with rescuing a child with similar abilities to Shadow being tortured by his family. All while dealing with temperamental teenagers who he has assembled for a team. They all live in Shadow’s castle and it isn’t always easy living near other teenagers. There are some who grow close, others who are not so close, and they don’t always want to do what is required of them. But Shadow has to keep them cohesive to fight the evil Maedara. He also has nightmares about his mother. So nothing big there at all, phew!
The teens are like typical kids they fight, they play games and music, but they all have powers. And they have questions as to why Shadow brought them to his castle –
“Well. . .why should we train for this ‘great evil’ or whatever, if we don’t even know who or what it is?” Tristan asked.
Maedara is the queen of evil and major league shopper, who also has a shoe fetish – and a demon sidekick, Mezmir..
“It’s as horrible as usual, but the food isn’t what’s upsetting me. I just really wanted those shoes the other night.” “Shoes? Master, what about the Dragon’s Eye?” “Oh! The Dragon’s Eye,” Maedara replied, glaring. “Yes, thank you for bringing it up. One of my strongest demons died in the attempt of stealing it and, as a result, I don’t have it. But thank you again, Mezmir, for reminding me of a failure that was soooo traumatizing for me.”
Shopping for shoes or not, Maedara is on a mission, and goes to the Back Market to secure the Chest of Ondeyr. It is something which is central to her plans. Niki, who is a new team member, has intel on the Black Market auction that Maedara attends –
“You understand, I’m sure, that she’s in possession of what was inside the Chest of Ondeyr, right?” Niki nodded. “Yes, the Scepter of Ondeyr.”
The book has plenty of fantasy elements, action, some interesting characters, predictions for Shadow and his team, a bit of a love interest, not much, and some positive messages in amongst the action –
“What about the rest of the things that she saw in her vision?” Isaac asked.
“As troubling as those things are, we cannot worry about them right now,” Shadow said. “You can’t prevent the future from happening just by worrying about it. You’ll only drive yourself crazy.”
“Shadow’s right,” Ethan said. “If you allow yourself to fret about things that haven’t happened yet, then you’ll waste the time you have right now in the present.”
And some pop culture references, including –
“God, Tristan, you can’t just ask people why they’re evil,” Crystal said. “Did you just quote Mean Girls, Crystal?” Ellie asked, laughing. “Because if you did, that would be so fetch of you.”
“Yeah, I did,” Crystal replied, smiling. “And yeah, stop trying to make fetch happen, because it isn’t going to.”
And some positive core gender messages. Shadow and Ellie form a bond and he thinks of her as a strong female. Something I like to see in YA reading –
“That’s my girl,” Shadow thought. “She’ll never need me to come to her rescue. She’ll never die waiting for me.”
My primary niggle with The Descending Darkness is that Shadow is never quite fully developed for me. I would like to know more about him. He is an interesting and strong character full of convictions to do the right thing by other people, or the normals. Sometimes the writing was a bit stiff but the world building, the messages and the fantasy elements worked well.
The writing is easy to read. The evil Maedara is quite OTT and campy at times – a kind of Cruella De Vil-esque character – which I liked. It adds to some teenage humour. But Maedara is definitely an evil-doer. The teenagers are pretty age appropriate, they snipe at one another and want to go shopping instead of saving the world, but who can blame them? There is action, with many lives to save along the way, the world building is strong. There is betrayal and bonds formed and lost. I did feel like I had worked out the predicted betrayer but the writing still made me think I could be wrong, so that was all okay by me. This is a first novel by a young author and it’s is a nice way to start his writing career. 4 stars!