In Dark Rise by C.S. Pacat, the ancient world of magic is no more. Its heroes are dead, its halls are ruins, and its great battles between Light and Dark are forgotten. Only the Stewards remember, and they keep their centuries-long vigil, sworn to protect humanity if the Dark King ever returns.
Sixteen-year-old dock boy Will is on the run, pursued by the men who killed his mother. When an old servant tells him of his destiny to fight beside the Stewards, Will is ushered into a world of magic, where he must train to play a vital role in the oncoming battle against the Dark.
As London is threatened by the Dark King’s return, the reborn heroes and villains of a long-forgotten war begin to draw battle lines. But as the young descendants of Light and Dark step into their destined roles, old allegiances, old enmities, and old flames are awakened. Will must stand with the last heroes of the Light to prevent the fate that destroyed their world from returning to destroy his own.
Dark Rise By C.S. Pacat Review
Please. Bear with me. This review is probably one of the hardest I’ve ever written. Why? Because my love for Dark Rise knows no bounds. I have now read it twice. Once as an advanced copy, and the second time as a buddy read with Becky (Crooks Books– see link for review) and Leah (Leah’s Book Blog- see link for review). You have the summary above. And now I’m going to try and organize my thoughts. But, much like Dark Rise, I promise nothing.
I should mention, as a side note, that at the time of my first reading of Dark Rise, I had not read the Captive Prince or Fence.
Everything a dark heart reader wants is in Dark Rise. I called C.S. Pacat, a monster on Twitter, and she thanked me. That is the author that gets the assignment. Exceptional detail builds a magnificent world and magic system. And while the characters are a joy, developed to be loved. It isn’t fair. Like Game of Thrones? You just never know. So, you can expect to experience the plot’s agony and the characters’ pain and be blown away by how far C.S. Pacat goes. AND SHE GOES THERE. She doesn’t just go there. She finds a whole new hellscape to drag readers through.
The wave of revulsion she felt at that glimpse of the black blade was like nothing she had ever felt before… knowing immediately that it was the source of the roiling sickness… As she watched, the flame struck one of Simon’s men, and he vomited up black ichor, as though his internal organs had rotted through.
Dark Rise- Themes
There are multiple heavy and connecting themes throughout Dark Rise, and Pacat handles them with precision. In an effort to not relentlessly ramble, here is a list.
- Darkness will come. The question is how you face it.
- You can keep running, but inevitably you can’t run from yourself.
- Destiny versus free will. Can you change the fate you are born into?
- Who are you, or more importantly do you know who you are?
- And if you don’t believe in who you are, what happens?
- Friendship instead of love tropes.
A multitude of characters face these themes, but to go too in-depth about them would spoil some of the stories. So, I’m going to try to discuss the characters from a different perspective.
Dark Rise- Characters
Two of the main characters are Violet and Will. Violet knows what she is, but chooses to run from it and Will really hasn’t a clue as to what, or who he is. Rather than go into spoiler-ish details around these characters, there is something more essential. The arc as individuals and friends. From the moment they meet, Violet and Will accept each other wholly. Throughout the book, they have a loyalty to each other above anything else and it is spectacular.
Will spends much of the book trying to figure out his future based on a muddled past that he doesn’t understand. Meanwhile, Violet has learned things about her present that she is trying to outrun. The question is will either come to understand their reality?
The surrounding cast of characters is complex and their arcs are well-developed. How those arcs develop, is often shocking.
Dark Rise- C.S. Pacat’s Writing
This review would not be complete if I didn’t discuss the exceptional writing of C.S. Pacat in Dark Rise. It is exceptional. I don’t just mean that it is exceptional on the level of talent, although that is definitely the case. However, specific to Dark Rise, there is a cadence and flow to her writing that perfectly matches the story she is telling.
“I think there is great power in you, Will,” She said. “And when you learn to wield it, you must make your own choices. Will you fight with strength, or compassion? Will you kill or show mercy?” Her words stirred something inside him. He could feel it, even though his mind wanted to shy away. He didn’t want to look at it. But he forced himself to, and when he did, it was there. Not power. But something else.
Dark Rise Final Thoughts
Mercy. There is so much I haven’t said and want to say. However, I will not spoil Dark Rise for anyone. It is dark and twisted. It will break your heart and give you whiplash. Don’t underestimate its powerful storytelling, engrossing characters, and magic system. Just hang on tight and brace yourself. When you open this book, the dark does rise. And C.S. Pacat will bring you to your knees.