THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS by Katy Rose Pool.
Orbit Books. p/b. £8.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
To the Sentry The Pale Hand is the rumour of a mark left on the faces of the dead. But to Ephyra, The Pale Hand is her weighty obligation. With the Grace of Blood she takes lives from those who are cruel, those who do not deserve life. She takes lives because she needs them, not for herself but for her sister. Now she has killed a priest and the Conclave will not be pleased when they find his body complete with the pale mark.
There are more Sentry in the streets than normal, Anton notices; there appears to be a whole squad outside the Thalassa Gardens taverna as he arrives for work. It would seem a priest has been murdered. It is the first of The Pale Hand’s killings in Pallas Athos, though rumours of their work elsewhere date back five years. A visitor asking for Anton sparks curiosity in his workmates but Anton recognises the woman immediately. The Nameless Woman has an esha very different to those around her. She is a scryer and this time it is Anton himself whom she has been hired to find.
Hassan, Prince of Herat, was forced to flee Nazirah leaving his parents at the mercy of The Witnesses. In the High City of Pallas Athos it has been many years since pilgrims walked the Sacred Road. Now refugees fill its path telling of how the Hierophant has found a way to stop the Graced from using their abilities. Hassan may not be Graced, but beneath his current disguise he is still heir to the Seif line and when he stumbles across Witnesses threatening an elderly man he is not afraid to make his feelings known.
There Will Come A Darkness is the first volume in the Age of Darkness trilogy set in a world built of traditional fantasy and a grand struggle between good and evil. Pool offers up an immersive debut that is comfortingly reminiscent of past works by Canavan yet with worldbuilding and a magic system that are adequately unique and firmly grounded in a young adult setting.
Ephyra, Hassan and Anton plus two other key characters take chapters in turn to hold the point of view narrative and move each aspect of the story onwards at a good pace towards its eventual and inevitable convergence. As the narrative unfolds, light is shed on the underlying prophecy and character backgrounds are revealed, while the end of the book paves the way nicely for the next in the series.
As you would expect from a YA story, the main focus here is on character relationships and the individual deeds and regrets of their past lives, with each one’s immediate motives and needs taking precedent over the bigger picture which still looms in the background giving the sense of a great conflict still to come. Though each character’s narrative voice is not especially distinguishable, the book as a whole is easily enjoyable and satisfying in length and premise.