Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Denizen Hardwick is an orphan, and his life is, well, normal. Sure, in storybooks orphans are rescued from drudgery when they discover they are a wizard, or a warrior, or a prophesied king. But this is real life–orphans are just kids without parents. At least that’s what Denizen thought…
On a particularly dark night, the gates of Crosscaper Orphanage open to a car that almost growls with power. The car and the man in it retrieve Denizen with the promise of introducing him to a long-lost aunt. But on the ride into the city, they are attacked. Denizen soon learns that monsters can grow out of the shadows. And there is a ancient order of knights who keep them at bay. Denizen has a unique connection to these knights, but everything that they tell him feels like a half-truth. If Denizen joins the order, is he fulfilling his destiny, or turning his back on everything his family did to keep him alive?
For anyone who’s a fan of juvenile and YA fantasy and science fiction, you know the field is extremely crowded right now with books right and left being hyped as the next Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. It’s getting more and more difficult to find something that truly stands out. Well, Knights of the Borrowed Dark is one such book, and I’m hoping it’s the beginning of a long-term series. Thirteen-year-old Denizen is a character that kids will find relatable. He’s courageous and loyal and wants to do the right thing. However, he’s also impulsive, quick to anger, and often acts without thinking of the possible consequences. The chapters are told in the third person and alternate between him and his best friend Simon who he’s had to leave back at the orphanage, and is trying to survive his own perilous situation. The secondary characters are all interesting, especially as they all have their own inner demons and you’re never really sure of their true motivations. The setting in Ireland, is particularly well written, and the scenes in the orphanage are bleak and desolate. While the theme of a downtrodden young orphan being rescued by some secret organization, only to discover he/she has some sort of powers which they’ll ultimately use to defeat whatever villain is threatening their word, isn’t new, David Ruddin gives it an imaginative and dark twist. It’s part dark fantasy, and part science fiction, and I think it will appeal to many upper elementary-aged children as well as tweens. It’s a perfect story for book discussion groups or family reads. I am really excited to see where Dave Ruddin takes this series.