Dark Rise by C.S. Pascat – Book Review!

Sixteen-year-old dock boy Will is on the run, pursued by the men who killed his mother. Then an old servant tells him of his destiny to fight beside the Stewards, who have sworn to protect humanity if the Dark King ever returns. Will is thrust into a world of magic, where he starts training for a vital role in the oncoming battle against the Dark.As London is threatened and old enmities 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.

I buddy read this with Susan and Leah & boy am I glad we did. Dark Rise took me on a wild ride filled with impossible to guess twists and turns and master foreshadowing. Will is on the run, though he’s not sure why or from who all he knows is someone murdered his mother and her last words to him were ‘run.’ An encounter with a servant from his old life though starts to fill in the blanks. Will is no regular dockboy, he is the descendant of an ancient warrior, a Steward, who defeated the Dark Lord in a battle centuries ago, and now someone is trying to raise him from the dead. Thrust into the world of the Stewards, ancient warriors who aren’t quick to accept outsiders, Will knows how important his role is in stopping the rise of the Dark Lord. But not all is as it seems, there are enemies and unlikely allies around every corner and Will will have to reach into the deepest part of himself if he is to awaken his powers and save everyone.

Dark Rise is told from multiple POV’s. Will, Violet and Katherine. Will is our hero MC, thrust into a magical world he grew up knowing nothing about, but he jumps into his role head first despite his lack of training or knowledge. He has a kind of otherworldly nature about him, which makes sense when we learn that he is the descendant of The Lady, the Steward who managed to bring down the Dark Lord the first time. He carries a weight with him, wanting vengeance for the murder of his mother and has so many questions about his life and the quest in front of him. Violet works for Simon, the man who is trying to bring the Dark Lord back to life, though she doesn’t know of his magical side at first. She is feisty and not one to back down from a fight, perhaps due to growing up in a world that looks down on her for her mixed heritage. And Katherine, Simon’s fiance and someone whose roll in the story is kept pretty close to the vest until the later part of the book. She is your typical London socialite, until she spots Will and her world gets turned upside down.

Alongside these characters Pascat introduces us to a world of side characters that all play large parts in the story. From members of the Stewards, to creatures from lore and members of Simons and the Dark Lords crew. My favourites definitely being Justice, a Steward who saves Will and returns him to the Stewards. He’s your stoic, silent, 100% for the cause kind of guy and I enjoyed his role in the story. The other being James, a reincarnation of one of the Dark Ones most loyal and deadly friends.

Pascat writes this book in a way that is extremely reminiscent of older, more traditional fantasy. With the golden hero going on a journey of self discovery before saving the day, but thanks to the absolute bombs she drops throughout, this story becomes completely her own. I said it before and I’ll say it again, this book is a mindfuck. There were so many points when I thought I had the story down, I could see where it was going and felt comfortable in my assumption, and then Pascat would throw a pitch from left-field and completely upend my theory. But these weren’t spur of the moment twists that seemingly come out of nowhere, rather the so well woven into the plot ones that make you do a massive face palm wondering how you didn’t see it coming, and boy did I enjoy each and every one.

I loved the worldbuilding in this book and how Pascat allowed us to learn the history of the Stewards, as well as the other magical forces alongside our MC’s. Neither Will, nor Violet knew anything about this world before they find themselves tangled in it, and that allows the author to give us plenty of lore and history without it feeling overwhelming in any way. The magic system was unique and another thing I enjoyed learning about, especially with how big a role it plays in the overall story. Thanks to Pascat’s writing style, the story progresses pretty quickly and, though there are some pretty long time jumps, which is normally something I dislike, she manages to propel the story along whilst also giving us enough character and world building to ensure we get invested in the outcome, hoping for our favourites to make in through alive.

I’m so thankful that Susan pestered me into buddy reading this with her, not only because I was glad of having someone to shout at about the twists, but also because I enjoyed this story way more than I expected to. I’ve had a bit of a meh time with YA fantasy recently, but this has re-affirmed my love for it. Wondrously dark, twisty as fuck and filled with characters you can’t help but root for, I can’t wait to pick up the sequel and see that the author has in store for us next.

6 replies »

  1. You nailed it with this review, Becky! I loved all those plot twists that were woven into the story so seamlessly that they looked like they came out of nowhere and shifted our perspective completely, so we never could quite put our finger on what to expect next. Looking forward to the sequel with you two!

    Liked by 1 person

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