Grey placed his finger in the middle of the shadow.
'What's this?' he asked.
Denizen frowned. 'It's a shadow.'
'No, it isn't,' Grey said. 'It's a door.'
Published by Puffin Books in April 2016
368 pages in paperback (I read it via NetGalley)
Cover by Owen Freeman
Cover by Owen Freeman
Summary from Publisher’s website
The first book in a new series about an orphan boy who discovers he is part of a secret army that protects the world from a race of shadowy monsters.
Denizen Hardwick doesn't believe in magic - until he's ambushed by a monster created from shadows and sees it destroyed by a word made of sunlight.
That kind of thing can really change your perspective.
Now Denizen is about to discover that there's a world beyond the one he knows. A world of living darkness where an unseen enemy awaits.
Fortunately for humanity, between us and the shadows stand the Knights of the Borrowed Dark.
Unfortunately for Denizen, he's one of them . . .
Knights of the Borrowed Dark is a cracking opening to a series. It’s contemporary but with fantastical elements. The flavour is distinctly Irish – yet the themes are universal. Although part of a series, it doesn’t feel unresolved. It’s an origin story that makes you itch to see what happens next.
Despite all the exciting action, there’s a powerful emotional aspect to the telling. Violence and its consequences are explored in a credible way (even though there are monsters). It starts small but soon becomes startlingly large in scale: the battle of good and evil, no less.
That might sound simplistic – but the obvious is subverted cleverly. No clichés are left unplayed with. Ideal for the imaginative young reader who has become a bit bored by the usual way these stories go.
Family – or the lack of it – and friendship lie at the core of the story. Some characters may well surprise you (they did me!) – and the emotional tone is well-judged. There is great deal of action adventure – but feelings are right there too. The relationship between Denizen and Simon is particularly engaging.
Despite all this serious stuff, and its length, it’s actually quite a light read much of the time. Some great wisecracks and asides bring humour and rounded sense of the characters involved. On the other hand, there are some seriously creepy events. Not for the faint-hearted.
Dave Rudden uses a fine and unpatronising writing style – happily switching from the lyrical to the hard-boiled and then onto brisk and action-packed. Although Knights of the Borrowed Dark would make a fantastic graphic novel (or even a film), it would be a shame to lose the quality of the written narrative.
In short, Knights of the Borrowed Dark is an impressive blend of dramatic action and the personal. Readers will marvel at the practicalities of magic, thrill at all the action and laugh along with Denizen. There might also be the odd tear – and then hunger for the next story.
K. M. Lockwood lives by the sea in Sussex - see the pics on Instagram. She fills jars with sea-glass, writes on a very old desk and reads way past her bedtime. Her tiny bed-and-breakfast is stuffed full of books - and even the breakfasts are named after writers. You're always welcome to chat stories with @lockwoodwriter on Twitter.