Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this novel from Bloomsbury publishing prior to the July 11th (UK)/ August 15th (ANZ) release.
The perfect new middle-grade obsession!
Dark Blade by Steve Feasey is a well-executed, quick read of a novel, and although flawed, I find that many middle-grade novels are in order to keep the story moving and the reader engaged.
Perfect for fans of the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series.
I would 100% recommend this novel to a middle-grade audience and anyone who wants a quick, fun, fantasy read.
Blurb: A sweeping epic fantasy perfect for fans of the Summoner Trilogy by Taran Matharu and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo WHEN GODS FAIL, WHO WILL KEEP THE DARKNESS OUT? Lann knows nothing of his mysterious past, but by his fifteenth birthday, he will come face to face with destiny. For Lann must wield the Dreadblade, an ancient sword forged to defeat terrible monsters. Across the mountains, a King has been murdered. His daughter, Astrid, is a warrior with no desire to bear the crown. Only she can uncover her father's killer before her brother is framed for the crime. Evil is stirring. Lann and Astrid are the kingdom's last defence. Together, they must face the greatest darkness their world has ever known. Purchase at: Book Depository | Dymocks | Kindle
I am a huge – like mega-huge – sucker for Gods in middle-grade novels giving children an almost impossible cryptic quest, usually involving an enchanted sword. So when I received this novel, with the Norse runes on the sword on the cover, I was sucked in so deep!
As per usual, I went into this book blind. The only pre-knowledge was the writing on the front and back of the ARC, reading: “Whispers of the Gods”, and “When the Gods fail, who will keep the darkness out?” respectively.
Dark Blade started off innocently enough, with a basic origin and childhood of our main character Lannigon – or Lann for short – and the introduction of the existence of majik (as they spell it in the book). From the situation of our young protagonist’s upbringing, we now also know the general time in which the story is set.
Dark Blade contains some of the most classic tropes of a middle-grade novel including, the chosen one, cryptic Gods/ old mentor, and Godly parent, just to name a few.
One of my favourite things in this novel and in any novel is when there is a new God system with new names for the Gods. Even if the new system is based on an old one – Norse Mythology and Scandinavian lore in this instance – new names allow the fantasy world to resemble Norse mythology, but in its own way. The same way in which creating new states/ cities allows the story to be set in Scandinavia, but not.
The singular spoilery thing that will appear in this review is this: The Kraken was the most cheesiest, predictable and unoriginal thing in this novel, period.
I took this book almost everywhere with me…
I started to read this novel as a YA, which means I had the expectations of a young adult fantasy novel in mind, but as I kept reading it became evident that this novel is a middle-grade. With this revelation I allowed myself to relax into it and enjoy it more. Steve Feasey has a clear audience in mind and wrote exclusively for it. I will be talking more on this in the next few paragraphs, mostly in terms of a fast-paced story and lack of depth, all due to teen’s short attention spans (speaking from experience).
There was one thing that bugged me. Middle-grade or not, it just seemed that the majik and intuition was so enhanced that the good party knew every step of the bad party. This irked me because it just seems like majik was used as an easy out instead of having the characters find other means of discovering information on the bad party. There was a significant lack of interaction with towns-people, and also a lack of mistakes and consequences by the protagonists. This whole concept does move the story along, but I think there could have been a better way of executing it.
Dark Blade was a very fast-paced read, no doubt. This made for an easy read but a little bit frustrating for a YA reader who encounters a lot of slow-burn storylines where the characters don’t have everything handed to them and suffer detrimental consequences of any, and sometimes all actions. Although this novel would not lose the attention of the intended middle-grade audience as they most likely wouldn’t pick up on the small intricacies that I have.
★ Rating ★
I rated this book a ★★★☆☆ (3.5/5 stars) because for me it isn’t what I’d like to read in terms of world and character building and development, but at the same time, I had so much fun flying through it and taking in the story on such a base level.
For a middle-grade audience, I would 100% recommend them this novel if they wanted a new magic/ fantasy story after reading Harry Potter a million times. I would also like to get a young person’s opinion on this novel and see what they think about the characters, mythology and the world-building.
EndNote: Sorry has been posted a day late. I had an assignment that I didn’t realise was due last night and I rushed to submit it by 11:59 pm. Oop.
Blog Feature Opportunity
If you know a middle-grade reader who will enjoy this novel, I will happily send over my ARC copy in exchange for a review on this blog from their perspective.
See you back here on Monday’s (book reviews), Wednesday’s (storytime/ writing updates) and Saturday’s (other bookish content).