I read a book! I’m so happy to say that I finally finished A Darkness At The Door by Intisar Khanani.
This is the sequel to The Theft of Sunlight and is part of the Dauntless Path series, which starts with Thorn. Thorn is a standalone and is not a requirement for ADATD, but you’ll need to read Theft to appreciate ADATD.
Warning: a couple of potential spoilers ahead. I say “potential” because they’re not really specific, but they might spoil the overall feel of the ending a little.
A Darkness At The Door
I’ve been cursed, betrayed, and sold into slavery – but the truth I carry can’t be allowed to die.
Only Rae knows the extent of the corruption at the heart of the kingdom of Menaiya, from the noble lord who betrayed her, to the Circle of Mages whose wards protect the slavers from discovery. Injured and imprisoned on a slave ship, Rae’s options are quickly running out. When a desperate escape attempt goes terribly wrong, she finds herself indebted to a terrifying Fae sorceress.
Now Rae will not rest until she has rescued her fellow prisoners and freed her land from the darkness that has taken hold. To succeed, she’ll need every ally she can find—including Bren, the thief who may have stolen her heart. But Bren is hiding his own bloody secrets, and the curses that encircle Rae have sunk their claws into her mind. With her debts coming due and time running short, all the truths in the world may not be enough to save her kingdom, or herself.
About the Author: Intisar Khanani
Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. Prior to publishing her novels, Intisar worked as a public health consultant on projects relating to infant mortality and minority health, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. She is the author of The Sunbolt Chronicles and Thorn (HarperTeen 2020).
A fitting conclusion to the duology
Okay, a few disclosures. One, I may be a little biased because I’m a big fan of Intisar Khanani’s work. Two, I went into this book as someone who’s been having a hard time getting back into reading for the last few years. Last year, I read one graphic novel (Neil Gaiman, et al) and two short stories (Intisar Khanani). The year before that I read one full-length book and one novella. That’s how dire my reading has been. In an effort to get me into some kind of reading mood this year, I revisited old favorites–specifically, Intisar Khanani’s Sunbolt Chronicles, a series that I absolutely love. I read the two books in the series before diving into A Darkness At The Door.
So, take all of that as you will. My ‘reader self’ is still out of sorts so writing a review after so long feels a little strange.
Anyway, having said all that, I find that A Darkness At The Door is a great conclusion to the duology and I enjoyed reading it. Well, I like most of it.
Here are some of the things I like:
It has a strong and resilient woman at the center, and the supporting characters are pretty interesting, too (shoutout to Artemis and Lirika!). It’s a gripping story with a lot of action and a little magic thrown in. It has disability representation that’s handled well. It has some pretty dark stuff and mature themes, but I think they’re tackled well, too. Also, [spoiler] villainous folks get their comeuppance and good folks win some.
I think the best thing about the duology is the main character, Rae, who is the heart of it all. She’s strong, but also vulnerable. She’s smart and thinks things through, but she’s not closed off to her emotions. She gets herself into some kind of trouble so many times, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that she’s a big-hearted person who doesn’t let anything stop her from trying to help others.
Some of the things I don’t care for:
I think the pacing isn’t as consistent as Theft and my attention wavered a bit somewhere in the middle of the book. It’s like so many things are happening and also nothing is happening, I don’t know. Things pick up towards the end though so it’s fine. Also, the romance bit, which isn’t bad really. I’m not a big fan of heavy romance mixed in my fantasy and sci-fi reads, so I’m glad that the romance here is kind of light and clean. I would have preferred none of it for this, but that’s just me (haha).
I don’t know how to get into more details without spoiling a few things, so let me just say that A Darkness At The Door is a great ending to the duology. Many things are wrapped up nicely. And there are no [spoiler] major heartbreaks, too, which I appreciate (haha).
Like most good stories, the book ends with new beginnings, so, you know, I think it’s nice and open to potentially more stories in the Dauntless Path world. I know I would be happy to read something that features other characters like Rae’s sisters Niya and Bean or even Lirika.