Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 86
overall engaging YA fantasy
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
THE DARKNESS WITHIN US is an interesting enemies-to-lovers YA fantasy. The book is a sequel to THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US, with this story following Alessandra's sister, Chrysantha. Chrysantha learned early that it was a men's world, and she has hidden her true nature to appear simple and pliant in order to make her way to a place where she could be in control of her destiny. She married an old duke without heirs, and she knows that once he dies, she will be a dowager, able to control her own fate and never having to be married again.

Once he is finally gone, she feels free for the first time in her life. However, an unexpected heir shows up to claim everything from her. The new Duke, Eryx, is attractive and hiding a lot of secrets, he also antagonizes Chrysantha at every turn. While she investigates his claim, she refuses to let go of hers, even while he seeks to marry her off again. As she tries to hold on to what she has worked so hard for, she comes up with new plots that bring her closer to Eryx and his secrets.

What I loved: This was an overall engaging story. The plot moves fairly quickly with a focus on Chrysantha's character development. She finally has everything she thought she wanted, and so, her masks and and priorities are changing. As such, she has begun to live for herself and reconsider things from her past, such as her relationship with her sister. These internal reflections are a strength of the story, particularly in the context of her possibly losing everything she worked so hard to attain.

The romance was interesting and the attraction definitely builds. It felt a bit tongue-in-cheek in places, as Chrysantha has formed a book club, and they also discuss why enemies-to-lovers may work. It was entertaining in these ways. There are also a few scenes with the characters from the first book that will charm people who loved them. Their happy ending continues through the lens of this new book with plenty of throwbacks.

What left me wanting more: The romance felt very slow and then very fast with an ending that almost felt rushed. However, this may make sense in the context of the epiphanies revealed. The beginning was likewise a bit slow as it gets into Chrysantha's life, and there are several side characters revealed without much of a role in the story that felt a bit like filler, slowing down the main plot.

Final verdict: THE DARKNESS BETWEEN US is an engaging YA fantasy read that readers who loved THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US will enjoy!
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