By Cynthia Ayala
Orah and Nathaniel sought out the truth and brought their world back from the brink of darkness. But not everyone was able to live with the knowledge of what the temple had kept secret for so long. Desperate to find a way to bring peace back to their people, they have sailed across the sea in the hopes of finding a society more advanced than them. What they got, was unexpected. A world much like their own, they are caught in the middle and face another challenge to unite these people for peace to save their own
This is an existential novel, the problem is it’s the same as the previous one. That’s not to say that it is an exact duplicate but the problem is the fact that readers once again have two sides to the world: the less advanced and the more advanced and how they are reluctant to their respective knowledge with one another. This is more or less the same premise of the previous novel. So we have the protagonist, older yes, but still stuck in the same situation they escaped to save. This isn’t just an extension of the previous novel, it’s the same novel, although will far less tension than the previous one.
Children of Darkness was a tension driven novel following a trio of friends on an adventure to fight the Temple of Light and save themselves and their people from it. Thomas is no longer in the novel, so the ensemble of characters is cut, which hurts the novel. Thomas is different from Orah and Nathaniel; he had different opinions on how to deal with things than these two. Orah and Nathaniel are two alike, allowing for no other look at how to help the people. So different views and opinions aren’t really expressed to develop novels premise, or to at the very least, add in some tension. Half the novel is about exploring the world they have landed in, learning about the people and the culture, the tension doesn’t start to rise until that last quarter of the novel, leaving for a tireless dull read up until that point. There should be some rising tension, but there isn’t.
That leads to another problem Litwack had in the structure of the novel. The previous novel ended on such a high note, everything was perfect. But what can be gleaned is that it all fell apart very quickly. The author doesn’t truly address everything that is wrong at their home instead he uses brief journal entries that explore Orah’s emotions rather than the situation itself. There is also the unbelievable aspect that she has a mental connection with Thomas considering in the previous novel, on their journey, she often addressed him as though he were a nuisance yet now they have a connection? Something happened between them, and that is something the reader should have been able to see to strengthen the character dynamics to the reader.
Finally, the way the novel begins is jarring. It takes place after so long from the previous novel and doesn’t address that. It takes a few chapters to address how long as passed since the previous novel when it should have been there in the first chapter at least. It’s very and doesn’t ground the reader into the story.
There are a lot of very strong ideas in the novel, the biggest problem is that Litwack was unable to deliver a fast paced novel and instead refocused on world building a world readers already know, dragging out the story making it verge on the boring. (★★☆☆☆ | C-)