Dark Rise – C. S. Pacat – ARC Review

Title: Dark Rise
Series: Dark Rise #1
: C. S. Pacat
Genre: YA, Fantasy
: September 28th, 2021 (Quill Tree Books)

Synopsis: The ancient world of magic is no more. Its heroes are dead, its halls are ruins, and its great battles between Light and Dark are forgotten. Only the Stewards remember, and they keep their centuries-long vigil, sworn to protect humanity if the Dark King ever returns.

Sixteen-year-old dock boy Will is on the run, pursued by the men who killed his mother. When an old servant tells him of his destiny to fight beside the Stewards, Will is ushered into a world of magic, where he must train to play a vital role in the oncoming battle against the Dark.

As London is threatened by the Dark King’s return, the reborn heroes and villains of a long-forgotten war begin to draw battle lines. But as the young descendants of Light and Dark step into their destined roles, old allegiances, old enmities, and old flames are awakened. Will must stand with the last heroes of the Light to prevent the dark fate that destroyed their world from returning to destroy his own.

Thank you to the publisher, Quill Tree Books, HCC Frenzy, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“When the past is forgotten, then it can return. Only those who remember have the chance to stave it off. For the dark is never truly gone; it only waits for the world to forget, so that it may rise again.”

In 1821 London, Will Kempen is working on the docks, hiding from the men who killed his mother and trying to find out who ordered her death and why. Just as an old servant finds him and informs him of a great destiny he is meant to fulfill, Will is captured and held prisoner in the hold of a ship. Violet Ballard sneaks onto that same ship to watch her brother take the brand of the mysterious and powerful trader, Simon, as she hopes to someday, when there is chaos as the docks are attacked by men dressed like Knights of old in search of someone. In the confusion, both Violet is also mistaken for a captive of Simon’s and both she and Will are rescued by the knights, known as Stewards, and taken to their hidden stronghold. They are introduced to a magical world where an ancient battle between Light and Dark is on the horizon as descendants and loyalists of the Dark King are working to bring him back to life, unleashing evils that would destroy the world as they know it.

I can’t believe I didn’t know about this author until now, because this book was so good! The world-building was not as complex as I expected it to be but everything was explained pretty well and the story was easy to follow even though it jumps into the action right from page one. Despite being set in 1821 London, this book could have been set in a fantasy world of its own with the amount of history and lore involved and the initial chapters did a great job of setting the mood for the story ahead.

“I think what people were is less important than what they are. And what people are is less important than what they could be.

Will and James are definitely my favorite characters here and I’m really curious to see where their arcs will go. Both seem to me like rather tragic characters and it’ll be fascinating to see just how far nurture over nature goes with the two of them. I also really liked Violet’s journey throughout the book -though the sheer irony of her situation was astonishing after all she did in this book to not end up there. The cast of characters isn’t huge, but each of them has a significant role to play – even those who seem like side characters. What I found really interesting about the characters in this book is that when they are first introduced, they all seem to perfectly fit into one of the traditional roles of an epic fantasy – of course, some take to it easier than others – whether it is the special Chosen One, the evillest of evil villains, the mentor or the sidekick. It seems a bit cliched at first – however, nothing is as it seems with any of them, and I was seriously impressed with how the ending essentially turned all these roles on their heads, leaving an entirely unpredictable field going into book 2. It will be interesting to see all the characters’ reaction to the reveals at the end of this book!

The pacing was the only issue I had with this. After a promising start, things slowed down a lot, almost as if just going through the motions and if I wasn’t accustomed to fantasy novels doing this a lot, I might have put the book down before the halfway point. To be fair though, it does take a turn after a while and the pace picks up almost imperceptibly to the point that I was so engrossed in the tale, I stopped taking notes entirely and didn’t notice till I was nearly at the 80% mark.

The ending was a fantastic and at least for me, a completely surprising reveal. It was the kind of twist I’ve never seen in any fantasy novel I’ve read so far and with the sheer number of possibilities ahead, I want the sequel right now! Overall, this was an amazing read, and a much lighter book than many epic fantasies I’ve read. It would probably be a good choice for even beginners to the genre because it wasn’t as overwhelming in terms of world building and lore as some of the other ones out there. It was a wonderful start to a new series and this story has a lot of potential going forward. Seasoned fantasy fans are sure to enjoy this book and I would highly recommend it!

Dark Rise releases on September 28th, 2021.

Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.

Other reviews in this series:


20 thoughts on “Dark Rise – C. S. Pacat – ARC Review

  1. readandreviewit1 September 13, 2021 / 1:26 pm

    Great review! I love that you mentioned how all of the characters’ roles were turned on their head, and how amazing the ending was. I have some very mixed feelings when it comes to fantasy but I might give this one a go despite the pacing. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jodie | That Happy Reader September 13, 2021 / 2:31 pm

    Isn’t it wonderful when you read a book, love it and then find out it’s the first in a series! I’m not one for fantasy, but I’m certainly happy you enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Macey @ Brine and Books September 13, 2021 / 3:13 pm

    This sounds so intriguing! I love that it’s 19th century london, but then a whole fantasy world as well. The concept of the stewards reminds me of LOTR, that’s pretty cool x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Claire Mac (@ClaireMacBlog) September 14, 2021 / 11:01 am

    Fantasy isn’t really my genre when it comes to books, but I love that you were surprised by the ending. I love a good twist! I also really love discovering new authors, so I’m really glad this one sparked something for you,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 24hr.YABookBlog September 19, 2021 / 10:40 pm

    Fantastic review Raji, I’m so excited for this one! I love that the characters have lots of layers to them and aren’t what you expect in the beginning. Its great to see that the world stands on its own while having a specific setting established. Can’t wait to dive into this!🙌🎉

    Liked by 1 person

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