Darkthaw is the sequel to Winterkill, a strange little dystopian that has all the creepy atmosphere and suspense of The Village but with some religion thrown in that rivals the Puritans in The Crucible. If you haven’t read Winterkill, Darkthaw will make very little sense. I’m going to be honest when I say I did read Winterkill, and Darthaw still made very little sense to me. I still gave this book three stars, and really dedicated fans will probably disagree, but this wasn’t my favorite follow up read.
For as long as Emmeline can remember, she’s longed to leave the isolated world of the settlement and explore the wilderness that calls to her in her dreams. And now that the Council has fallen, she will finally, finally get that chance. With First Peoples guide Matisa at her side, Emmeline rallies a brave group to join her on her quest into the unknown, including her beloved Kane and his two younger brothers.
But the journey soon proves far more dangerous than Emmeline anticipated—with warring clans, slavers, colonists, disease, and natural disasters seemingly at every turn. After putting so many lives in danger, she starts to doubt everything she once knew. Did she make the right choice to leave the settlement—and can her relationship with Kane survive the ordeal? Matisa insists that to set things right and to fight the evil that is bringing all this danger and turmoil to the forest, Emmeline must journey to Matisa’s people—even if that means leaving Kane behind.
In all honesty, I feel like the author lost her way in this book. What I enjoyed most about the first book was the mystery of what lies beyond the walls, and it is hard to finally reveal the world beyond that wall and let it live up to what readers built up in their own imaginations. I also found that this book felt a little aimless. What was meant to be an important journey was lost to subplots that didn’t clearly move the story forward, and I struggled to make clear connections with the events and character growth as well. The story became convoluted when too many characters and groups showed up, giving readers little sense of who or what the protagonist was fighting against or for. I think the story would have been much stronger if a clear antagonist had stepped forward instead of four maybe friend/maybe foe groups. There was a bit of the deus ex machina in the climax of the story as well. I don’t think that has to be considered a bad thing, but it added to the feeling that the author wasn’t fully sure where this story was headed. While the resolution did wrap up the journey, I was a little baffled by the last pages, and if can’t see where the series is headed. What I can say is that there was a lot of action, so if that was really what the author was aiming to add to the series, it was a successful ploy. However, I felt like other, more importat elements were sacrificed, and in the end, it felt more like a trail of uncertain horror than a real journey towards a resolution to the series. Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.