This review is based on a complimentary book I received from Author, M.A. Kassel. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.The Dark Companions by M.A. Kassel
Genres: Fantasy, young adult
Release Date: January 11, 2017
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Source: Author, M.A. Kassel
Purchase at: Amazon
For the children of Ursyca, sleeping with a monster under their bed is no scary fantasy but the harsh reality…
To honor the ancients’ pact, every kid must live with a creature lurking in the shadows. A dark companion, coming straight from the abyss, that will feed on their fears and nightmares.
It is the rule. It is the law.
For most families, that means avoiding any traumatic experiences. It is the only way to keep their beast starved and ensure that, on their sixteenth birthday, the youths can take control of it and do not get eaten alive.
Sid doesn’t have such a choice anymore. He needs to become a powerful Subduer to save his sister Eyleen from the terrible fate that awaits her. That’s why the young ore digger subjects himself to the worst horrors. That’s why he spends his every waking hour looking for pain and misery. However, when the fateful day arrives and he gets ready for his showdown, something goes awfully wrong. And so begins the race against time.
Sid will have to leave his village and seek help, but it’s a tough and dangerous world out there. With Count Kalderan set on conquering the world and killing every Subduer to assert his power… And his power-mad sons looking to make their mark in this world… Will Sid be able to come back in time to save his sister?
Let’s start by saying that this story involves children but I do not think it is meant for young readers. Heck, maybe not even some teens. It is a dark fantasy and the characters are not interested in good versus evil. There is very little good. Even the main character of Sid is not wholly good. I did however truly appreciate his love for his sister. The entire plot about children being born with a dark companion was well explained and thought through. There is even a twist regarding control of the dark companions that I thought added some excitement.
There are actually two main characters who are looking to subdue their dark companions but for very different reasons. Jeremiah is the overlooked son of Count Kalderan and he wants to prove to everyone that he has what it takes to be the one calling the shots. He wants his chance to rule and he is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals, even if it means torturing himself daily. Sid’s character is only concerned with his sister. He has always felt that he was her protector and unfortunately his protective nature is also why she is tormented with nightmares. In an effort to try and undo the damage he has caused, he subjects himself to self-torture so that he may battle her dark companion and win. If he does not win then she is lost and he cannot allow that to happen.
Jeremiah and Sid’s stories are separate with completely different agendas and do not intersect at the start. Both boys have plans that are not achieved in the manner in which they intended. It is this conflict that leads to both Jeremiah and Sid having to go beyond their original goals and find new solutions. Absolutely added interest to this story because it brought in other characters that became integral to the success of the main characters. I enjoyed the character of Zee, she was a bit unpredictable and added humor. She was the perfect sidekick character. In the end, everyone comes together and must set aside their own agendas in order to conquer the true villain who was a nightmare for one boy and a once hero to the other.
This story starts off strong with a very unique plot and realized protagonists. I am partially torn on this story. On one side it is nice to have a main character who does not turn into a super hero after a third of the book. The flip side to this is that you have a character who does little in the way of development. It is written perfectly for young adult as there are typical fantasy tropes used throughout this story. It helped to maintain the plot but the tropes did not turn into clichés. I think they were used to give familiarity to young readers. I think this is a very successful debut fantasy novel and will be an exciting read to dark fantasy readers.
*Thank you to M.A. Kassel for this complimentary copy of The Dark Companions*