The Brilliant Dark
Author: S.M. Beiko
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: ECW Press
Source: ECW Press
The highly anticipated final instalment in Beiko’s thrilling YA fantasy trilogy
It’s been seven years since the Denziens, an unseen people with elemental powers, were unmasked, and seven years since Roan Harken and Eli Rathgar disappeared into the Brilliant Dark.
Marked by Darklings and Death alike, Saskia is a mechanically minded Mundane, raised by Barton and Phae on daring stories about Roan Harken. But the world Roan left behind is in turmoil. The Darklings now hang in the sky as a threatening black moon, and with the order-maintaining Elemental Task Guard looking to get rid of all Denziens before they rebel, Saskia’s only option is to go into the Brilliant Dark and bring Roan back.
But nothing is ever that simple.
The Brilliant Dark is the final, thrilling chapter in this series about gods, monsters, and the people who must decide if they’re willing to pay the ultimate price to protect the family they found . . . in a world that may not be worthy of saving. (Goodreads)
*I received an advance copy of this book from ECW Press for this blog tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion.*
This is a series I’m so fully emotionally invested in I couldn’t say no to a chance to be a part of this tour. Before I start squealing, you can find my review for The Scion of the Fox here and Children of the Bloodlands here. I love the set up of the lore and magic systems and the characters are very good at tugging on my feels. Also, make sure you scroll all the way through as S.M. Beiko was kind enough to write an incredibly interesting guest post to share along with my review!
I was super hype when The Brilliant Dark showed up in front of my door because of how things were left at the end of Children of the Bloodlands. Because of the aforementioned events, we don’t start this book with Roan like we have in the past. Instead we get to dive more into Saskia, who we met as one of the children of the bloodlands in the last book. It was strange no longer focusing on a Denzien as the main character but I really liked Saskia a lot. She’s hard-headed, a little too daring for her own good, a bit of an emotional mess, and a lot of a badass. Starting the finale of a series with so few of my main loves from the first few books had me a little worried about not connecting as strongly as before but I got sucked right back in as if I’d known Saskia from page one of The Realms of Ancient trilogy.
This novel felt slower-moving at first that the previous instalment as all the groundwork was laid down for our new hero and her journey but once I got into the meat of it things picked up very quickly. I found the building of Saskia as a character and how S.M. Beiko fleshed her out to be so interesting that the slower start didn’t bother me at all.
The scenes where Roan and Eli are brought back made me so happy because I didn’t want to go most of a book with out seeing my little beans at all. Without giving too much away, the land they end up is simultaneously terrifying and thrilling. Here we dive even more into the lore and the gods of the Denziens which, as evidenced by previous reviews, I AM HERE FOR.
If you haven’t read The Realms of Ancient series, I recommend that you scurry to your nearest retailer or eBook store of choice and buy them all. Now. Then cancel any plans you may have for the next while and just binge the series in the comfort of a blanket burrito.
The Visual vs. The Intangible
I was an artist before I was a writer.
Definitely the typical ‘drawing on walls/any surface’ type, I began telling stories in crayon and finger paints. My first exposure to fantastical worlds was through books, then film and television, and not only did I crave more, I wanted to make the things I was seeing, which led me to wanting to make my own stories.
I was very into American animation as well as anime (I still am!) and graphic storytelling such as comics. Sailor Moon is my visual keystone, as well as Saturday morning cartoons, Disney, the usual. I eventually graduated from drawing on the walls to drawing on paper, in sketchbooks, and the more I did the more I was encouraged. When I drew, all that contemplative time spent meticulously sketching or colouring wasn’t necessarily on the process of drawing; rather, I was thinking about the stories behind the scenes I was drawing, or the characters. This became my basis for writing books, really.
I would draw characters over and over, in different costumes, working on facial expressions, asking myself questions about who they were and developing their backstories as I did so. Then I would do extensive research, and draw the things I was researching. If I could see the work visually on the page, it actualized the story there and then, the intangible thing in my head, as something real, something I could touch.
But then, I realized, visual story telling is…inefficient. I say this as someone creating a weekly comic right now. When I say inefficient, I mean I was impatient. I wanted to tell the story NOW, and unfortunately all the drawing, colouring, finishing—it takes a lot of time to show even a short scene, and then the content gets devoured very quickly.
With writing, I could get the story out there with words instead of with crayons. To me, the medium changed, but I was doing the same thing; telling a story. When I tell story with the words as the medium, I’m not being as direct as the visual of course. Mainly because the action of reading a story happens in the head of the reader, which is a unique experience for everyone, whereas art happens on a page, and people see it and parse it more or less the same. Far more direct, not as much room for interpretation as a written story. But I felt connected to both, and even as I put art aside (it was my original University major) for writing, I still came back to it when I wanted to ‘see’ what a character looked like outside of the prose.
In fact, for more than a decade, I gave up on art. I have spent my entire life wanting to make a comic, but the further away I got from art, from drawing, the more I felt it was impossible. Then I realized that the advice I give writers all the time—you just have to write to be a writer!—was a tad hypocritical if I wasn’t following it myself.
I picked up drawing again last Fall, knowing that if I was going to improve at it I needed to practice. Nearly a year later now, and I’m creating a weekly webcomic on my own (called Krampus is My Boyfriend!), a definite departure from telling big, complex stories that can span decades, now focusing more on small captured moments frame by frame. I’m also working on a new novel, but when I’m stuck, I take a break and draw the characters of that novel so I can get into their headspace.
Overall, novel or comic, the medium may be different, but I’m still telling stories, and that’s something that won’t ever change.