Darkborn is the first book of a trilogy written by Canadian, Alison Sinclair. I found this book doing one of my favourite things: whiling away an hour or an afternoon haunting second hand book shops or the bargain sections of Chapters-Indigo stores. I travel the isles book-by-book, waiting for something to catch my eye. For some chance-met gem that I wouldn’t necessarily have tried at full price. I’ve discovered some of my most loved authors that way. But what are the keys to piquing a reader’s interest? Before I tell you about the book, why don’t I explain that. First and foremost, you need a great cover. It should be interesting, beautiful, ornate or plain, but always original. Hopefully it is indicative of what’s inside. Darkborn features an unnaturally beautiful woman on it, (cover art by Melanie Delon) but hat in itself didn’t attract me to the book; it was the fine detail on the gown. Those few seconds meant that I stopped to read what was on the cover and the back jacket. Intrigued I had my first find for the day. So what happened when I took it home? How was the actual book?
What a lovely discovery I have found in Alison Sinclair. Her elegantly told tale of two races, literally diametrically opposed by their inability to handle the other’s surroundings (for the Darkborn light is deadly and for the Lightborn the opposite is true) drew me in from the very beginning. For me, it brought the traditional duality of story-telling to a whole new level. Sinclair has even created the perfectly enemy in the Shadowborn, a third race that can dwell in light or dark but is constrained by neither. At least that’s what I gather about them since little is known of them although much is rumoured. When you begin the novel, you’ll find yourself trapped (much like Telmaine, one of the main characters) in a rigid society that seems to be caught somewhere between the time of courtly love and Victorian England. It is a society of manners and propriety where appearances are of tantamount importance and are valued even above the truth. Well-paced, Darkborn tells a tale that kept me furiously turning pages right until the very end.
As a first foray into Fantasy (her previous novels being in the Sci-Fi category) I found Darkborn wonderfully original. The “sonn” of the darkborn, a form of echolocation to compensate for the blindness of their race, reminded me of the way Ben Affleck’s senses were expressed in his Daredevil role. At least that’s the way it translated into my imagination; I find myself wondering what Sinclair’s inspiration was for that element of the story. Curious? Click here to find out how Sinclair answered that question and a few others.
I was rather irked at myself over the weekend because I finished the book on Saturday afternoon (thanks to some heavy rains in the morning I decided it was the perfect time to stay in bed late and read) and several times that day found myself looking forward to continuing the story…which meant reminding myself that for me, for now, the story was over. It’s so deflating; you can see how that would annoy a person. It is with a wonderful sense of anticipation that I will this week (hopefully) find time to go to a bookstore or the library and continue the saga. If you are a lover of Fantasy or Sci-Fi or just looking to give it a try, I highly recommend Darkborn. Keep checking back for my reviews of the subsequent books in the series, the last of which is due out this year.
With that, you have my literary 2¢ for today.