‘Give The Dark My Love’ by Beth Revis was perfect for my black soul.
Synopsis: When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her. All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life – and the lives of the rest of the island – on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague. Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners – and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.
I’m going to start with Grey first because despite him having his own POV chapters, he wasn’t that integral to the storyline. I think the only reason why we have his POV, is to show us and outsiders perspective of Nedra and her actions. He seemed a good enough love interest for Nedra but there was no chemistry or shared interest between the two of them at all and felt forced at points. Nedra, is one determined character. She shows plenty of dedication and bravery throughout the story and her strength and ability to carry on is something I wholeheartedly admire. She becomes quite a complex character, especially by the end.
This book was dark. And I mean, very dark. There are plenty of themes that could distress some readers (animal cruelty, incurable diseases and cancers, amputation and death of loved ones) so that really needs to be taken into account regarding recommendations but I don’t believe the author was callous in her representation of these triggers. It’s essentially a precautionary tale of getting in over your head and not being able to come back from the decisions you’ve made. Nedra is much like Eve in this respect. She is offered the tools to her own demise without fully realising/comprehending it. There is a piece of Nedra in everyone. If someone told me something was illegal but gave me the knowledge to do it and then told me it could probably save a lot of people from death, I’m pretty sure I would put that knowledge to use. It embodies that quote of ‘the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’.
I think that’s why I was able to connect with Nedra, and the book as a whole. Her initial intentions for excelling in her studies were pure and she put in a lot of hours of her spare time to the cause and I remember wondering ‘what wouldn’t she give/do?’ It seemed an inevitable step that Nedra would willingly go into the darkness considering the events and struggles. I thought at one point that Grey’s influence would be enough to bring her back but it just shows you how seductive power can be. Not necessarily for evil or good, as I think Nedra is definitely the hero of the story despite some of her actions, but just in general. Nedra spoke of the pull of Death at one point, and how she felt the same hunger for it when she was with Grey.
I loved it. I thought it was really well written, the was a fair amount of politics but there wasn’t so much that it bogged the storyline down, which was actually quite refreshing for me. I generally hate anything that resembles ‘Zombies’ however, this was so tastefully done that I wasn’t repulsed. The pace was fairly swift but did lag in some places for me even though I understand a slower pace was needed for dramatic effect later on. I really hope there is a sequel to this, even though if felt like a standalone, I don’t want to leave this story behind just yet.
“Fear welled up inside me, and I wasn’t sure if I was more afraid for her, or of her.”
I received this in Shelflove’s September ‘Life In The Shadows’ box.
You can get it here