Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Dark Divide by Jennifer Fallon

The Dark Divide by Jennifer Fallon is the second book of the Rift Runners (trilogy, I think). The first book was The Undivided.

This is very much the sort of series where you can’t read book two without having read book one before it. The Dark Divide picks up more or less right where The Undivided left off. I don’t think I can say anything too specific about the plot without spoilers for the first book.

The story mainly follows Ren and Darragh, the Undivided twins, Trasa the half-banshee and Pete the cop who is on the case of the shenanigans the other characters committed in the first book.

I liked The Dark Divide more than The Undivided. When I read the first book, I enjoyed it but I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t as full of twisty intrigue as I have come to expect from Fallon’s books (not that disappointed since I still have it 4.5 stars when I read it). The second book more than makes up for it. Where the first book had to introduce a lot of world-building concepts (faeries, rifts between realities, the magic of the twins’ existence), the second book was much more free to dig deeper into everyone’s motivations. There were a lot of ah-ha! moments and a lot of dawning comprehension as pieces of the puzzle came together.

One of the things I particularly liked was the juxtaposition between fantasy-world values and our world values. As in, often times killing someone for the cause in a fantasy book (in general) is seen as necessary. However, move the act (and the fantasy book character) into our world and a host of problems arise.

Another aspect which I thought was well done was the inclusion of a certain real-world recent-historical event. It was something that could easily have felt tacky but worked because the ordinary consequences were given as much (if not slightly more) weight as the plot-related consequences. Also, history wasn’t rewritten to accommodate the plot; from the characters’ point of view, it was a coincidence that affected them but that they had nothing directly to do with.

This is a very good series and I encourage all lovers of fantasy to give it a go. Since I didn’t talk about anything very specific above, I am also going to include the blurb for The Undivided, to give an idea of where the series is coming from.
The Undivided are divided. The psychic twins, Ronan and Darragh, have been separated by the traitor Druid, Amergin, who has kidnapped Ronan and thrown him through a rift into another reality. Now time is running out for Darragh. If Ronan isn’t found soon, they will both die. But his twin brother is lost in a reality where Druids are legend, and there is no magic. Somehow, before the Autumn Equinox, they must find one young man in a world of six billion people…

Meanwhile, Ren Kavanagh has no notion of where he comes from. He is plagued by strange injuries that appear from nowhere and everyone is convinced he is deliberately harming himself for attention. Then he meets the enticing and mysterious Trasa, and before he can figure out how it happened, he is in serious trouble - arrested for arson and possibly murder.

Rescue will come from a completely unexpected direction. Ren is about to discover more about his origins than he bargained for, meet the twin brother he never knew he had, and discover nobody is what they seem, especially his new friend, the half-faerie, half-human Trasa… Amergin’s daughter.

I also like how the covers match thematically. I look forward to putting them on the same shelf.

And if that wasn’t enough, The Dark Divide also has ninja leprechauns. Seriously. How can anyone resist reading about ninja freaking leprechauns with shuriken?

5 / 5 stars

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