A character-driven tale of siblings, blood-magic, and dark beginnings.
What sparked my interest right away about this book is Herzman’s approach to the story itself. This is a sprawling world, with multiple continents, oceans, islands, rulers, and lots of history. But when we start the book, we know nothing about any of that. And it stays like that for some time.
We see the world through three siblings, aged 19, 15, and 12. The story begins, when they’re woken in the middle of the night to find out that their small village has been invaded by raiders and set aflame. What would you do? We dive right into the action, but since we’re seeing the world through the children’s perspectives, we experience the fear and newness of the situation; we don’t know what’s going on, and we have little knowledge of what happens outside our village that we’ve never left. So the story starts small. But as it develops, the world opens up to us through these children and their experiences. There’s no long-winded or forced exposition dumps. It’s a natural education for all three POVs, and it paints the world in believable ways.
Unfortunately, those ways are rough going. One discovers how blood mages gain power through enslavement firsthand. It’s not how you want to spend a Friday night. Another sibling is determined to find what is lost, and chooses the path of wisdom through the powers of nature. The third sibling discovers their power by the sword, the seas, and the soul. The supporting characters all have pasts and motivations and goals of their own, and there’s plenty of big mysteries to reveal.
Herzman’s prose is similar to Brandon Sanderson. He delivers concise and direct sentences that get the job done. Its lean tone makes for a highly digestible read, often leading to numerous one-more-chapter-okay-maybe-two-more late nights. The build-ups towards chapter cliffhangers come early and often, and the rotation between the three POVs are consistent, so if you want to know what happens next, you’ll have to read three more chapters to find out. It’s a sneaky, but reliable dig at the reader to keep them stuck to the pages. It worked.
One issue that stuck out was that a number of reveals were projected pretty far out, or were easily predicted. Some big ones were a nice surprise, but I think some re-wording and less mentions of certain elements earlier in the story might have a more successful impact of certain events when they dropped. It didn’t take away too much enjoyment from the story, but it did linger a bit after it was over. I also hoped the ending played out in a different direction, but I’m glad this was only book one of a series.
A Dark Inheritance is not a story that will subvert any tropes or carve out many new ideas in the genre. However, what it does set out to do, it does it very well. I had a great time reading this story; I was fully engaged with the plot and loved all three characters, each having distinct personalities where it seemed like they actually acted their age. The more I read books with younger POVs, the less common I find this to be, so I commend Herzman for a fine job of pulling me into this new world. I look forward to seeing how the next chapter is going to play out. You should get on board, and find out, too.
Review by Adam Weller
8/10 from 1 reviews
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