Paranormal Young Adult
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)Mysterious lights have flickered above Crownsville for as long as Mia can remember. And as far as she’s concerned, that’s about the only interesting thing to happen in her small town.
That is, until Sol arrives. Mia’s not one to fall for just any guy, but she can’t get Sol—or the brilliant tattoo on his back—out of her mind.
Then Mia’s brother goes missing, and Mia’s convinced that Sol knows more than he’s sharing. But getting closer to Sol means reevaluating everything Mia once believed to be true. Because Sol’s not who Mia thought he was—and neither is she.
MY THOUGHTSThe Dark Light is a grand, sweeping story that not only shares with us the journey from normal to paranormal for one young woman, but also shows us just how rich an imagination Ms. Walsh possesses. Reading Mia’s tale is like opening a box of the finest chocolates only to find the printed guideline telling us what's beneath each light or dark coating is missing – we sink our teeth into the story after the first few chapters confident we have at least a general knowledge of what’s waiting for us in the coming pages, but we quickly discover our confidence misplaced and our expectations completely and delightfully derailed. We as readers are proverbial Dorothys wandering into Oz, common elements like a new boy at school with a mysterious past and a possible love triangle lulling us into a sense of enjoyable familiarity before Ms. Walsh literally and figuratively shows us the light and changes the game entirely.
Mia is a beautifully flawed heroine, possessing traits that both earn our admiration when her actions at times belie her young seventeen years, as well as our utter frustration when her behavior serves only to reinforce them. She’s fiercely protective of her younger brother Jay, so much so that she often wants to leap into the fray to come to his aid before taking just a few brief moments to evaluate her situation and come to the realization that her course of action will only result in failure. Despite her love for her brother overwhelming her common sense on occasion, she’s someone with an easy sense of humor and ability to adapt to strange situations and revelations without crumbling, earning our respect page by page as she does everything in her power to keep those around her safe. She’s often an impediment on her journey with Sol rather than an asset, but instead of that being a drawback to the story, it’s something we can’t help but appreciate as she becomes our anchor of normalcy in a fantastical setting.
As the story itself goes an unexpected route, so too does the romance. Initially, Ms. Walsh sets us up with a dynamic we’ve seen on numerous occasions before, with a young woman’s attention split between a longtime crush and the stunning new guy with a potentially dark past, but to our relief the triangle shape quickly topples, leaving behind the beautiful simplicity of a single line that has Mia on one end and Sol standing opposite her. Their chemistry isn’t necessarily blistering, but there’s plenty of tension thrumming between them to keep us intrigued, and we contentedly revel in the fact that our expectations of typical young adult clichés are slowly being ripped away as Ms. Walsh lovingly sets us on new and welcome ground.
There are a few mild complaints with the story overall, namely a fairly quick and seemingly easy showdown with the villain as well as a lack of background for Sol once we learn more about who he is, but we’re so caught up in characters and creativity these issues are but minor blips on our enjoyment radar. The ending is nicely resolved but the door is definitely left open a crack, and we read the last page with the sincere hope that Ms. Walsh is not going to let us walk out of this world and never return.