Not too long ago, I reviewed Searching for Darkness, the first installment of indie author Leah Ward’s thrilling fantasy/adventure series. I enjoyed the way Ward wove fantasy elements with a dystopian/semi-post-apocalyptic setting, and I thought she did an amazing job writing the book so that it was easy to pick up and read on the fly. However, I found that the book had its fair share of shortcomings such as the occasional grammar mistake and the somewhat cliched protagonist. Regardless, I thought Searching for Darkness was a fun read, and I was excited to dig into the next installment, Chasing the Darkness.
A quick recap of the first book: Edwin is an orphaned boy living in a time when the Earth has been ravaged by a magic curse (courtesy of a dark spell book aptly named Darkness). Edwin discovers that he is a Seer, a being in possession of magical powers that not only allow him to “see” things others cannot, but also lets him conjure fire and ice with his bare hands. Edwin teams up with a fellow orphan named Lena, and together, they manage to destroy Darkness and its master, the evil sorcerer Nefarious.
Chasing the Darkness takes place shortly after the first book. Edwin and Lena, now living together, discover that, although they defeated Nefarious and Darkness, there is still a dark magic out there somewhere, and it’s up to them to stop it. They set off on yet another adventure to find the true dark sorcerer once they realize Nefarious was simply a pawn.
I found Edwin pretty stock in the first book of the series, and unfortunately, I didn’t notice too much of a change in this one. He’s still very average. It’s a shame he’s the primary character when Lena is far more interesting and, to me, better developed. I applaud Ward for giving Lena more background in Chasing the Darkness. We catch glimpses of her jotting down notes in her personal diary, giving us a play-by-play of what she’s thinking and feeling. It’d be nice if we could get something like that for Edwin as well in the future.
Edwin and Lena aren’t alone in their journey this time. Now, they’re joined by Charles, a quirky yet adept wizard with an in-depth knowledge of the world before the curse. The team also meets Lanthor, a funny little creature who offers some comic relief, but also manages to be quite the hero when the situation calls for it. And we can’t forget Satiya the dragon (another one of my favorite characters), who returns in this installment to support Edwin and his companions.
I mentioned last time that I wanted to learn more about the world within the series. I’d love to hear all about the Earth and what happened to it after the curse hit. We know that there is virtually no modern technology left, but what else? Ward struck gold by combining magic with the sort-of post-apocalyptic vibe; it’d be great to see her run with it and develop an entire setting beyond what we’ve read so far. Sorry, I’m a huge fan of world-building and I can get a bit carried away.
One big advantage this book had over its predecessor is the illustrations. There are about five or six different hand-drawn images within the book, and they all look outstanding! It always helps to have a picture to go along with the text, especially for his book’s target reading audience. The only tiny issue I had was that the images appeared a bit sporadically. I’d prefer a little more consistency, like a picture at the beginning or end of each chapter.
Another thing I liked about Chasing the Darkness was the intense climax and ending. We eventually get to meet the Big Bad of the book (and there’s a nice little twist that is bound to catch you off guard). Unfortunately, I can’t say much about this primary villain since it could give away the twist. All I can say is that I hope they make a reappearance in a future book.
There’s also a fantastic cliffhanger that has me very excited for the sequel. I seriously had chills reading the last sentence of the book, and I actually found myself saying, “No! You can’t leave us hanging like that!” While Searching for Darkness had a good ending, Chasing the Darkness‘s conclusion beat it by a long shot.
Despite how much I liked the book, I still have my share of criticism. Once again, there’s the issue of grammar mistakes every few pages. I also noticed instances where the perspective changed from third-person to first-person, and then right back. Luckily, these errors weren’t enough to seriously damper my enthusiasm. At the same time, I feel like there are more critical readers who may have issues with the tiny mistakes.
Although it’s written for a middle-grade audience, I consider Chasing the Darkness a good (and quick) read for anyone no matter what age. If you want a new entry for your fantasy novel collection, you should give this series a chance.
Final Rating: 3.5/5
Head on over to Leah Ward’s website at http://www.leahwardauthor.com and grab a copy of Chasing the Darkness today!