YA Weekend: Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Book 2 of Midnight Thief
Publisher: Disney Hyperion (8/4/15)
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Full disclosure: I was a beta reader for an earlier draft of Daughter of Dusk last fall. This is my review of the ARC which has changed so much since then; it always amazes and thrills me to no end to see the process of a book coming together, so I would like to thank author Livia Blackburne for the opportunity.
Daughter of Dusk is the sequel to Midnight Thief, the novel that first introduced us to the protagonist Kyra of Forge and her world of assassins, thieves and shapeshifting Demon Riders. Since the events of the last novel, Kyra has learned the truth of her heritage. Only those closest to her know her secret, including her close ally Tristam Brancel the former Palace Knight. But there is another who knows, one who Kyra fears she cannot trust. James, the ex-leader of the Assassins Guild is now in custody and behind bars, but what’s stopping him from selling out Kyra to buy his own freedom?
Meanwhile, Demon Riders continue to raid the surrounding villages of Forge, and suddenly Kyra finds herself in the unique position to do something about it. Angered by the ineffectual methods of the city’s council to protect their own people and the corruption in its ranks, she is driven to do something desperate and extreme. Torn between two worlds, Kyra now must decide how far she is willing to go to save Forge and prepare for the biggest battle of her life.
Daughter of Dusk is the next big step for Kyra. In the first book she was the young and naïve thief who simply looked after herself and her own, without much care for matters outside her own sphere of existence. In this sequel, however, her eyes have been opened. No longer is she ignorant of her own identity and power, and she’s discovered herself and what matters to her. The difference is very noticeable; Kyra takes initiative and makes a lot of her own decisions in this book, a far cry from the girl in Midnight Thief who was manipulated and led around by the older, craftier and more experienced James.
Even though not all her decisions are the best, there’s no doubt Kyra is the one calling a lot of the shots in this book. As a result, I think Daughter of Dusk has a more mature and overall darker vibe, especially when the plot drives Kyra to do some rather unsavory things. I mentioned in my review of Midnight Thief that it felt like that book was skewed towards younger audiences, specifically the upper Middle Grade range. In contrast, I don’t think I can say the same for this second book, which is more suitably Young Adult. There was a huge change in the story here from when I did the beta read, a choice that I think makes a lot more sense given how it better explains the motivation behind some of Kyra’s more drastic, brutal actions. There were also some twists that surprised me just as much as they did the first time around.
In addition, I liked that there was no true romance arc, so if that’s what you’re looking for in your YA, you’ll probably end up disappointed. In this case, I personally felt the understated love story elements actually helped rather than hindered the story. One of the reasons I enjoyed Tristam’s character so much is because of his down-to-earth nature and the fact neither he nor Kyra sidetracked the events of the novel (too much) with needless dramatics, though there was still the requisite arranged marriage plot point to throw a wrench in the works. Nevertheless, the absence of a full-blown love triangle makes me breathe a sigh of relief.
Overall, I found this sequel just as enjoyable as book one. There were some predictable parts, but in general there were more unexpected twists in book two. Compared to the earlier version I saw of this novel, the author has also really polished up the story, even if the ending remained slightly rushed and tied up a little too neatly. Despite these minor flaws though, this second volume did a great job developing its protagonist. Kyra truly came into her own in Daughter of Dusk, and it was a pleasure to experience her story. All told, Daughter of Dusk combined a good balance of action and fantasy to deliver a worthy conclusion.