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Long Grows the Dark by Catherine Labadie

book cover of Long Grows the Dark

Taste is subjective, and this book definitely won’t please everyone (it spends a lot of time on love triangles and destiny), but I loved it. The story begins hundreds of years in the past, when a group of friends tried and failed to defeat an immortal, powerful spellcaster to prevent the forced marriage of one of their own. In the throes of defeat, they laid the seeds necessary to try the battle again at some point in the future. The majority of the book follows Gwendoline, the reincarnation of one of those friends, as she struggles with carrying out her destiny and also with a similar love triangle to the one that plagued her predecessor.

It’s the kind of story that lives or dies on the strength of its characters, and evidently the good news here is that the characterisation is top-notch. The members of the core group are painfully true to life: pining after people they can’t have, being indecisive, making bad impulsive decisions and regretting them, letting anger get in the way of working together to do what’s necessary… their goals and motivations are often contradictory but so terribly relatable. Of particular note, I think, is the character arc of Everleigh, which was portrayed so well despite her perspective ending up so much at odds with Gwendoline’s. Overall, the characters here were just utterly compelling.

On top of that, the prose was excellent: the battle scenes were tense and exciting, the kissing scenes and sex scenes (non-explicit though they are) were alluring, and for the most part the story unfolded at a great pace (although I might have preferred slightly fewer pages being given over to the love triangle subplot). I’ve spent a long time wishing that New Adult fiction was more of a thing, and now I’ve found this excellent example of it, I’m wishing even harder that it was more of a thing! This was an extremely enjoyable story.

★★★★★

a cartoony avatar of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.