Darkness Hidden (The Name of the Blade #2)
July 3rd 2014
In the electrifying second volume of Zoë Marriott's The Name of the Blade Trilogy, Mio, Jack and Shinobu have defeated the terrifying Nekomata against all odds, and brought Jack's sister home alive.
But Mio is still compelled to protect the katana, her family's ancestral sword, and now the Underworld has spawned a worse monster – one carrying a devastating plague that sweeps through London like wildfire.
As Mio struggles to protect the city and control the sword’s deadly powers, she realises that this time there is no way she can keep everyone she loves alive... and she must make a terrible sacrifice to save the world.
I love Zoe Marriott's books, and even though The Night Itself wasn't my absolute favourite of her books (seriously, they're all great. She's one of the most underrated authors in my opinion and more people need to read her books), I have been eagerly anticipating reading the sequel. And it did not disappoint. It had all the action and drama that the first book had in bucketloads and built even more on the mythology of this world which was awesome.
The first book only took place over the span of a day, so I was glad that Darkness Hidden covered a slightly longer span of time, without losing the pace of the first. One of my favourite things about this book was that, because it starts almost immediately after the first, there was a kind of seamless transition between the two books. I get the feeling like this series is going to feel more like one story told in three volumes, rather than as three books that are completely separate entities in themselves. Which I guess is kind of what you expect with trilogies, really... But still. I think that getting the chance to read all three books in a row when the third, Frail Mortal Heart (how great is that title?!), comes out next summer and read Mio's story in it's entirety will really benefit the story as a whole. Not that I'm saying you should wait until all three books are out to read them, because this series is really great and you should probably get on that now.
Also, because the book does pick up where the first left off, a significant part of the story and characters arcs is directly related to the events of the first book. Depending on the nature of a series, it does sometimes annoy me when a book picks up months where the one before left off, and the ramifications of the events of the previous book are only sort of touched upon, but I just really love stories which explore consequences. And Darkness Hidden really does explore the consequences of the events of The Night Itself, weaving them effortlessly into the plot of the book as they're all so necessary to the story.
Which takes me onto my absolute favourite thing about Darkness Hidden: the characters. I already knew that I liked the characters from the first book, obviously, but I love what Zoe Marriott is willing to do with these characters, truly showing how the events of the first book have affected them, and how things are changing them into something other than who they were at the start, even if the story so far has only covered a few days. The Mio we met at the beginning at The Night Itself is so different from the Mio we know now. I adore her relationship with the katana, which is probably the central relationship in the story regarding its importance to the plot. The katana has this real power over her which is just increasing over time and presents a real situation for Mio as it's such a twisted, unhealthy relationship that she just can't quit. I'll be really interested to see how this turns out in the last book, and getting to see it explored further. I also loved Rachel in this book. I mean, she literally went through a kind of physical change, and again I just love the risks that Zoe will take with characters, what she puts them through, not to make them seem likeable, but to make them seem difficult and complex and real. In all of her books, she does really great character arcs (you know character arcs are my favourite thing ever), and it just shows even more now in this series, and I'm very excited to see where they go next, especially after that ending!
And yes, the ending was amazing. It wasn't the ending I was expecting when I started the book, and even though it may have brought a tear to my eye, I think it was absolutely the right way for the book to end. Frail Mortal Heart is going to be such a great book, I can tell, because that ending is going to have a massive effect on where the characters are at emotionally in the next book. I want to talk about it more but I don't want to spoil you. Just take my word for it, guys.
Darkness Hidden is a great sequel that takes the story to the next level, and it has all the things you want in an urban fantasy. Awesome mythology, check. Great characters, check. Breakneck pace and lots of action, check and check. Just read this series. Please.