Knights of the Borrowed Dark
Knights of the Borrowed Dark book #1
UK Publisher: Puffin
Denizen Hardwick is an orhapn, and his life is, well, normal. Sure, in storybooks orphans are rescued from drudgery when they discover they are a wizard or a warrior or a prophesied king. But this is real life—orphans are just kids without parents. At least that’s what Denizen thought…
On a particularly dark night, the gates of Crosscaper Orphanage open to a car that almost growls with power. The car and the man in it retrieve Denizen with the promise of introducing him to a long-lost aunt. But on this ride into the city, they are attacked. Denizen soon learns that monsters can grow out of the shadows. And there is an ancient order of knights who keep them at bay.
Denizen has a unique connection to these knights, but everything they tell him feels like a half-truth. If Denizen joins the order, is he fulfilling his destiny, or turning his back on everything his family did to keep him alive?
This was a wonderful debut novel, full of fantasy, fighting, action and adventure—it is a book that will easily be enjoyed by both boys and girls alike.
When eleven-year-old Denizen Hardwick receives a letter to say he will be spending the weekend with a long lost aunt, he is instantly suspicious. Having spent nearly all his life in Crosscaper, a bleak orphanage along the Irish coast, Denizen knows that outside of storybooks, relatives don’t just turn up out of the blue. Not without a reason.
So when he and his aunt’s driver are attacked on the road, set upon by a hideous monster, Denizen eyes are opened to world he never he never even knew existed. A world his parents were determined to keep from. Because Denizen is the descendant of knights, knights tasked with battling back the creatures of darkness. But the knights numbers are dwindling, and now Denizen must make a choice. To join the fight as his ancestry demands, or return to the orphanage, and pretend the world is not on the brink of destruction…
There were so many things I loved about this book. It's vivid settings, the engaging plot, a cast of diverse and interesting characters. This story had it all, but what really grabbed me was the sheer fantasy behind the evil creatures. Shadows composing bodies from whatever earthly material at their disposal—I thought that was genius and it read really well.
Ultimately going into the book, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I guessed there would be a secret society (and there was) and some fighting of evil monsters (there was plenty of that too) yet ‘Knights of the Borrowed Dark’ was different to anything I’ve read before. Not only were the bad guys unique, but Denizen read exactly as what the blurb portrayed him. A normal boy who suddenly found himself in the middle of a not normal situation.
That really helped make the book for me, as I felt Denizen’s reactions were realistic. He fought hard to achieve his goals, and although he let others into his heart, he maintained his initial independence and didn't go through a total personality change. By that, I mean he was still himself at the end of the book, just a stronger and wiser version.
In terms of the other characters, I enjoyed how they all came with a bit of backstory. I quickly grew attached to them, enough so that I generally worried for each of them during the battle scenes — and this I must really praise the author for. It is rare that I am moved to care about so many people during the course of one book. It normally takes two or three books before my heart will ache for the secondary characters too.
Otherwise the book was also very action packed and had a plot full of feelings. There were pinches of humour, dashes of sadness, plenty or surprise, some thrills and an overall creepy undertone that would send any readers imagination soaring.
All in all, a spectacular debut that will be loved by all ages. 5 Stars!