Title: From Darkness to Darkness (Loka Legends #2)
Author: Jay Bell
Publisher: Self Published
Length: 101,045 words
Genre: m/m Young Adult Fantasy
Heat: 1 – None
Sex Frequency: 1 – Sweet/None
Keywords/Tags: Series, Magic, Zombies!
Rating: Really Liked It
From the cradle to the grave…
The Black Oligarch is dead. Some call his replacement a boy, others call him a threat. Cole lost everything the night he became Oligarch: his family, his home… even Jonah. Now he’s alone, left only with painful memories and the power to destroy the Five Lands.
When Dylan is sent to help Cole, he finds they have more in common than expected. They hope to build a new life together, but dark forces have other plans for them. The dead are rising, bringing secrets from the past that threaten to change their lives forever. Can Dylan guide a young man through the darkness and protect those he loves without making the ultimate sacrifice?
By chance I happened to read the first Loka book, The Cat in the Cradle at just the right time. I read it as part of a TBR Pile Purge a few weeks ago, not knowing the sequel would come out in less than a month. It is serendipitous that it was so, because these last few weeks, until I found out that From Darkness to Darkness was indeed about to be released, I’ve been bemoaning the fact that I loved the first book so much and I’d have to wait who knows how long to read more of this wonderful story. The m/m gods must have been on my side (side note: I’d love to meet those guys … or gals! yes, they’re probably women).
I started reading this book the minute it came in the mail, yes the mail (artwork + this world & author = 100% faith in a good book). I was fully prepared to be a bit disappointed; the first book has a firm ending and I was afraid, with the blurb talking about a new character that the old gang would be relegated to a small part. That wasn’t the case, and Dylan had just as hard of a time staying out of things as he did the first time around. He comes to visit the new Black Oligarch, a young man of 16. The Black Oligarch is the master of death, both immortal while possessing the loka and able to kill with a thought. It is a dark power, uniquely suited to those who know pain and death and the bringer of it. And the young Oligarch, Cole, is definitely damaged; seeing his whole village, family, and his best friend and love Jonah brought down by corpse sludge has brought out a dangerous darkness within him, making him a fierce weapon who in his desperation will be easy to manipulate.
Fans of the first book will definitely want to read this sequel and will be pleased. It is a little grown up in all ways — the author has grown, the characters are wiser after all they’ve gone through, and Cole is darker than any character we’ve met so far. His presence and the differing reactions the characters have to the events of the first book, bring out a side of several of them that we didn’t see in the first book. Where the first book introduced us to the Five Lands and the Oligarchy in a light and bright adventure of discovery and intrigue, this story is muted. The first book celebrated that adventure, but in Darkness their travels are solely part of the mission to end the evil they seek to understand and end. The stakes are higher this time around, which is a sobering thought, especially with the knowledge of what it takes to make it to the end alive.
Though the circumstances are different, the theme of inner darkness is developed here just as it was in the first book. In The Cat in the Cradle, Tyjinn is forced to simply confront that aspect of himself in one moment that really matters (to the plot, anyway). In this sequel, it is a part of Cole’s story and his choices from the beginning to the end. He’s constantly conflicted and shows his age and lack of experience after losing Jonah, who made most of his decisions for him. His characterization is given much more time and effort, comparing and contrasting nicely to both the sides of “good” and “evil” in the story, until the lines are blurred enough for Cole to have to make serious considerations about himself and the others.
This group takes several different directions at a few points, in geography and plot. I found a couple of them to be somewhat tangental and therefore made the story lose a little focus. Sadly, one of my favorite parts of the book felt this way — when Kio finally finds out where he’s from and returns home. Not only did this feel out of keeping with the important parts of the rest of the story, but I wished for more time for the situation to resolve. As it was, that particular point of the story seemed resolved a little quickly. This made the whole feel a little disorganized, with a few bumps in the forward momentum.
Mostly, this just makes me want to read the first book all over again — then this one, and once more around just for shits and giggles. This author has a fan for life, and like a very few series (i.e. Harry Potter), I could read these over and over and never get tired of them. I hope that there are many more stories in this series to come. It would be a shame for the series to end here. I urge everyone to read this and tell everyone how much you love it (and you will), so that the author has every reason to continue the series again and again.