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By James Wood

IR Rating:
James Wood's THE EBON KNIGHT is a captivating dark fantasy with palpable tension, elements of horror, and a sweet (if stock) forbidden romance.
IR Approved
In the first installment of The Ebon Knight Chronicles, Dark and Light are in perpetual conflict as an exiled princess and a loyal knight battle a powerful emerging threat.

In James Wood’s THE EBON KNIGHT, the main narrator is a disgraced Knight of the Light named Kelso Hart who has an ancient sword that yells at him. Meanwhile, exiled Dark Princess Ava Petran has loyal, mythical Furies at her disposal. Ava doesn’t use them like flying monkeys, though; instead she cares for them, and they for her. This tenderness is rare for a Dark Princess who harnesses a great power referred to as “her Dark,” which grants her the ability to summon shadows, increase her strength, remove her impulse control, and more. What’s scarier is that, as the youngest princess, Ava’s Dark pales in comparison to her sadistic family’s. Her Dark combined with Kelso’s Light may not be enough to stop them.

Wood excels at building a vibrant, captivating fantasy world that is layered on top of our own and at times inspires both awe and fear. Most prominently, the Dark and Light warriors hold such power that unleashing it near unpowered humans has the potential to cause massive casualties. This dynamic creates an urban fantasy setting dripping with tension, as the powerful Dark and Light are juxtaposed with fragile, powerless, ordinary people.

Heart-pounding action is met with equally strong humor, from Kelso and Ava’s banter to the canine character Charlie, who is based on the author’s own pet. Joy and fear blend together nicely, with Ava’s dark humor complementing the harsh situations she and Kelso find themselves in. From the start, Ava’s cavalier taunts contrast sharply with Kelso’s noble stoicism, creating epic, tension-filled banter. At one point Kelso says, “I’ll make you a deal. Give country [music] a chance, and I’ll stop it with the short jokes.” Ava responds, “How about you stop it with the short jokes before I kneecap you down to my level?” Especially funny is Kelso’s cursed sword, Argenta, who heckles him incessantly with comments like this: “If a wimp and a coward had a baby, that baby would be you. How embarrassing.”

Both protagonists are complicated, each facing exile, and each still trying to do what’s right in spite of that. Kelso and Ava each evoke a desire to protect the other, which slowly transforms into a sweet, star-crossed romance. Despite the familiar Romeo-and-Juliet trope, Kelso’s and Ava’s unique circumstances grant them a remarkable bond, wherein “[h]is dying would hurt her. Kelso was not sure how badly, but any hurt suffered by her that was his doing was intolerable.” Stock or not, their love for each other is deep, true, and ultimately compelling.

James Wood’s THE EBON KNIGHT is a captivating dark fantasy with palpable tension, elements of horror, and a sweet (if stock) forbidden romance.

~Leah Block for IndieReader

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