Young Tom Anderson hid under the bed, listening while his beloved grandmother was brutally murdered. Growing up, he cherished the secret his grandmother left in his care: a strange blue book written in an unknown language relating heroic tales of the valiant Erstürmen. When Tom finds himself unwillingly transported to the Erstürmen land of Enthilen, it is—and is not—what the blue book described. To survive in Enthilen and avenge his grandmother’s death, Tom must find strength he doesn’t believe he has and must rely on friendships with strange new beings. What summoned him to Enthilen, and why? The answers are tied up with a shadowy force stalking the broad lands of the corrupted kingdom.
The depth of G. W. Lücke’s characters in WHEN DARKNESS DESCENDS make a compelling story far richer. The debased, paranoid King Ewald; loyal, brave Grinnian stone-grell; the guarded Dobunni rebel Athalee; Dwarrow, the worldly mouldewerp—each and all are committed to the fate they have chosen to follow. Their choices drive the well-crafted plot. Especially satisfying: Lücke invests great attention in secondary characters, notably captive Princess Caeli, the smitten blacksmith’s daughter Rosalie Barron, and Jurelle, the Dobunni turned king’s general. Lücke was obliged to let this tale build over decades. That slow evolution may have helped make Enthilen such a fine, complex world. Yes, there is the obligatory map and the varied landscapes; but also, Enthilen has language, religion and a multivalent history its inhabitants see each in their own way. Lücke reveals this new world slowly to Tom, which masterfully brings readers close to the strange and dramatic land.
WHEN DARKNESS DESCENDS has a gripping plot—although there are two instances of sadistic violence that may jar some readers. Graphic violence may be necessary to any piece of fiction, but it can overwhelm. In two scenes, the precise depravity may be shocking enough to wrench readers out of the book’s hypnotic spell. This is a small criticism. on the whole, the story is excellently told.
G. W. Lücke’s WHEN DARKNESS DESCENDS is an engrossing addition to the high fantasy catalogue. Lücke’s characters have a vivid energy; the land and people of Enthilen are illuminated with care and detail, and the plot runs at a tight, satisfying pace.
~Ellen Graham for IndieReader