The Dark World
By: Cara Lynn Shultz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 27th, 2014
Paige Kelly is used to weird–in fact, she probably corners the market on weird, considering that her best friend, Dottie, has been dead since the 1950s. But when a fire demon attacks Paige in detention, she has to admit that things have gotten out of her league. Luckily, the cute new boy in school, Logan Bradley, is a practiced demon slayer-and he isn’t fazed by Paige’s propensity to chat with the dead. Suddenly, Paige is smack in the middle of a centuries-old battle between warlocks and demons, learning to fight with a magic sword so that she can defend herself. And if she makes one wrong move, she’ll be pulled into the Dark World, an alternate version of our world that’s overrun by demons-and she might never make it home.
In terms of YA and the market that produces it, this is an older book. However, the fact that I still remember it, and fondly, should be a testament to its quality: The Dark World is a most excellent read and the fact that it doesn’t have a sequel (and then another book after that, but let’s not get carried away) and that Cara hasn’t written anything since is truly a loss.
In my recent reading rut, I’ve gone back and done a lot of re-reading. There is probably some in depth psychological nugget I could learn about myself by overanalyzing that fact, but, for now, let’s put it down to I like what I like and I’m sentimental and also it’s hard to move on from books that you like even if they just stick in brain as “that book with the chick who could talk to ghosts and the quality love interest.”
So, let’s talk about The Dark World, because that’s what you showed up for. We start with Paige and her best friend Dottie, who is a ghost and actually Paige’s only friend since Paige has a habit of talking to people that no one else can see and, as one would expect, that can set the rumour mill rolling. Paige keeps to herself and her life on the periphery of the school social construct was something that was painfully familiar to me. She is a witty and sassy character who doesn’t take her peers’ shit, or at least let anyone see that it gets to her, and I loved her for it. Her relationship with Dottie is sweet and I loved that it started with Paige mistaking her for an ostracized and upset classmate and how her first instinct was to protect her, to check on her. And I adore that Dot, after so long being alone, gets somewhat of a happy ending and how Paige supports her in it. In addition the beautiful friendship with Dot, Paige’s parents are not only BOTH alive, but they are present and active in Paige’s life. They have concerns about their daughter and her mental state and they talk to her and worry over her and are recognizable as parents and as their own individual characters.
Then we have Logan. Protective and sweet and simultaneously cocky and self conscious, Logan is an excellent love interest. He and Paige dance around each other for awhile, but not so long that the adorable-ness ebbs and it’s frustrating. These two have a relatively slow burn relationship, the book takes place over several months, and I liked how their relationship and trust grew. There was drama, but Paige and Logan discussed their problems and faced them head on and didn’t avoid them to spite each other.
And the plot? I loved how the concept of The Dark World grew, I loved Paige’s role in it and how she wasn’t something super duper special, but what she was unwittingly capable of was rare and she was a target because of it. I liked how the realm of the paranormal was introduced and then built on, how Paige’s ability to see ghosts was explained: her ability to see ghosts was a symptom of a much bigger world.
The only issue with this book is that it ends on (only a slight) cliff hanger and there is no resolution in sight. I think the rest of the book is good enough to read and stand on its own, but it is deeply painful to not have more of Logan and Paige and to not know what would have happened to them. Upon finishing The Dark World, even though they are stuck in a perilous situation, you know that these two will have a happy ending. But I really miss not learning the details, and I really hope that, one day, Cara will grace us with more of Logan and Paige’s story.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.