The follow-up to the excellent, frenetic Beneath the Rising, sees our odd couple (increasingly at-odds couple) Nick and Johnny thrown back together and back into the fray against Them, the vast cosmic horrors seeking to gain entry to our world. In the previous book, the truths behind their tense dynamic — she, the child savant, changing the world daily, burning bright and fast and finite; he, poor, brown and unremarkable, but bound to her, in love with her — was the gravity that kept us connected to a fast-paced adventure horror that sparked and scared in equal measure. Now the full truth of that relationship is out there, and Mohamed rightfully exposes the abuses of power that underpinned it. It’s painful and genuinely toxic. The character development is mature. The crackling dialogue returns. Basically, all the elements that made Beneath the Rising so good are here again, but with the creep show elements ramped up even further. It’s a very good read.
But it’s not as strong as its predecessor, and the dynamic between Nick and Johnny is the abiding issue. With the nature of their connection revealed, but with no breathing space given to its impact, no distance given to process it, and no realistic pathway to develop it, the toxic interactions are frequently distracting. The plot doesn’t let up, which is good, but it leaves the two characters a bit frozen in place and swept along. At times, it’s just wearing.
A Broken Darkness is out from April 1st and available to preorder here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Broken-Darkness-Beneath-Rising-Book/dp/1781088756
An ARC was kindly provided by Rebellion, in return for an honest review.