Knights of the Borrowed Dark
By Dave Rudden
Denizen Hardwick is an orphan living in Crosscaper Orphanage when he receives a note telling him his aunt will be arriving to take him away for a few days. Denizen has never believed in monsters but on the journey to his aunt's Denizen is plunged into a world where he is in no doubt that they exist.
I read a copy of this book on my kindle and I cannot wait to add a copy of this to my bookshelf. I love this kind of book and was really pleased when it lived up to expectations. It was similar in style to Peter. V. Brett’s books which I also enjoy.
The book begins at Crosscaper orphanage built on a cliff in a far corner of Ireland. Director Ackerby runs the orphanage and is sat admiring his collection of ‘beautiful leatherbound works’ and musing on the general uselessness of giving books to orphans. He is pleased that some of his books have never been touched let alone read whereas the books the orphans read have them dreaming of being rescued for their new lives as wizards or kings. He scornfully thinks that if they were wanted then they wouldn’t be there at the orphanage in the first place. Director Ackerby is a thoroughly unlikeable man.
Later on he receives a visit from an unusual man and woman, he knows there is something a little off about them but he cannot figure out what it is.
“For a moment Ackerby wasn’t sure if they were people at all.” The man has eyes that flicker and Ackerby notes that he doesn’t know whether it is harder to look at them or to look away.
The strangers begin asking questions about an orphan named Denizen Hardwick and claim they are distant relations of the boy. They ask if the boy has reached the age of thirteen yet, if anything unusual happened on his thirteenth birthday. They also asked if he had any visitors on his birthday and where they took him. Ackerby is confused by their questions and says that the boy they are talking about turned 13 a few weeks previously without event and that he remains downstairs in the orphanage.
The strangers appear surprised by his answers and leave but not before extracting a promise from him that he will continue to make Crosscaper a place of misery.
Four months later Denizen receives a note from Ackerby stating that he will be going away for a few days with an aunt he didn’t even know he had. Denizen discusses it endlessly with his best friend Simon because since he was abandoned at the orphanage at the age of two he has had no letters or visits from anyone.
“Denizen Hardwick wasn’t the kind of person to believe in special circumstances – in distinguishing freckles or meaningful birthmarks or fortuitous aunts. Denizen Hardwick was a sceptic.” Denizen is one of my favourite protagonists from any book I have read for a long time, he is a character I can really identify with as he Is a huge bookworm.
I loved the authors style of writing as it alternated between suspenseful and humorous.
One of the best things about this book was the strong relationship that exists between Denizen and Simon and the ease with which this was conveyed to the reader. They had been friends since they were three and their beds were next to each other.
“Furtive book trades at night, an inquisitive nature in common and a shared dislike of sports had continued it.”
Denizen is not an open book as a character, in fact he is reluctant to let anyone in. Simon himself feels he wasn’t let in by Denizen as such it was just that he waited him out and gradually he began to open up. On Denizen’s part he finds Simon’s stoic nature soothing
“like the cool side of the pillow.”
Denizen insists he is not looking for any kind of relationship with his aunt, instead all he wants are answers about his parents. So Denizen Is understandably disappointed when his aunt sends someone else to pick him up.
Denizen is understandably nervous about leaving Crosscaper because its gates showed the borders of his childhood
“the beginning and the end of what he knew.”
My absolute favourite character from this book was Graham McCarron, or Grey. A man
“with a smile like a cat burglar.” Grey is the man Denizen’s aunt sends to pick him up from the orphanage.
Denizen has never believed in monsters he is far too sceptical for that. However, that all changes on the journey to his Aunt’s house when a tunnel collapses right in front of them and something emerges from its shadows.
“There was something fundamentally wrong about it, in every line and detail. At moments, it was blurred as if he was looking at it through dirty glass, and at others its shape was painfully sharp. “
Now Denizen uncovers a world beyond anything he has ever heard of, a world where a kind of monster exists in the shadows. A type of creature called the Tenebrous. Denizen discovers his aunt is the head of a secret order destined to fight these creatures. An order called the Knights of the Borrowed Dark and he has the potential to be one. All he has to do is decide whether he wants to be a part of that world or not.
‘seep into this world from a darker place.” Their existence in a place makes everything feel wrong.
In the meanwhile, Denizen has to struggle with the fact that his aunt seems to want nothing to do with him and has barely spoken to him since he arrived in her home.
The Knights know very little of their own heritage as it is shrouded in myth and mystery and out of necessity is very secretive. However, they set about teaching Denizen how to control the inherent powers of those with the potential to become a Knight and a brief description of what being a knight entails.
‘You’ve never heard of our war,’ Grey said quietly. ‘There are no big battles, no flags held proudly, no poems and no heroes. We don’t give speeches. We don’t hold parades. We die alone, or we die in twos and threes, but we always, always die in shadow. Unseen. Unmourned. If our war got into the history books…well, that’s how we’d know we’d lost.”
In the meantime, Simon wakes in the middle of the night to find everyone else in the orphanage is asleep and some strangers have arrived at Crosscaper, strangers who aren’t quite human.
Can Simon escape the strangers? And will Denizen decide to become one of the Knights?
Our Final Rating...
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