Luca Vero is a member of the secret Order of Darkness, tasked with searching out and reporting signs of the end of the world. Breaking his journey in Piccolo, he finds a place filled with superstitious fears: of the unknown, of the forces of the sea and sky, of strangers. With him are his loyal friend and servant, Frieze, and his clerk, Brother Peter, as well as the Lady Isolde and her mysterious servant-companion Ishraq. The five of them are followed into the town by a huge children’s crusade, led by a self-proclaimed saint. Its young leader promises that the sea will part before them, and allow them to walk dry-shod all the way to Jerusalem. Luca and Lady Isolde are swept up in the growing excitement; but something dangerous is brewing far out to sea…
The second installment in the Order of Darkness sees our five travelers find a little fishing village called Piccolo. When a children’s crusade sweeps into the village, led by the young Johann, Luca is compelled to investigate if the boy is truly a prophet or if he is leading people into danger.
Understandably being a YA novel with young characters you’re going to get some teenage-y emotions spilling over but I found some of the developments in this volume becoming slightly formulaic, over-complicating the plot. Pleasingly though, there is a greater exploration of the young quartet’s characters in this volume, especially the female leads. The budding romances aside, the examination of grief and each character’s own experiences give some more complexity to the story.
This volume has a much darker tone than the first installment, Gregory has illustrated the dangers of blind faith and superstition, a culture where knowledge is suppressed and fate is always placed in the hands of one’s God, and where questions can earn you the title of heretic. The pacing is good, as usual, and the story interesting, with the introduction of some promising new characters and a nice twist at the conclusion.
“This is not faith. This is longing, a very different thing.”
With thanks to Simon and Schuster for the review copy.
Visit the Order of Darkness website.