Review: A Wicked Kind of Dark by Jonathan K. Benton

Title: A Wicked Kind of Dark{The Minaea Chronicles #1}

Author: Jonathan K. Benton

Published: Odyssey Books September 2013

Status: Read from September 12 to 13, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

A Wicked Kind of Dark is a debut urban fantasy novel and the first in a planned series named The Minaea Chronicles. Author Jonathan K. Benton introduces eighteen year old Robert Duncan, who as a child was badly hurt in a fall and lost six months of his memory, a period he calls the Winter of No Content. Robert has always wondered about the mysterious gap, then a static filled phone call, a portrait of a somehow familiar flame haired woman and graffiti appearing all over London referring to the coming ‘blood moon’ triggers the unraveling of his childhood secrets and reveals the kingdom of Minaea.

The real world setting is divided between modern day London, where Robert currently lives, and rural Scotland where he spent his childhood. It was in Scotland that Robert met Luthien, a young girl who became his best friend as they played in nearby castle ruins imagining a fantastic world they named Minaea. Luthien was presumed to have died in the same accident that injured Robert but the recent events in London seem to suggest otherwise.

Benton’s fantasy world, Minaea, is heavily influenced by Tolkien, and I wonder if A Wicked Kind of Dark began as some kind of fan fiction. There are several direct references to the novel but also evident parallels combined with the author’s own touches. One of these is the concept of ‘twin souls’, Robert and Luthien are paired with Minaea’s Lord and Lady of the Light – Rafael Lae (The Sparkling Man) and Tala Lae, and they need each other to fight the demon Jakal’s evil plan to destroy Minaea and invade Earth.

A strength of the story is its social conscience element regarding homelessness. Robert, in his quest for answers, becomes involved in a London Soup Kitchen with people whose lives have been changed by an encounter with The Sparkling Man.

Primarily where the novel doesn’t quite work for me is that I felt A Wicked Kind of Dark seemed more like a MG (middle grade) fantasy later edited in an attempt to expand its appeal to a more mature young adult audience and I think the story is weakened as a result. It was just an okay read for me.

Available to Purchase From

Odyssey Bookstore I Amazon US I Amazon UK I Book Depository

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