Review: Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

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Cover image from Goodreads

 

Knights of the Borrowed Dark

Dave Rudden

PenguinRandomhouse, 2016

Fantasy/Adventure, 10+

Denizen Hardwick is an orphan with no information about his origins. He loves reading about heroes, but he certainly doesn’t want to be one. When he is whisked away from Crosscaper Orphanage to meet an aunt he didn’t know existed, Denizen finds himself deep in a shadowy and dangerous world, more terrifying that anything he has ever imagined. Denizen must decide whether he will join the Knights who fight against the Tenebrous, monsters that emerge from the darkness. The Knights wield great power, but this power comes at a terrible cost…

Looking back, it had been a mistake to fill the orphanage with books.

I was hooked from the very first line of this book. The narrative voice is wonderful – just a touch of wryness, and vivid descriptions of the settings. Knights of the Borrowed Dark is an exciting read with a magic and a mythology that has been cleverly and carefully crafted. The world Rudden has created is rich and compelling, with The Cost being a particularly  striking feature of the magic. The monsters are spine-crawlingly creepy. The Clockwork Three are  unique and memorable creations, each terrifying in their own way. Personally, I thought the woman in white was the scariest, and I defy any reader not to shudder when they read the section that begins:

The woman in white was eating light bulbs.

Denizen is a bookish hero that young readers will easily identify with. He is quite an anxious character, and is understandably reluctant to dive into this dangerous new world. He’d much rather read about it instead. Denizen is not a natural hero, and this makes his bravery all the more impressive. He choses to be courageous, to join in the fight against the darkness. He is also wonderfully snarky and has a whole collection of frowns.

The No.13 Questioning Frown was replaced by the No.8 – the I Am Missing Something Important Here, Which Is Unfair Because It Concerns Me.

There is a whole host of wonderful supporting characters. One of my favourites was Darcie, the seer of the group, but all the Knights had intriguing back stories and added to the tale. There is a lot of darkness and violence in this book, but ultimately Rudden shows how with courage, darkness can be overcome.

Rudden is a wonderful addition to the realm of children’s literature, and I know that fans of Rick Riordan, JK Rowling and Derek Landy will love Knights of the Borrowed Dark. This is a cracking fantasy adventure that readers young and old will enjoy.  I can’t wait for the sequel.

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