BOOK REVIEW: The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe
The Heir of Night, the first in a four-book series called The Wall of Night, might be an “adult” fantasy novel, but it certainly has wide-ranging appeal. The main character, Malian, is the teenage heir to the House of Night. In the world of Haarth, there are nine houses of a race called the Derai, some allies, some enemies, but all with one common, overarching goal: each of these houses works to defend the Wall, a mountain range that separates the Derai from their mortal enemies, the Swarm of Dark.
Sound complicated? We’ve only just begun. There’s an ancient prophecy that if the House of Night falls, then the Derai will fall. And when the Darkswarm inevitably return, as they do early in the book, they go STRAIGHT for Malian.
The book starts at a quick pace. Lowe doesn’t wait for the reader to catch their breath; she plunges them deep into this world and fills in the blanks as she goes. She also doesn’t baby the reader; she expects them to be able to keep up with all the information and action she throws at them. This makes for an exciting read, but it also can also get a bit confusing. Because things happen and the reader doesn’t exactly understand the background, it’s a good idea to pay close attention. Everything comes together beautifully at certain points, but that can take awhile.
Malian’s a great main character. She’s strong, but most of all, she’s smart. Unlike other teenage princesses (for lack of a better term), she’s not foolhardy or dumb. She doesn’t take unnecessary risks, but she’s very brave when she needs to be. It’s clear that, when the time comes, she’ll make a great Earl of Night. But for now, she’s just a teenager trapped in the middle of cataclysmic events that seem to focus on her. To give her credit, she handles it incredibly well.
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding The Heir of Night, and Lowe writes it well. It’s clear that this world holds deep, dark secrets, and even by the end of the novel, the reader has barely scratched the surface. But Lowe does an impressive job providing the reader with answers. True, those answers just engender more questions, but it means that there’s payoff—the further you read, the more you understand. The world the author has created is magical; yes, parts of it are reminiscent of other fantasy novels (The Wall = Game of Thrones, to start), but Lowe creates her own complex mythology. It’s an absolutely fascinating world, one that readers will enjoy immersing themselves in.
All in all, The Heir of Night is a pretty awesome read. It’s marketed at adults, but it’ll really attract readers of all ages. The second book, The Gathering of the Lost, takes place five years after The Heir of Night, and it’s out now. In fact, it’s a good idea to have it on hand when you finish racing through the first book, as the series is just that addictive. Whether you’re a huge fan of high fantasy or need a book that isn’t too daunting to introduce you to the genre, this may be the perfect read for you.
Have you read The Heir of Night? If you haven't, will you now?