TWILIGHT KINGDOM by H.J. Tolson
Review and Cut by Krystle Matar
On the eve of her 16th birthday, Candle Enys discovers her brother has sold her soul to a demon.
Neglected, unloved, and terrified for her life, Candle flees her family to take her chances in the wild mountains. There in the gloaming, she wanders, stalked by shades and monsters who prowl the half-light, hunting for bodies to steal.
It is only with the kingdom’s army of criminal outcasts that Candle finds solace, however short-lived. Unfortunately for her, in a land where violence is the ultimate sin, war is about to erupt. Foul winds blow, and they reek of death and black powder. Invaders with airships and cannons have arrived on the shores, laying waste to all who stand against their conquest.
With no kin, no magic, and no soul, will Candle find her wings in time to save her home? Or will the Twilight Kingdom fade to dusk?
A dark fantasy with steampunk and horror elements.
Trigger warnings for emotional abuse, some gore.
Twilight Kingdom promises a dark coming of age story, and on that it definitely delivers! The magic was interesting and the demons were delightfully scary. It also hits some familiar and well-loved fantasy themes: a child born different, discarded and unloved by her family, struggling to fit in and meet the expectations set upon her. It’s no spoiler to say her brother is her biggest threat at the beginning of this book, and he seems to be dabbling in dark, forbidden arts, which adds a layer on intrigue.
My failure to connect lies in personal taste; the narrative style prioritizes telling, and exposition is often inserted into the flow of the action, which breaks me out of the immersion. The action itself is often summarized rather than felt, which makes it harder for me personally to fully invest to the characters. Ultimately, I am cutting Twilight Kingdom from SPFBO9.
However, there is still a lot to like in Twilight Kingdom, so if this style of writing works for you, I highly recommend you check it out! Take a look at Goodreads, or hop over to Amazon to grab your copy!