Series: Brilliant Darkness #1
Published by Central Park Books on 2013-11-12
Length: 223 pages
Reviewing eBook from My Book Shelf
Reading Challenges: 2018 Audiobook Challenge, COYER Winter Switch
Seventeen-year-old Groundling, Fennel, is Sightless. She's never been able to see her lush forest home, but she knows its secrets. She knows how the shadows shift when she passes under a canopy of trees. She knows how to hide in the cool, damp caves when the Scourge comes. She knows how devious and arrogant the Groundlings' tree-dwelling neighbors, the Lofties, can be.
And she's always known this day would come—the day she faces the Scourge alone.
The Sightless, like Fenn, are mysteriously protected from the Scourge, the gruesome creatures roaming the forests, reeking of festering flesh and consuming anything—and anyone—living. A Sightless Groundling must brave the Scourge and bring fresh water to the people of the forest. Today, that task becomes Fenn's.
Fenn will have a Lofty Keeper, Peree, as her companion. Everyone knows the Lofties wouldn’t hesitate to shoot an arrow through the back of an unsuspecting Groundling like Fenn, but Peree seems different. A boy with warm, rough hands who smells like summer, he is surprisingly kind and thoughtful. Although Fenn knows his people are treacherous, she finds herself wanting to trust him.
As their forest community teeters on the brink of war, Fenn and Peree must learn to work together to survive the Scourge and ensure their people’s survival. But when Fenn uncovers a secret that shatters her truths, she’s forced to decide who and what to protect—her people, her growing love for Peree, or the elusive dream of lasting peace in the forest.
I forgot how much I love The Scourge by A.G. Henley! I picked up the audiobook to listen to last week and I could not stop listening. I binged it in one day and it was perfection. I first read The Scourge back in 2014 around the time the second book of the series hit shelves. I devoured everything from the series then and waited for the third book. However I somehow missed the release and because it had been so long I wanted to reread. I’m SO glad I did.
The premise of the book is simple. Set in the distant future, people living in a small community are separated by their color and the trees. Fair haired, light eyed humans live in the trees calling themselves Lofties. Dark haired, brown-eyed humans live on the ground and are known as Grounders. Grounders and Lofties have a tense relationship that started when they outgrew their tree top homes and the Grounders were forced to, well, the ground. This wouldn’t be so bad except for the Scourge, the flesh-eaters that roam the land since the fall. Now I know I’m not doing this book justice with my description but that’s the best I can do without spoilers 😉
Now onto the main characters. Fennel is a Grounder and a special one at that. She is Sightless which offers her protection from the Scourge. This makes her important to not only the Grounder community but also the Lofties. Why? When the Scourge arrive, it forces the Grounders to the caves and the Lofties to remain in the trees. This leaves Fennel who is protected to gather water for both communities. It’s a big job and one she has just inherited. The book opens on her first time gathering water and to say it’s a tense read is an understatement. It’s a hold-your-breath kind of read. Fenn is a character I found myself admiring. She’s blind, yet she doesn’t let that stop her from doing what is required of her. I find her brave in the face of adversity and was truly impressed with how she navigates her world.
For every Water Bearer, there is a Keeper and for Fenn that’s Peree, a Lofty who is one of the best archers in their community. I fell for Peree almost instantly. This is a boy who despite his raising sees the strength in Fenn and doesn’t care that she is Grounder. But what really made me fall for him is how he helps her do her job without ever stepping a foot on the ground. He is there above her in the trees, coaching her, telling her stories and shooting down Scourge who get too close. He’s brave, charismatic, and a dreamer.
Now the plot of The Scourge surrounds the fact that the Scourge stick around longer than normal. As a result, Fenn is getting exhausted and water is running out. So Fenn volunteers to search for the mythical waters deep in the caves. Peree naturally sneaks along. But it’s what they find along the way that truly makes the story. I can’t say anymore for fear of spoilers. However I can say how much I enjoyed their journey. Peree and Fenn are very different yet also very compatible. I enjoyed their easy banter and I was thrilled with their adventure. I loved how the author built a dystopian world that is both believable and fantastical. Despite Fenn’s blindness, I felt everything she felt and the imagery as told by someone who cannot see was vivid.
Overall I love The Scourge! This was the first time I had listened to the book and the narrator was fantastic. She drew me in immediately and I found myself holding my breath during the suspenseful moments, laughing aloud at the her sarcasm and even tearing up. I would recommend this book to anyone who joys a good dystopian and a clean YA read.
The Keeper by A.G. Henley
Series: Brilliant Darkness #1.5
Published by Central Park Books on 2013-12-25
Length: 59 pages
Reviewing eBook from My Book Shelf
Reading Challenges: COYER Winter Switch
Peree knows what he’s doing as the new Keeper of the Water Bearer, Fennel.
He knows Fennel’s Sightless. He knows that means the Scourge can’t hurt her while she gathers fresh water for her people. He knows how to wield his bow and arrow to take out the revolting flesh-eaters when they swarm around her. He’ll motivate her, distract her, do anything he can to keep her working. And most important, he'll make sure his people get every drop of their share of the water she collects. Peree knows his duty is to his people and his people alone, and not to the Water Bearer.
What he doesn’t know is that he's falling in love with her.
The Keeper by A.G. Henley is a fantastic snippet into Peree’s POV for those who needed more after The Scourge. Set during the first part of the book and leading up to just before Fenn’s surprise, I found myself falling for the Lofty boy a little more as I read.
Peree is a bit of a mystery at the beginning of the series. I loved seeing his initial meeting with Fenn through his eyes. This is a boy who fell head over heels for a girl who he shouldn’t. And I love that that doesn’t stop him. And his relationship with Shrike is expounded here as well and I felt myself tear up just thinking about how close they seemed.
For Peree being the Keeper means that he must protect the Water Bearer. If he fails his people go without water. The leaders of his community remind him that he isn’t a keeper of the Water Bearer but a keeper for his people. He protects them by ensuring they receive their fair share of the water. This is a concept Peree struggles with. He’s been watching Fenn for years as they’ve grown up, hoping to one day be the Water Bearer and now that he is he finds that he is more concerned with her safety than that of his people. It creates a conundrum for him, one he attempts to find a solution to in this short novella.
Overall I loved having these chapters from Peree’s perspective. I’d always wondered what it was like for him to view Fenn from the safety of his trees while the Scourge surrounds her and well I get my answer here. If you enjoyed the first book of the series, I highly suggest you follow it up with this!