Darkfall by Janice Hardy – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

War has come.

Nya’s the one who brought it. And the people love her for it.

With Baseer in shambles and Geveg now an impenetrable military stronghold, Nya and the Underground have fled to a safer location—without Tali. Nya is guilt-ridden over leaving her sister behind and vows to find her, but with the rebellion in full swing and refugees flooding the Three Territories, she fears she never will.

The Duke, desperate to reclaim the throne as his own, has rallied his powerful army. And they are on the move, destroying anyone who gets in the way.

To save her sister, her family, and her people, Nya needs to stay ahead of the Duke’s army and find a way to build one of her own. Past hurts must be healed, past wrongs must be righted, and Nya must decide: Is she merely a pawn in the rebellion, a symbol of hope—or is she ready to be a hero?

You can read an excerpt here.


On the one hand, I think this series is criminally underrated – but on the other, I can’t help but wish that every book in this trilogy was as good as the first (The Shifter). Still, Darkfall is a solid conclusion to the Healing Wars trilogy, and a highly readable, fast paced fantasy adventure – but I just wish it had a bit more depth and emotional heft.

Darkfall is certainly an entertaining read, as Nya sets off on another non-stop adventure, but I did find myself wistfully thinking back to The Shifter more than once. What The Shifter did so well was force Nya to make tough moral choices about how and when to use her strange magical abilities – but in Darkfall, Nya’s power is almost old hat, and though she discovers new ways to use it, it comes to the rescue with rather predictable regularity. It just felt like her magic was always the answer, and that answer always came a little too easily. Hardy did set up another interesting moral question this time, in how Nya has to choose between protecting the people she loves or fighting a war and possibly getting them all killed, but I felt like Nya’s ultimate choice was somewhat a foregone conclusion. I liked her emotional struggle with it, particularly as her sister becomes such a painful reminder of the cost of fighting back, but it just felt like guilt instead of Nya being genuinely torn. I never really believed she would ever take option B.

Still, I liked how the Duke’s army loomed large in this story, and how Nya returns to Geveg, the city where this trilogy began. Yes, things did fall into Nya’s path far too conveniently at times, but there is always something very satisfying in a David and Goliath confrontation, and it was fun to watch Nya bemusedly become a symbol as much as a weapon. And you can certainly never accuse Hardy of slow pacing!

Nya herself remains a wonderful heroine – stubborn, caring, and reckless – but she was moving so quickly through this story that her emotional development never really fully came through. I liked the shape of what was going on, but it all slid by so fast that it didn’t have the chance to land. It was like a punch that was just off target because it was thrown too fast.

Still, there continues to be a lot about this series that I like enormously – the voice, the world building, the sleek pace and non-stop action – and reading these books is effortless, but I just find myself wishing for more. In the end, this story feels like an action movie – entertaining, but light on emotional heft – perfect for when you’re in the mood for a fun popcorn read. And I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what Hardy comes up with next.

Byrt Grade: B+

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Kirkus Reviews says:

A conflicted, complex heroine to the end, Nya anguishes over the potential pain and death she will trigger to preserve what she loves. Though lacking some of the punch and rapid-fire excitement of the first two volumes, the finale offers suspense, resolution of prior wrongs, the sweetness of first love and a battle-tested heroine who fights with her head and heart.