Jen reviews Given to Darkness, the second book in Phil Williams‘ Ikiri duology, the sequel to Kept From Cages we reviewed before.
A huge thank you to Phil Williams for the ARC and apologies for the lengthy wait in me getting this read and reviewed.
|Series: Ikiri #2
|Date of Publishing: October 19, 2021
|Trigger Warnings: gore, violence, mass madness
|Page count: 309
Ikiri demands blood. Whose will it be?
A malevolent force stirs from the heart of the Congo. One child can stop it – but everyone wants her dead.
Reece Coburn’s gang have travelled half the world to protect Zipporah, only to find her in more danger than ever. Her violent father is missing, his murderous enemies are coming for them, and her brother’s power is growing stronger. Entire communities are being slaughtered, and it’s only getting worse.
They have to reach Ikiri before its corruption spreads. But there’s a long journey ahead, past ferocious killers and unnatural creatures – and very few people can be trusted along the way.
Can two criminal musicians, an unstable assassin and a compromised spy reach Ikiri alive? What will it cost them along the way?
Pick up this exciting conclusion to the Ikiri duology today, for a supernatural thriller that will keep you hooked right to the finish
“Suffer,” the voice repeated, more nasty, pointed. The leaves around her wilted, going quickly brown. Leigh-Ann backed up fast, the rot spreading like it might catch her. She turned and found the passage blocked not ten yards back, a tangle of broken logs and vines hanging across it. She turned again and found another passage, a new route that hadn’t been there before. She jogged into it as the dying.
Picking a song for this held me up for a good two weeks but finally I decided that since Kat was my favourite she could have the whole song.
Nightmare by Halsey
Given to Darkness was supposed to be my final read of 2021 but I ended up sick about half-way through and had to put it on hold for a couple of weeks, so it also has the pleasure of being my first read of 2022, as well.
Warning: this review contains spoilers for the first book, so proceed with caution!
Jumping into the story immediately following the aftermath of the last book, we find Trask and co. licking their wounds and planning their next step in their quest to reunite Zip with her mom, deep in the Congo, and hopefully put a stop to the Ikiri and the darkness that is seeping into the world.
Kept From Cages was a lot of fun and its thriller-type pacing had me burning through the pages. Given to Darkness is no different in that way – it’s still fast fun with some genuinely creepy and occasionally horrifying scenes. But the darker parts of the story are balanced with splashes of humour and more occasions of the all-important downtime that gives our main players a chance to get to know one another before they risk it all for each other.
Williams’ scene-setting is crisp and clear – building our surroundings with ease but, knowing when to draw the line, letting our minds do some of the heavy-lifting and more importantly, our senses. The groundwork is there and with the little nudges he gives, that dawning sense of dread and build of fear is much more potent.
I think that is what makes some of the best horrors. It’s a skill of Williams‘ writing that caught my attention back when I read The City Screams (still a favourite of mine). Outside of the unique stories in his world of Ordshaw, a lot of why I keep coming back to his work is for that creepy mysterious atmosphere he builds into them with such ease.
One thing I enjoyed in Kept From Cages was the interplay between the characters (especially Reece and Zip but also Task and Kat) and friendships that grew out of that story. Their concern for each other, and for a child they didn’t know (and one that comes with a lot of scary baggage) was a highlight for me.
This time around the family connection extends to not just Zip and her newly ‘found family’ but also to Task and Kat and others, deepening those relationships that we only touched on in the last story and making each of their decisions and the consequences that much more impactful for them and us.
I couldn’t have picked a better book to usher out a new year and begin another because this final book of this quick-paced duology is just the right blend of supernatural horror and exciting action, bound together with friendships, lessons in compassion, and most of all, family. Given to Darkness is a quick and enjoyable read that is a deeper well than you’d expect from the genre and well-worth jumping into this branch of the Ordshaw Universe and seeing what it’s all about.
I’m sorry, but Kat steals the show, every page she appears on. I loved her.