Review: A New Darkness by Joseph Delaney

Posted September 3, 2014 by Jessica in Fantasy, Jessica, Reviews, Young Adult / 31 Comments

Review: A New Darkness by Joseph Delaney
A New Darkness by Joseph Delaney
Series: The Starblade Chronicles #1
Published by Greenwillow Books
Published on: September 2 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
One StarOne Star
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A chilling new trilogy from the author of the internationally bestselling The Last Apprentice series! Tom Ward is an apprentice no longer—now he is a fully fledged spook battling boggarts, witches, and other creatures of the dark. This three-book arc will introduce brand-new readers to Joseph Delaney’s haunting world, and delight longtime fans.

Tom Ward is the spook, the one person who can defend the county from ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, witches, and other bloodthirsty creatures of the dark. But he’s only seventeen, and his apprenticeship was cut short when his master died in battle. No one trusts Tom’s skill, not till he’s proven himself. And a fifteen-year-old girl named Jenny knows more about the three mysterious deaths in the county than Tom does. She is a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and she wants to be Tom’s first apprentice—even though a female spook is unheard of. Together, Tom and Jenny will uncover the grave danger heading straight toward the county, and they’ll team up with a witch assassin to confront it.

A New Darkness begins a three-book series that will introduce new readers to Joseph Delaney’s deliciously scary imagination and delight his longtime fans. A New Darkness is perfect for every reader who loves thrills, chills, action, and adventure-no prior knowledge of the Last Apprentice series necessary! 

The Last Apprentice series, the first internationally bestselling series about Tom Ward, is soon to be a major motion picture, Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou, and Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin.


When I saw this book available for review, I leapt at it. I’ve been meaning to start Delaney’s The Last Apprentice series forever, but was, once again, daunted by the number of installments (13, not including the various bonus stories).

In A New Darkness, I thought I’d found the perfect solution—I’d get to see what all the Delaney fuss was about without having to commit to another long-running series.

I was so very, very wrong.

I know I don’t pay enough attention to blurbs. It’s a problem, and I own it. But this time . . . this time, I’m almost positive that I did read it, b/c I specifically didn’t want to request A New Darkness if it was a continuation of the previous series (b/c OCD).

Whatever. The current, just-before-publication blurb, clearly states that it is, in fact,  a continuation, but that no prior knowledge is necessary to read and understand this book. And maybe that’s true . . . I’m not sure if what I was feeling while I was reading this was confusion or frustration, b/c whether I needed to have read The Last Apprentice was kind of irrelevant to me . . . b/c I wanted to have read it.

Half of the book was throwbacks/mentions/this-one-times from the other series, and while we were given enough information for it to make sense, it was painfully obvious that there was more going on that was flying right over our heads.

I don’t like feeling ignorant. I would even go so far as to say that I HATE feeling ignorant.

I felt ignorant the entire time I was reading this book.

So that was a problem. Another problem was that I felt like I was reading an historical accounting of the events in the book . . . but in realtime? Which was strange . . . but the feeling made more sense when right before the first POV change, a point was made by the character that they were writing everything down in a journal.

But while, in theory, reading someone’s journal may sound highly entertaining and full of juicy tidbits, in reality . . . unless you know the person incredibly well (your sister, your girlfriend, etc.) . . . it’s really not.

As for the characters, not only did I feel like I didn’t know them very well, but I didn’t particularly like them either. I’m guessing that Tom Ward is the last apprentice, and Grimalkin seems like an immensely interesting character, but yeah . . . in this one book . . . not enough development to make a lasting impression. And without context, Grimalkin just comes across as the scheming, manipulative witch that Jenny fears she is. Jenny . . . I initially liked her, but as the story progressed, she became more and more judgmental, and more and more surly. She badgered Tom into taking her on as his apprentice, but then she does nothing but second guess him, and complain about his instruction.

And the new enemy . . . this is a personal peeve of mine, so it probably won’t bother you unless you share my peeve, but I’ve never been a big fan of humanized animals as characters.

And it probably has something to do with going to see Guardians of the Galaxy a couple of weeks ago, but when this “new darkness” was on the page, all I could see in my head was an evil version of Rocket. I think the Kobalos are supposed to be more wolf or fox-like, but yeah . . . Rocket. *shrugs* Even if I could force myself to see beyond that, I’d still be seeing something pretty awful:


Any WoW players out there? Say hello to your friendly neighborhood kobold. *shudders*

And don’t even get me started on that cliffhanger. I wasn’t even that invested in the story, and I wanted to throttle someone.

So yeah . . . if you’re a longtime fan of the series, I’m sure A New Darkness is an excellent addition to your well-loved world. But if you’re thinking of using this book to take the easy road to exploring the widespread fascination with Joseph Delaney . . . you might want to think again.

Jessica Signature

One StarOne Star

My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.


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31 responses to “Review: A New Darkness by Joseph Delaney

  1. Ah yes I tend to do that as well. Not read the synopsis when I saw the book or when I love the cover and if I see it’s a book 1 I take it and sometimes well I have some surprises. I’m sorry it wasn’t as good as you thought. It’s difficult when it’s like that with the characters… Thanks for the review, I didn’t know this one.

  2. What happened to you with this book happened to me with another series. I started a book thinking it was a new series and it wasn’t. I was completely lost and didn’t know why. Later I learned the book I was reading was part of a series. *headdesk*
    I really hate when blurbs are misleading and make you lose your time in a book you wouldn’t had read otherwise.
    Thank you for the honest review.
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Review: The Moment of Everything by Shelly King

  3. You know what? When I was younger in my high school days I REALLY LOVED reading journalistic books. But as I got older, I realised it really wasn’t that interesting because it is filled with a lot of mundane thoughts and happenings that you don’t really care about. That’s pretty much how you described reading this book, and it seems like you need to be really invested in the characters so you know what you are in for. lovely review Jessica!
    Jeann recently posted…Blog Tour & Review: Cooper Bartholomew Is Dead by Rebecca James

  4. I had no idea this was a continuation of the author’s other series! Actually, I had no idea this book even existed until earlier today lol. I remember reading the Last Apprentice series ages ago (possibly late primary school/early high school) and I think I enjoyed it…? It’s been a while, so I can’t really remember anything about it, not gonna lie.

    Also, the not reading blurbs thing- I totally do it too. I’d say 90% of the time, I don’t read blurbs. Or I’ll read it really briefly and add the book to my TBR, so by the time I get around to reading it, I’ve forgotten the blurb haha. I like to go into books blind 😛
    Nara recently posted…Flailage: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

  5. It sucks that the book tells you that you that you don’t need to read the other series but from what it looks like, it will be a much better experience when you do. It’s like watching the Veronica Mars movie without having watched the series. Yes, there’s a few recap here and there but it just won’t be the same. I’m sorry this didn’t work for you Jessica, maybe if you’ve read the other series you will change your mind…but 13 books…I can totally understand the hesitation! You read so many long series as it is!

    Oh BTW, off topic, I had to skip the 5th book of Guild Hunter since I’m still on hold in the library but I loved Legion 😀 Love love love Elena and Raphael!
    Amir recently posted…Final Update: Read ALL THE BOOKS (+ PH Giveaway)

  6. Anonymous  

    Awe, I hope you that you like the previous series . Tnx for the review , Jessica . I’m 1/2 the way trough book 3 of the last apprentice .^_^

  7. Well, since I do really not have the energy to invest myself in a spin-off series that will make me wish I had read a 13 books long previous series, I’m gonna be staying well away from this one!

    I really really hate when in a new series there are waaaay too many references to a previous series… I can understand hints and winks at the fans of the other series, but it’s a sure way to alienate new people coming into it, and not everyone will want to read the previous series and might end up peeved enough to stop reading any previous series or upcoming sequels!

    Thank you for making me very much sure on my choice, Jessica!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #58!!

  8. Yeah, I really don’t like feeling ignorant either Jessica. I’m sometimes enjoy being confused while reading, when that confusion is purposeful and an intentional part of the story, but I definitely don’t like to be made to feel as though I’m just not getting something. Add the cliffhanger on top of that and I’m going to take a pass on this one I think! Thanks for your thoughts:):)

  9. Actually, I have issues with antropomorphized animals in books as well. Rarely, but very rarely does it work for me. When you add to that all the other grievances you had with this book, I think I’ll stay away. and who on Earth likes feeling ignorant? No, thank you.

  10. I know I keep saying 3 stars is not a bad rating, but with the huge amount of books published I’m becoming very selective, although I will still read or listen to one when I see things that didn’t work for reviewer but might not bother me. In this case I think I’d feel the same way you did 🙁
    Nice cover tho.
    Lupdilup recently posted…Unborn Audiobook by Amber Lynn Natusch (Review)

  11. “I felt ignorant the entire time I was reading this book.”

    I hate that too. That’s why I’m so anal about reading in order, even if they’re companion novels. I don’t want to be left out of even the smallest quip. lol.

    That sucks though. I says in the blurb a chance for brand-new readers, so they it should’ve made to feel new.
    Christy recently posted…Fall of Night by Jonathan Maberry

  12. I’m actually areally big fan of going blindly into a book. Sometimes there winners and sometimes they aren’t. So I know what you mean about this one. I feel terrible that you felt ignored throughout the entire book, yeah that’s never fun. I want to emotionally invest in abook and be engaged throughout reading. If i’m not than something is serouisly wrong.
    Lily recently posted…Deeper(Caroline & West #1):Review

  13. Eh. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one, Jessica. Like you, I’ve been wanting to read his other series, but I’m daunted by the number of books. But if you felt prior knowledge was needed, I think I’d feel that way too. And besides, Asma doesn’t really like the writing style, and I’m really skeptical now! Thanks for the honest review 🙂
    Hafsah recently posted…What’s Next (#118) — A Twyning Darkness of Passages

  14. It really upsets me when 1) a blurb isn’t indicative of what the book is really about and 2) when a blurb says you can read a book as a standalone when it really makes the reading experience better if you’ve read the series…UGH! Well, I’ll be sure to skip this one until I read Delaney’s first series.

  15. Jess1

    It’s so misleading about the blurb saying no prior knowledge needed of the other series. I would feel like you so frustrated in reading the book.