Published: 5th January 2012
Number of Pages: 352
Book: For Review*
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Magical Realism, Thriller, Suspense, Action-Adventure, Gritty Realism, YA
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing, Alcohol and Drug References
Author's Blog: Nick Lake on Simon&Schuster
In Darkness, I count my blessings like Manman taught me.
One: I am alive.
Two: There is no two.
In the aftermath of an earthquake, Sorty lies in the wreckage of a hospital and tries to make sense of everything that has happened.
His experiences as a small-time gangster in Haiti have given him plenty to hink about.
But when his thoughts are interrupted by someone long dead, Shorty’s battle for survival takes him to places he could never have imagined.
A bullet wound, a missing sister and a life of crime become pieces of a far bigger story, and what Shorty discovers in the darkness is just the beginning.
"Life must be paid for with death"
Shorty is trapped in darkness, buried beneath the rubble of the hospital he was in. He is all alone, calling for help, but no one comes. He has already seen enough darkness, enough violence to last anyone a lifetime. Born in Site Soley, the slums of Haiti, a place controlled by gangsters, he has done and seen terrible things. He has killed. He has been killed. He has seen babies abandoned - still alive - in the rubbish. But through it all, through the rubble, he burns with a desire, a need, to find his twin sister, who is the soul that completes his, and who was stolen from him seven years ago. As time goes on, this desire, this flame, burns brighter and brighter - so strong it intertwines with Toussaint l'Ouverture, the slave who led the Haitian revolution, one of the most inspirational and amazing stories of freedom, hope and betrayal, two-hundred years old...
Maybe Shorty isn't as alone in darkness as he thought he was...
I love powerful books, and my God was this powerful. I was hooked from the word go. It was so strong - so strong that "strong" is too weak a word. It was beautiful, heart-wrenching, emotional, horrible, breath-taking, overwhelming, beyond words. I'm still taking it all in, even after all this time. I haven't gotten it out of my head - it's been lodged in there from the first page and has still refused to leave. Of all the books to have made an emotional nest in my head, I am so, so glad it's this one. It's shocking, utterly unique. I can't recommend it enough!
The characters were amazing. Incredible. Shorty… his voice just struck me from the word go. I wondered who he was and what he had done, felt terrible that he was trapped like he was. So many dreadful, dreadful things had happened to him - and so young as well. And as many bad things that he'd done, as much “hate” he felt, even though he was a “chimère” (gangsta), I loved him so, so, so much. And I couldn't hate or blame him for any of the bad things he'd done. Toussaint was a slave and the most amazing man who wanted freedom, but through peace not violence. He was just incredible, the most wonderful leader and the best person.
All the minor characters were as brilliantly padded out as the main characters. I loved getting to know them through Shorty's memories, through Toussaint's. The ones who really stuck out for me were Shorty’s sister Marguerite, who he still idolised after all this time; and Dread Wilmé, a "big dog" gangsta, who actually made the Site better, even if it was by killing and a ruthless hand.
The writing was amazing, stunning. I felt like I was there, trapped with Shorty - God, it was terrible, the sensation of being trapped, buried, alone, surrounded by bodies. I loved how Shorty slipped in words of his own tongue – it made it feel Shorty. And, god, it was so beautiful, so heart-breakingly, horribly beautiful, so emotionally overwhelming. The plot was stunning – I loved seeing how Shorty’s and Toussaint’s stories intertwined, how their minds became one. Incredible. I was just hooked to every word and it was just so marvellously unpredictable.
And I loved the culture: it was so beautiful and vivid. The way Shorty described twins – they were magic, “Marassa”, shared a soul. All the gods were so amazing as well; I loved learning about them all. The zombie part was so fascinating – horrible too, of course! The culture in this book was just so amazing and complex, beautiful and horrible, so vivid and just really, really intrigued me.
I love books based on history and In Darkness was in a whole world of its own. For one, I've never ever read a book about Haiti. Two: this was the most insanely emotional, powerful historical I've ever read - and trust me, I've read so many. But what made this totally unique is how the past intertwined with the present in this most amazing story. In fact, I adored In Darkness so much that "adored" is again not strong enough. In Darkness is just beyond words. It is amazing, so powerful, so emotional. I will never, ever in a million years forget this book.
5 Out of 5
5 Out of 5
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* This book was received from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review