“Three friends. Seven years. Countless dangers.”
This book was delightful. I always say fantasy doesn’t appeal to me most of the time, but the last few fantasy books have really exceeded expectations. This YA Fantasy novel is perfect for those just branching out into the world of fantasy books, and has an ideal balance between the real world and a world that is as captivating as is it dangerous… I’m so happy to share my review of The Gloaming with you!
The Gloaming by J.R Schuyler follows Billy, a boy being forced into believing wraiths are the enemy by his father. After an unexpected encounter, Billy finds himself in a whirlwind of new friendships, magic and a potentially dangerous new world. When his friends need him the most, will Billy be able to do what it takes to save lives? He’ll need to fight back, but it won’t be easy…
The style of writing instantly grabbed me from the first page and it quickly became impossible to read a single chapter at a time! Billy Porter’s persona is portrayed incredibly well, and it’s clear he’s going to become quite a lovable character. I was easily placed into his shoes and felt the horrors described, and it even reminded me of being a kid myself. Being transported back in time by simply reading a few pages of words still amazes me! Schuyler has done an amazing job of creating an impressive start to the book, and already, I was confident the rest of the book would follow suit.
I really liked how we are told the story from a narrator’s point of view, but are also given snippets of Billy’s thoughts in first person. This made the story so much more involving for me and it gave us an even better vision of his thought processes. At this point, the story focuses on a monster so terrifying to the neighbourhood that people don’t like to talk about it, and Billy’s fear of this creature is portrayed so well. Between this and clashing with an enemy wraith, each day becomes a terrifying struggle for him. Is this something he’ll be able to grow out of, or will he be forever running in fear?
Billy soon finds himself in the place where he least wants to be; Oilskin Lake, the home of the monster. After a failed attempt at killing it and realising his father’s predictions of the wraiths were correct somehow, he now has to make sense of this new place. He soon learns the identity of the monster and why it seems to be terrorising the people back on land. Things definitely aren’t what they seem on the surface. Billy soon befriends an unlikely character and has the task of fixing his own mistake. I loved how action packed the story was really early on, yet events happen at a great pace. There is never a dull moment!
“Dark shapes flitted behind the curtain, performing an unnatural puppet show.”
The beginning of the book really drew me in in a way that hasn’t been done with many books I’ve read in the past. I couldn’t fault it! YA fantasy has never been a thing of mine, but even at this stage, I was converted. The style of writing, the incredible flow of each chapter into the next and the amount of suspense was quite frankly, unbelievable. Already, I could sense that this book could quickly become a favourite for many in this genre.
As the relationships between Billy and his new friends blossom, he finds himself becoming braver and helping his friends overcome their troubles. The group also find themselves keeping secrets together and fighting against unnecessary discrimination. I really appreciated how topics such as these were approached in the story. It makes things easier to digest and informative for young adults, and helps to educate them (in the right way) in how to deal with a number of issues they could face in the real world.
Things quickly become more magical as we take an inside look into the Gloaming; we witness King Grigoth’s rules and the effects they’re having on the people who reside here, as well as learning that the land is shrinking day by day. If things aren’t handled the right way, then Earth won’t be safe for long. The creation of The Gloaming has been done so well; it’s clear this fictional world has been planned out flawlessly and that the author of this book didn’t stop until every detail had been perfected! Again, the more I read, the more impressed I was with the entire plot.
Even though this wasn’t a significant part of the story by a long shot, I just have to mention the Spyro the Dragon reference, (great choice) and I also enjoyed how the wraiths, even though they live on Earth, still haven’t got to grips with human technologies. We see some humour where one wraith struggles to find the voicemail on his phone, and it made me think of how the older generation struggle with technology in the real world! I really like little details such as these, which make us understand our characters in more detail and what they are like as people.
Billy and his friends go to extreme lengths to find out more information about the scientists at their school, and why they were using pupils as test subjects. It becomes difficult for Billy to make his teachers see sense, and the friends begin to think the teachers have something to do with it too. As different mysteries are unraveled throughout the story, we hear from different points of view. In some scenes, our main character, Billy isn’t even in them, and I loved how we learnt about different things (sometimes the really important things!) before other characters do.
“You want me to abandon everything – my magic, my culture, my people, and my country – to fit in with a society that treats outsiders like dirt?”
When Billy’s brother, Hamish, realises the scientists are carrying out their research once more, a new side story emerges. Hamish works with a new friend to find out more and to hopefully follow in his brother’s footsteps to help the new victims. However, with the blood oath ceremony quickly approaching for Billy’s friends, Billy has much more on his plate, and there is suddenly a lot more at stake. Has their friendship successfully stayed a secret? Will Billy’s friends suffer the worst fate of all? I loved the build up to the end of the story, and I was really curious to see if there’d be a happy ending for our characters, or whether we’d be left in shock with unanswered questions. For their sake, I hoped the magic would be strong enough…
After trying to convince other wraiths to disguise themselves to prevent them from potentially getting killed, Billy’s friends run into trouble. Life becomes more dangerous than it ever has, but they’re determined to stick with their plans, even if it means getting injured in the process. I loved the loyalty of the characters in the book, but the one thing that has struck me as being very unrealistic throughout the story is the age of the children. The characters seem to know and understand a lot more than they should at the ages they are, but I do understand that the book is also a fantasy – I guess anything goes!
Billy gets more than he ever bargained for when he finds himself with no choice but to take a trip to The Gloaming. With a friend in deep trouble, himself and Rem must do whatever they can to keep him safe and to stop King Grigoth from performing the unthinkable. I really enjoyed this part of the adventure, and the impending danger and unexpected twists will really stick with me for a while. We’ve grown to love these characters so much up to this point, and I was hoping and praying we get the best outcome for every character.
The end of the story is full of danger, emotion and change, and as a reader, I felt like I’d watched the characters grow up and understand the world they live in in much more detail. Billy has to make a lot of compromises in order to help his friends, and it was refreshing to see a group of friends with a bond so strong and solid that they’d do anything for one another. Even though their final journey was a dangerous one, it brought an unforgettable reading experience, and the build up to this part of the story was really well done.
“Soot-gray turrets punched holes in the sky, blotting out the sun and promising an eternity of trouble.”
Disguises, dragons and magic make the ending of the story so memorable. The ending was like a separate story in itself; so much was going on, and it was great to follow this almost brand new adventure until the very end. Grigoth’s castle was spectacular in its description, yet was one of the most creepiest sounding places! The unexpected twists in the final scenes kept me fixated until the very end, and I was very pleasantly surprised with the outcome. (A round of applause for the author, please!)
This book was incredibly well written, and everything from the author’s writing style and plot to the characters and creation of new worlds was a great experience that I’ll not forget in a hurry. I think this story is perfect to get you into fantasy if it’s something you’ve not tried before, and even though it’s not a genre I read a lot, I enjoyed the adventure so much! Schuyler is an extremely talented author, and I’m confident there will be many more impressive stories to come. Overall, expect an amazing journey about friendship and loyalty, and also a rollercoaster of emotions…
A huge thank you to J.R Schuyler for a great read! You can purchase your own copy of The Gloaming on Amazon, available on Kindle and paperback. 📚 You can also follow her over on Twitter for more updates!
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