Katy Rose Pool’s ‘There Will Come a Darkness’ is the fantasy epic of the fall


There are many exciting new fantasy novels coming out this fall, but there’s one story that stands head and shoulders above the rest: Author Katy Rose Pool’s debut epic There Will Come a Darkness.

But clear your schedule as soon as you pick it up, because it’s a novel that’s almost impossible to put down once you start in on the first page.

A dark, complicated tale of faith, prophecy, magic, war, death and more, There Will Come a Darkness is the sort of rich fantasy story that defies easy explanation. But here goes: For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity…until the day 100 years ago when they disappeared. However, they left behind one last prophecy, guarded by a secret order of Paladin knights, which foretold of the coming of an Age of Darkness, and the birth of a final Prophet whose arrival could save or doom the world. (Trust me, there’s a lot more than this. But it’s hard to explain in anything close to generic terms.)

There Will Come a Darkness is told through the perspective of five different characters, each with their own agendas, histories and connections to each other. There’s Hassan, the exiled prince of a kingdom currently under the control of an invading army. Ephyra is the assassin known as the Pale Hand, a healer with the power to siphon life from others. Her younger sister Beru is sickly and dying, and why Ephyra gets up in the morning. Anton is a talented gambler with the Grace of Sight, but he’s on the run from both his family and his past. And Jude is a warrior who has dedicated himself to the belief that he and the order he serves can help stop the encroaching darkness, even if, in his heart of hearts, he doesn’t always know if that’s true.

Throw in a bubbling rebellion by some cultists called the Witnesses who believe that the Graced — those people who possess enhanced bodily magic that improves their physical speed or allows them to have visions — need to be destroyed, and it’s just one more layer in a story that, by all rights, should feel overstuffed, unwieldy and like it’s trying to do too much.

The wonder is, it doesn’t. At all.

There Will Come a Darkness somehow manages to balance five different perspectives and individual arcs alongside its primary story, engage in some insanely detailed world building, manage a magical prophecy that feels like it changes pretty much every time anyone talks about it, and sow the seeds for several budding romances. And it makes it all look easy.

The story flows organically, building its narrative in such a way that every one of the twists in the second half – and there are several, and they are gut punches – feel natural and earned. (A few of them you may actually guess in advance, which is the sign of a well-plotted tale.) It explores some complex thematic issues, examining the privilege surrounding those born with magic and those without, while wrestling with ideas of predestination, free will and prophecy. How much of our lives are our own? Are we who we choose to be? Or are we doomed to live out a role that’s already been determined for us long before we were ever allowed to make any choices?

Each of the main characters in There Will Come a Darkness has their own individual arc, and grow and changes over the course of the tale. Their stories are important and interesting in and of themselves, and not just for the ways they impact the larger overall narrative. We come to care about them for their own sakes, though everyone will have their own favorites. (Mine, for the record, is Jude – though I’m thoroughly invested in all of them.)

Oftentimes in stories that feature multiple protagonists like this, there’s something of a rush to get everyone on the same team and in the same place. That’s not the case here. Several of our main characters do interact and join forces over the course of the story. But some never meet one another, and don’t even learn of the others’ existence before the final page. Given that each of these people has a clear part to play in the breaking — or saving — of the world, we can assume that will change for good or for ill in the sequel. But it’s nice to see an author trust her audience enough to know that part of the story can happen when it’s time for it to happen.

By the end of the novel — which, by the way, clocks in at nearly 500 pages — it feels like the larger story of this world and these characters is just beginning, yet every character is distinctly changed from who they were when the book started, and the world they inhabit is different, too. It’s so difficult to talk about this story without spoiling anything — and trust me, you don’t want it ruined for you — but it suffices to say that There Will Come a Darkness feels impressively original, from its detailed internal mythology to its complex characters to its deft mix of darkness and hope.

dark. Next. CBS All Access wraps filming on Star Trek: Picard

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Watch Game of Thrones for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels