"It doesn't matter how far we run, or in what direction," Master Cohmac replied. "In the end, we always come back to the beginning."
'Star Wars: The High Republic: Into the Dark' by Claudia Gray is the lastest release in the brand new era of stories which lays out the path of the Jedi prior to The Phantom Menace.
Gray is one of a select handful of Star Wars universe authors chosen for this set of books. Already known for other stories within the franchise history such as 'Leia: Princess of Alderaan,' 'Lost Stars,' and 'Bloodline,' she's also released her own series.. the Firebird novels.
Charles Soule authored the first of The High Republic era novels.. 'Light of the Jedi,' which was released in January and 'The Rising Storm' by Cavan Scott is due to arrive in June.
"How can we split the Force in two? How can we justify such an act of violence--and it is violence, such a dividing, even the darkness divided from the light."
'Into the Dark' follows a padawan named Reath Silas who prefers the scholarly side of the Jedi Order. Most of his days at the Jedi Temple in Coruscant spent in the Archives studying, his Master takes an assignment in the undeveloped frontier in hopes it will broaden his interest in adventuring and help him achieve the much needed balance that's central to their practice.
When the ship he's traveling on are forced to drop out of hyperspace due to a galactic-wide disaster, it's only the first in many things that begins to upend their plans.
As the Jedi and their traveling companions have to take refuge on what appears to be an abandoned space station, the Jedi themselves begin to feel something at work within the Force that unnerves them. They suffer strange visions and feelings they can't explain.
"Let me never forget," he thought, "that it is another living creature standing opposite my blade."
Whether you're a Star Wars fan like myself or you just enjoy great sci-fi storytelling, there's nothing not to love about this book. It's filled with all the angst, mystery, and betrayal that the franchise has come to be known for throughout the years and the story itself is crafted expertly. There were things I expected to occur that never did and things I never saw coming until they were upon me.
I express enough how rare those kinds of occurrences are for me in any kind of media consumption.. but here we are.
The dynamics between the characters are wonderfully fleshed out, especially within the smaller groups that have more familiarity with one another. The natural instincts to fall back on those they often knew best.. before the others.. sometimes worked against them and I feel the story constantly pushed each of them to see beyond their biases.
"If you use your defeat to learn the path to victory, it was no defeat at all."
Of course, it wouldn't be a Star Wars story if it didn't make me well up with tears at least once.. and that certainly held true here. Gray did such a great job of weaving a connection between the characters and myself as a reader.. that I felt no indifference for anyone involved.. I was either deeply invested in their survival or their end.
What I often love about this franchise is that even the 'heroes' are not infallible. They often suffer grave setbacks, question even the most desperate choices they're forced to make, and mourn the actions they eventually succumb to taking. It doesn't hurt, that Star Wars has taught me not to take even their most popular characters for granted.. because anyone can be lost, one way or another.. just as anyone can persevere, even if maybe we wish they wouldn't.
'Don't Tell a Soul' by Kirsten Miller is a modern thriller with a hint of Gothic horror atmosphere about a house that's believed to be cursed and small town stories centering around a series of young women referred to as 'the Dead Girls.'
Bram is a teenage girl with a tough story of her own. Rocked by scandal and an unbearably complicated family situation, she finds herself in a small town on the Hudson called Louth.
Taken in by her uncle, she settles into the rose room at his stately manor. Unfortunately, he's struggling with his own problems.. the loss of his dear wife in a tragic fire that people say was set by her daughter and the destruction of half the house he'd restored with plans of opening an inn.
Pretty much from the moment Bram arrives in Louth, it seems like the locals don't want her around. There's this whole 'us vs them' vibe that's common in small towns.. where even if a family has lived in the area for a long time.. there's no historical ancestry and that deems them outsiders. Miller did a great job conveying that imposing unease of everyone knowing your business and many of the locals have quirks that make them seem a bit off.
Though I knew within moments of her arrival at the manor where a good chunk of the blame was going to lie, I'm relatively certain that was due to the kind of media I like to consume and my own cognitive leaping skills. In fact, the author seemed to work hard to throw misdirects in the reader's path.. frequently.. and I think others may find a surprise or two along the way.
There's definitely a love of lost girls and ghost stories on display in this book and I enjoyed the paths Miller chose to take us down for the most part. I think what's scary about the story is that it could literally be ripped from the headlines somewhere.. though some plot points seem a bit exaggerative, I've read stranger truths.
Nolan is probably my favorite character in the book and I loved Maisie too. I think they both had a lot of potential in their backstories which I would have loved to see more of.. but they were clearly just side characters as the story really focuses on Bram. Either way, they added a wonderful burst of color and texture to this wintery, gray tale.
While it's not quite as robust or eloquent as 'Rebecca' or 'The Woman in Black,' fans of similar types of soft, Gothic ambience should enjoy this book. It was a quick read, that never got dull and there are plenty of puzzle pieces for those like myself who are adept at figuring out the mysteries before they're revealed.