Review: The Brink of Darkness

“This hair of yours,” she said. “I suspect you don’t care to hear anyone’s opinion—but may I tell you my opinion? “
“Um, sure?” said Val.
“It is sublime,” said Ripper. “You must not alter it until you’ve infuriated as many imbeciles as you can.”

The Brink of Darkness by Jeff Giles
337 pages
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published by Bloomsbury, 2018
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I don’t think I’ll be coming back to this one.
Reviewed by Indiana

The Brink of Darkness follows Zoe, X, and a few other characters that were introduced in The Edge of Everything, the first book in the series. It picks up neatly where the first left off: Zoe is going to the funeral of the Wallace’s and X is in the Lowlands.

Things get a bit mixed up though when Ripper shows up.

Ripper, for those who don’t yet know this lovely character, is a hilariously tough (and dead) woman from the 1800s. She’s helped to raise X for most of his life and comes to Zoe’s rescue when a maniac gets pissed off at her and her friends for a minor car accident. Ripper comes in and scares the maniac off by scaring him half to death and drawing a little bit of blood.

Then she steals Zoe away to go on a quest to find all of her dead children, promising that she’ll also bring X. It feels like a bit of a funny side plot but it’s sad and over with quickly. X and Zoe finally meet up again, though they’re torn apart when X is called back to the Lowlands.

Only this time, he is bent on returning to find his mother and father, neither or whom he knows. He is banished into the even lower Lowlands – basically a worse hell than he already lived in and given only a few objects and a nickname to try and find his mom. For some reason, it took awhile for this plot to convince me that it was really what X should be focusing on.

But it did eventually convince me. In finding his parents, X hopes to find a bit of himself, to know himself better an understand where/who he comes from.

Zoe eventually ends up in the Lowlands with him again and they go on a crazy adventure (which involves caving, special powers, evil people, giants, Russians/Ukrainians, a drill bit, and a cat).

It all comes down to whether X will have to remain in the Lowlands, as he has had to do nearly his entire life, or whether he’ll be able to live as a regular human on earth.

Despite the fact that the book mostly takes place in the Lowlands, we still don’t know anything about the higher power that controls all the lords and everyone’s special powers. It’s hinted at several times that even X is unsure of who or what the power is exactly. I’m guessing that may be explored in future books, though perhaps not.

The Brink of Darkness shared the same pacing, humor, and great character development as The Edge of Everything. However, the later is still my favorite. The pacing is more consistent and I couldn’t believe how much story Giles could pack in in a matter of 300-something pages.

The second book wasn’t as consistent, though there were plenty of suspenseful moments. Overall, I’d say it was a good follow-up, though not quite the one I was looking for.

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