Give the Dark My Love (2018)
When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her.
All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague.
Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.
Bid My Soul Farewell (2019)
Alchemy student turned necromancer Nedra Brysstain has made a life-changing decision to embrace the darkness–but can the boy who loves her bring her back to the light before she pays the ultimate price?
Lunar Island is trying to heal. The necromantic plague that ravaged the land has been eradicated, and Emperor Auguste, the young and charming leader of the Allyrian Empire, has a plan: rid the island of necromancy once and for all. Though Greggori “Grey” Astor wants what’s best for his people, he knows that allying himself with Auguste threatens the one person he loves most: necromancer Nedra Brysstain. Feeling like he already failed to save Nedra once, Grey becomes determined to help the Emperor rebuild Lunar Island while still keeping Nedra safe from harm.
Back at the quarantine hospital, Nedra’s army of revenants are growing increasingly inhuman by the day. Wracked with guilt for imprisoning their souls, Nedra vows to discover a way to free the dead while still keeping her sister by her side.
But, still reeling from the trauma of the plague, the people of Lunar Island are looking for someone to blame, and Grey can only protect Nedra for so long. And when Nedra and Grey are thrust into a battle with an even more terrifying adversary, Nedra will be pushed to the darkest depths of her necromantic powers. But can Grey let her go that far?
“I saw Death itself.
It was a feral thing, made of smoke and shadow. It was hollow and empty.
― Beth Revis, Give the Dark My Love
This is just a really well done duology, so well written and takes on a really dark topic. How far would you go to save the ones you love? What would you be willing to sacrifice, a part of yourself or even your very soul?
Nedra starts off as a very quiet, but confident young lady, who finds herself way out of her element. She is a country girl, who is very close to her family, especially her twin. But she goes off to the big city to attend university, so that she can become an alchemist. She then becomes embroiled in solving the puzzle of the plague that is ravaging the poorer people in her world. Watching Nedra go from her innocence to someone willing to sacrifice everything to do what was right was such a great journey to watch. She is a character to admire, because even though she makes some tough choices, ones most people wouldn’t make, she never looses her sense of right and wrong, her moral center. Even her romance with Grey was done so well. She didn’t let her feelings for him stop her from making the decisions that were right for her.
“Perhaps the only thing worse than fear is apathy. Fear makes us do horrible things to people. Apathy makes us allow horrible things to happen to them.”
― Beth Revis, Bid My Soul Farewell
I really liked Grey, although I did find him frustrating at times. He was almost the exact opposite of Nedra. Born into privilege, he just wanted a comfy job with the hospital that served the wealthier people in the city. Falling in love with Nedra was perhaps the best thing that could have happened to him. Watching his perspective of the world change while still holding on to the one thing he was sure of was just so interesting. He could still be an ass at times, but his love for Nedra does save him and her by the end.
“I had nothing to prove and everything to lose. But it didn’t take love to sacrifice something of yourself for someone else. It just took desperation.”
― Beth Revis, Give the Dark My Love
These are both rather short books, but the world building was really well done. The society was typical of most, there were the poor and the disenfranchised as well as the well off and the wealthy. What sets it off as different is the magical system. The alchemical process that they used to heal people, and to become a necromancer is very different than most I have read. The idea of syphoning off people’s pain was very interesting. Also there were different levels of alchemy, both the healing kind and the changing things kind were represented. I also like the island aspect of the setting. In the second book, Nedra and Grey travel to the main land and it was very interesting to see the differences in the society.
The plot over the two books was well done. It was very riveting and fast paced and hard to put down. There is a twist in the second book that I didn’t see until slightly before Nedra knew, which is always a good sign of a well crafted plot. There is evil, outside of Nedra’s descent into necromancy. Although I am not sure that what Nedra does is necessarily evil. The souls she reclaims are always willing to stay, because they have unfinished business. Nedra never looses sight of this, except for perhaps when it came to her sister. She does have a hard time letting go of her. The romance does not overpower the story, which is great. They each choose what is best for them, even when they know it will hurt the other.
This duology deserves way more hype than it has been getting. Give it a chance, I don’t think you will be disappointed.