Dancers and Instructors at Harvey Zumbathon in Round Rock, TX

The Zumbathon for Harvey

I wrote this Pantoum-mime poem in honor of the many people inside and outside of Texas who have given any aid to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. by R. L. Copple - 9/4/2017 The call goes...

R. L. Copple's Blog

Review: By Darkness Hid
by Jill Williamson

ISBN: 978-0-9821049-5-8
Disclaimer: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

I love it when I read a book that has great characters, an unpredictable plot, and clear writing that doesn’t get in the way of the story. And by all accounts, that’s what you can expect to find in By Darkenss Hid, by Jill Williamson.

Jill creates an interesting and well developed cast, both with the two protagonist and the supporting characters. They read and feel like individuals with their own history and motives, and the chemistry between many of them simply works. The reader won’t find themselves bored with the interaction between these characters and will cheer on the protagonist.

On the face of it, the plot could have been, and may feel to some, as trite. My first impression of young Achen, the primary star of the show, was similar to Harry Potter’s situation. He has a gift of which he is unaware: bloodvoicing, which is a telepathic ability to listen into another’s thoughts and experiences as well as communicate with other bloodvoicers within a given range. Achen’s “guardians” work to keep that ability hidden from him, of which he is particularly gifted, using a “tonic” he has to drink everyday.

But the similarities end at that point. Not only because this alternate world of Er’Rets is set in a Medieval culture, but the reason behind this charade becomes the primary plot revelation toward the end of the book, and thus the thematic climax. This book details the events which transpire to bring this revelation into the open. I feared for a while that we would get a “Luke, I am your father” moment, but that didn’t happen. The revelation actually is intricate and well played, and makes sense of the situation where we find Achen when the story starts. Not that some couldn’t guess the outcome, but when it hit, I wasn’t looking for it, though I did guess correctly on some key parts. What could have been another trite plot, however, was developed by the author and made her own unique contribution that kept me interested in what would happen next.

The alternate thread of this plot involves a young girl, who in an attempt to avoid being married to the selfish and vile prince, goes into hiding as a boy named Vrell Sparrow. While this part of the story wasn’t as intriguing as Achen’s, I did find her growing on me and sucked into that part of the story as well. My only complain there was the trip to Master Hadar, who trains her in bloodvoicing, felt a little long. Some interesting things happen along the way, but I was ready for it to end before it did.

Yet, her story plays into Achen’s as the story progresses, and their paths naturally cross. Her secret, which the reader knows, doesn’t get revealed to the rest of the characters except for a select few who figure it out. And her story isn’t fully resolved on that point, obviously to be revealed in the next book. I did find her interesting, however, and her plot line adds to the story.

There are two areas concerning the plot that the reader needs to be aware of. One is that the end of the book is a good cliffhanger. You will be wanting to read the second book once done with this one. While there are some things of great importance you learn, there are several threads that are left for another book or two to resolve. The reader simply needs to be aware of that going in, and plan on getting the rest of the series if you want the full story. This is not a self-contained story.

A second issue is once the revelation was revealed, there was an aspect of it I found a little hard to swallow. An attempt is made well enough to account for it, but it still sounded a little unlikely to me. What is the plot hole? Well, if I told you that, you’d have no reason to read the book. Then we’d have to mindwipe you. That taken into account, I was willing to give the author the benefit of doubt on it, and suspend disbelief, but it did feel unlikely to me. Most people will probably not even notice it or be bothered about it if they do. Indeed, the book is so well done, by the time you get there, you’re invested in the story and that isn’t likely to throw you. It is possible it could have happened that way, so I’m willing to give that to her. Just not probable.

The world setting was well developed. There is political intrigue behind the story, and competing factions. One interesting aspect of this world is that part of it is set in “Darkness,” apparently a very thick mist that blocks out the sun. This book doesn’t get into the reason for this darkness, but apparently there are whole cities in it.

One seeming inconsistency I noticed are among those who live in the darkness. One race of men have been driven mad by it, so they appear to act and react as animals. Achen is warned not to go into it, and they appear to fear being driven mad themselves by it. Yet there are whole cities that exist in the darkness that don’t seem affected by it. Achen meets some of them, even appearing to nearly fall in love with one of the ladies who comes across as kind and noble. It could be in the next book we’ll learn more about the world and why this disparity exist between these two races living in the darkness, but it would seem just being in the darkness doesn’t necessarily make one mad, though it can. Why one group does go mad and the other doesn’t is yet to be revealed.

But the world itself is real and believable, even if unique. Yet there is still much more to learn about it that isn’t revealed in this book. Most readers will find the setting interesting and fun.

On the writing front, the author does a good job of staying out of the way, letting the words build pictures and develop the story rather than calling attention to themselves. She writes in a way that is easy to follow and leads to little, if any, confusion as to what is happening. Action scenes are described in a clear manner. The text contains very few typos; only two jumped out at me.

I liked her descriptions, but felt on one point they were overdone. To continually be describing what everyone is wearing was too much for my taste. Sometimes that was needed, but other times I wondered why I even needed to know that information. Most of the other descriptions felt appropriate and painted the scenes in vivid color.

The bottom line? I fully enjoyed reading this book. The characters, the interesting plot, the writing style, all come together to give the reader a story they can lose themselves in. I’m ready for book two, To Darkness Fled. You will be too once you dig into this 490 page volume and spends some hours in Er’Rets with Achen and Vrell. I recommend this novel and give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Check out these other sites participating in the CSFF Blog Tour:

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Gina Burgess
Beckie Burnham
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Sarah Flanagan
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Joleen Howell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

About R. L. Copple
R. L. Copple enjoys a good cup of coffee and a fun story. These two realities and inspiration from the likes of Lester Del Ray, J. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, among others, caused him to write his own science fiction and fantasy stories to increase the fun in the world and to share his fresh perspective.
This entry was posted in Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Review: By Darkness Hid
by Jill Williamson

  1. Very good review! I liked this book a lot too and would love to read the next one.

  2. Pingback: CSFF Blog Tour – By Darkness Hid, Day 1 « A Christian Worldview of Fiction

  3. Tori says:

    Makes me want to read the book even more!

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention Coppleā€™s Creations :: Review: By Darkness Hidby Jill Williamson :: http://blog.rlcopple.com -- Topsy.com

  5. KM Wilsher says:

    Great review, R.L, sorry about your link on my post. I’ve fixed it for today. I wouldn’t even have know it was missing. . .JWilliamson has captured something in BDH. I loved it :0)

  6. Rick says:

    Thanks, KM. And yes, I think she has captured something special here. I look forward to reading the next book. And I may not wait for the $0.99 Kindle special either. :)

  7. Krysti says:

    I think, R.L., that in the details you may see Jeff Gerke’s editing preferences at work. He likes lots of details! It’s true that not everyone does; a friend of mine was marked down recently on her Genesis scores for “too much detail” (after she’d tried to follow one of Jeff’s recommendations). Another judge didn’t mind so much, and gave her a much higher score.

    But it’s a good point; a person who wants to imagine everything in their head is going to get into this story a little less than the person who wants all the details, but I think there’s room for both to enjoy it.

  8. Dona Watson says:

    Rick: Nice review with some interesting points. For some reason it cracks me up that you got tired of the clothing descriptions. I didn’t notice, but I’ve seen other similar complaints regarding other books and I didn’t notice then either. :)

  9. Keanan Brand says:

    Yeah, Rick, I’m with you: “Okay, so they were wearing clothes. Let’s get to the good stuff!” But I’m one of those writers who sometimes forgets the details in preference for the action or the dialogue. So my impatience could just be a difference in storytelling preference.

  10. Rick says:

    It could also be many of us men aren’t that concerned with what people are wearing too. :D I don’t know. I liked how Tolkien did it. Even though he is very detailed on the landscape and scene settings, the descriptions of his characters are sparse, if he describes them at all. Seems he did most of his descriptions of the races in general in his prologue and appendix.

    Although I don’t write my scenes as detailed as Tolkien did, I do describe my characters more than he did, though not a whole lot more. I’m more content to pick out some characteristic descriptions that add to the character and let the reader fill in the blanks.

    But I appreciate fairly detailed scenery. I like to know where the character is at, what the “feel” of the place is, and that needs describing, in a non-static manner if at all possible. But I’ve been guilty of not doing that enough. So, like you say, it’s all a balancing act in many cases.

    I think for this type of higher fantasy, the reader expects some good detail in the scenery, but the characters is up to the author, and I guess even the editor. :)

  11. Rick,
    Thanks for the review! I’ve added your link to my website post. I missed it at first too.

    Krysti,
    You nailed it. Jeff loves description. He asked me to add better descriptions to every scene in the book. My rewrite made book one 75 pages longer! So I used lots of description in book two and three, because I now know what Jeff wants and it saves time in edits if I do things his way up front. But now I’ve trained myself to describe things well, so who knows? Maybe I’ll always be big on descriptions. Until another editor tells me to cut them down, anyway. :-)
    Jill

  12. Rick says:

    Thank you, Jill, for stopping by. I’ll have to keep that in mind if and when I submit something to Jeff. Many thanks for a well told story!

  13. Rhonda fortune says:

    Hi Rick how is it going? This is Rhonda . I dont got a facebook yet but i will soon!If you want 2 email me you can. Just trying 2 keep in touch with family! See You In Aug!Have a nice summer!Love,Rhonda.

  • Categories

  • Past Musings

  • Titles

  • Hero Game

    Second book in The Virtual Chronicles. A superhero space adventure!

  • Mind Game

    Mind Game Cover

    First book in The Virtual Chronicles. Virtual reality has never been so real!

  • Reality’s Fire

    Third book in The Reality Chronicles. The exciting finale goes to Hell and back.

  • Reality’s Ascent

    Reality's Ascent Cover

    Second book in The Reality Chronicles. An adventure with consequences.

  • Reality’s Dawn

    First book in The Reality Chronicles. 15 adventures of Sisko to enjoy!

  • Ethereal Worlds Anthology

    25 short stories and flash fictions written over five years by R. L. Copple.

  • Strange Worlds of Lunacy

    Let's go there. It's a silly place. Two flash fictions in this anthology: "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," and "Baby Truth."