Every Mord day Jenna’s family look forward to conjuring dark magic and making offerings to demonic entities. Jenna she dreads it all, and resents being too weak to leave the castle while the others get to go out into the neighbouring villages. Her family revel in the darkness cast by the eternal mists, while she craves the sun on her skin, a sun no-one’s seen in a long time. On the eve of her 13th birthday, her feelings of dread grow, and so do her suspicions about her family.
With the aid of her two mind-reading rats, an old book and a few hurried instructions from an elderly servant, Jemma makes her escape. Hotly pursued out into the forests, she flounders a little in the mist – I felt I was lost there for too long myself. Thankfully, she makes it out of the Forest with the aid of Digby, the son of her family’s grocer, and here the story truly begins. Jemma’s a likeable and able heroine, while – aside from Digby and one or two others – the people she encounters are quite downtrodden and lacking in hope. She embodies the change everyone longs to see and learns about her family’s heritage by word of mouth and clues from her old book.
I downloaded the audiobook from Audible and loved the narration by Rosalyn Landor. She did an excellent job of bringing the story to life, as did the writing. The story is dark yet humorous, which works for the most part but jars at other times. The main characters are younger teens and this is reflected in their actions and relationships, but the themes are heavy – including infanticide. It’s a high fantasy tale of good versus evil, filled with despair and hope in equal parts. The finale provides an emotional twist I hadn’t foreseen, although the clues were all there. Well worth a read.