My daughter and I loved Sara B. Larson’s Defy series, and have been anxiously waiting for this new series. The first of a duology, Larson expertly weaves a story set in a world of magic with a re-telling of Swan Lake. The title and cover of Dark Breaks the Dawn are beautiful and gives insight into the storyline.
Evelayn becomes queen of her realm before she feels ready. As such, it becomes her responsibility to end a war with a neighboring country. Finding balance with her new role is harder than she ever thought possible. She is both strong and compassionate, and grows in grace and strength. Along with her council, she devises a plan which will hopefully end the war. Courageously facing her tasks, she learns how to protect her people.
Told through multiple POVs, the story also gives the reader a glimpse into the life of the villain. The evil king has two sons and a scheming wife, who is plotting an alliance between the two countries. Without revealing spoilers, I believe these insights into their family dynamics will be important to know in the next book.
While I don’t usually love a lot of descriptive text, I felt this story could have benefitted from more back story. For example, we know that the Draiolon are immortal, magical beings, but what exactly are they and how does their magic work?
The pacing was a bit fast, resulting in some underdeveloped relationships, and without the setting explained thoroughly. As I started reading Dark Breaks the Dawn, I wondered if I had accidentally picked up the second book in the series, because I had questions about a number of issues. Maybe with additional background development, I would have rated this book a 4.
In conclusion, the balance between light and dark portrayed in the book was enjoyable. With its white and black tutus, it felt like a subtle nod at the swan lake ballet. (I think we’ll see more of the palace swans in the next book!) Most of all, the tension of the story builds to a cliffhanger ending, and I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised by it. I enjoy Larson’s writing and her expertise in storytelling, and as a result, I am now anxiously awaiting the sequel.