Review – The Dark Beloved, Helen Falconer

My weekend reading was fun, how about you?

The Dark Beloved is the  second book in the Changeling series, I read the two in fairly quick succession but with the firm belief that sequels ought to work as novels in their own right I’m going to look at the sequel on its own. A bit of a challenge to not reveal spoilers to two books but let’s see how this goes?

So to summarise without spoiling, Aoife is a changeling, the world is one in which magic and modern life exist but modern life is largely unaware of the magic.

What I think this series and this particular novel does really well is tackling the issue of being caught between two worlds. Aoife is dealing with the fallout of her actions in the previous title and it isn’t just a case of ‘it’s plot convenient to just believe me now so tada I am really a fairy’ which made me happy.

Equally, the book is well researched, the references to Irish lore are slotted in and they certainly fit with what I know, though I am most certainly not an expert. Unlike another book that uses a lot of references to Irish folklore, Dreams and Shadows (which I’ll review sometime), this doesn’t feel like the author is really trying to show off about how much research they’ve done for the book, the references are far more subtle than that.

Plot-wise this book isn’t going to change your life, it’s far more orientated around the romance plot than I would like, perhaps this is more geared towards teenage girls than young adults generally? But there are some nice moments, moments when Aoife stops moping about and generally gets stuff done.

I think this title does suffer from ‘second novel syndrome’ where it has to deal with the fallout from the previous novel and slightly set up any further plot points without making it so they are really easily solved in the next books in the series. That boils down to a book that feels a little bit lacking in substance, sort of like the short film that comes out between two seasons of a tv show to explain why one of the characters is gone (when really the actor just decided to give up and rent a ranch and grow avocados).

If you’re looking for a really speedy read that will entertain you but will certainly not challenge you I would recommend getting your hands on this, but maybe pick up the first one and read them like one enormous novel rather than as two. With regards to standing alone this is not a success but as part of a series it gets the job done. I’ll be looking out for further books in the series, because I’m invested now, so keep your eyes peeled, let’s see if third novel syndrome is a thing?

Are there any other ‘second in the series’ books that you think fall into a similar trap?




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