In the world of O, Abigail lives with her father and sister Leona. O is a land infested with darklings, shadow creatures that if encountered, can turn you into one of their own. Abigail’s father keeps bees, and asks her to check on them, being concerned the bees are dying for no reason. On investigation, Abbie discovers the bees are infested with the plague, and unknowingly infects herself. As the shadow plague spreads across Abbie’s palm, she learns the secrets her father has kept hidden all her life. There are other worlds, and they were not born in O. Abbie’s father urges her and Leona to travel to the world in which they were born, in order to seek their aunt – a woman who has learned to control the shadow plague. But with the shadows threatening to take over, will they survive the journey?
A Plague of Shadows is a book that has a lot going on. First off, there is a whole mythology of different creatures in the novel – elves, humans, dwarves, darklings and pixies, which provides a very rich layer to the story. While we only meet one or two of these types of characters – and merely a mention of dwarves, Simmons is setting up a world with a massive range of creatures. It definitely makes you intrigued, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series to learn more about the different creatures in the world.
The characters are pretty interesting ones, Abigail our heroine, a young girl who though can be stubborn, ultimately tries to do right by her friends and family. Leona, the innocent little sister, harbouring romantic notions for the same boy as her sister, and the mysterious father who turns out to have more secrets than everyone thought.
The writing was good, and the story moved along well, but the thing that I really liked was the descriptions of the darkling. Travis Simmons puts an immense amount of detail into them and I definitely had a few hairs raised on the back of my neck! They are creepy and frightening and reminded me of a slightly more terrifying dementor.
My one issue with the book is its length. The novel is only 120 pages, and so feels like it is over before it ever really begins. We get given loads of set up and information, but there is no time for more action. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, which I’m hoping will provide answers to all the questions I had at the end of Plague of Shadows. A very promising start to a fascinating dark fantasy series!