Nedra Brysstain is a new scholarship student at the Yugen academy in her country’s capital city. She comes from one of the rural villages in the north that have been suffering from the plague. She plans to study medicinal alchemy so she can learn how to heal people who’ve been infected with the plague.
Though most of the school’s wealthy students either ignore or attempt to ostracize Nedra, her talents and kind heart win her two important allies. One is the professor who takes her under his wing after he recognizes her potential. The other is a rich handsome student named Grey who is willing to look past Nedra’s low status.
As the plague continues to sweep the country, Nedra trains hard while she worries for her hometown, especially her parents and twin sister. As Nedra starts to become aware of her country’s political situation, and as the plague gets closer and closer to the capital city, she begins to suspect that the plague is not natural but may be a political weapon. To counteract it, she may have to resort to the illegal practice of necromancy.
Give the Dark My Love (2018) is a well-written story that is likely to appeal most to young adults. The story is simple with few characters and a plot that’s linear and, though there are a few twists at the end, easy to follow.
The setup is not at all unique — smart and likeable scholarship student goes to rich kids’ school and is made to feel unwelcome until she proves herself. Beth Revis attempts to change this up by presenting a protagonist who feels pulled to the dark side. I liked the novelty of this approach but Revis failed to convince me that Nedra, a girl who left her family to attend this school because her sole purpose in life was to help others, would be likely to consider walking this dark avenue. By the end, she appears to be power-hungry in a way that doesn’t fit her personality.
I also had a hard time believing in the romance between Nedra and Grey; It happened very fast and I didn’t feel any chemistry between them. Even though we get many chapters from Grey’s perspective, I didn’t feel that I knew him at all.
By the end of Give the Dark My Love, it’s become a very dark story. Besides the necromancy, there’s some animal research that made me feel queasy. I used to do invasive animal research in college and grad school, so this queasiness has nothing to do with an opposition to animal research, but rather the cruel nature of what Nedra and her professor were doing to animals.
The relationship between Nedra and her sister was sweet, but other than that, there’s very little light in this story. There’s no humor or clever banter between characters. Almost nothing to make the reader smile. If you’re in the mood for something dark and sad, perhaps Give the Dark My Love is a good choice. The story continues in the sequel, Bid My Soul Farewell. It’s already loaded onto my phone, so I’ll give it a try.
Listening Library produced the audio version that I listened to. The performances by Mhairi Morrison (Nedra’s chapters) and Bruce Mann (Grey’s chapters) are nice enough but I didn’t think that either one of them was particularly well-cast. Bruce Mann sounds a little too old and I don’t think Mhairi Morrison captured the dark tone accurately. But, the audiobook isn’t bad — it’s just not great. It’s 12.25 hours long.