ISBN #: 978-0987801487
Page Count: 344
Copyright: June 22, 2012
(Taken from Goodreads)
The Old Ones had built wonderful cities, flown through the air and maybe even into space, and left behind fascinating relics. But that civilization was long gone, lost in the Dark Times, and Caylen feels no regret. She's a nomad, and while the Wildlands between the cities can be dangerous, they're also her home. She can't imagine living any other way.
When her band of nomads rescues a young nobleman from the city, Caylen's mother wants to deliver him to the nearest waypost, collect her reward, and move on. But Caylen is intrigued by Logan, and worried that his predictions of trouble for the nomads may be accurate. In order to protect the Wildlands she loves, Caylen may have to leave them behind and go to the city. It's a whole new world, where Caylen's nomad skills mean nothing. She'll have to learn a whole new way of fighting, if she wants to live long enough to find her way back home.
The book begins with a discovery of a body, leading to more bodies, until Caylen, a young member of the Nomads, finds Logan, an injured man who has survived despite the odds. The mystery surrounding who he is, as well as his connection to Caylen and her mother, Nora, adds intrigue. About a third of the way through the book I started to wonder - where are they going, what is their destination and are they ever going to get there? It wasn't clear yet what their goal was and why they were on guard all the time.
The second-third of the book take place in the town of Yorkton, where Logan is from, and Caylen quickly becomes swept up in the political posturing and plotting going on in town due to her heritage. Finally we learn about the Dark House, a place where the government tortures and imprisons citizens, basically according to whim. In my opinion this is where the book becomes interesting. I think the first part is important to set up the relationship between Caylen and Logan, as well as the mother/daughter relationship between Nora and Caylen, but I think there should have been more focus on the action in town.
Dark Houses is billed as YA but I didn't get a particularly YA feel from it - it seems like the politics in play would appeal more to adults than teens. Caylen and Logan's relationship is complicated, and could possibly blossom into romance, but there's an element of mistrust that makes them an interesting pair. The "fish out of water" element with Caylen coming into the town, not dressing or speaking like the townspeople, makes her stand out and also helps to further establish that she is not a typical young woman. I really like her character - she's strong, a good shot with a bow, not afraid to confront or ask tough questions, and also quite caring and wants to champion the underdog.
Overall I'd say this is an entertaining read. The strong female heroine is easy to rally behind, the plot moves along at a decent pace and the writing is nearly flawless. It's got kind of a medieval flavor to it, although it may be taking place in a post-societal world. Give it a shot if this sounds like it would be up your alley!
*A mobi file was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.