A Darkling Plain is the fourth and final book in Philip Reeve’s YA dystopian adventure series Predator Cities.
As the conclusion to a quartet of novels, you obviously don’t want to pick up any spoilers here if you haven’t read the first three books yet, right?! So, instead of reading this review you can check out my thoughts on Mortal Engines, Predator’s Gold and Infernal Devices by clicking on their titles.
Now, if you HAVE read those books, here’s a brief synopsis of A Darkling Plain:
Six months after Infernal Devices left off, Wren and her father Tom Natsworthy hear of a secret they never thought possible.
London, the great Traction City of the past, has lain in ruins for many, many years. A testament to a complete loss of life.
Or is it?
But while Tom and Wren search for answers regarding London, a lonely and dangerous child is also hiding a secret – one that could destroy the entire human race.
Time is running out…
So, the three previous books in this series have encompassed a rather large amount of time and material. Philip Reeve made me care for these complex, flawed characters and focus on their noble qualities. In Infernal Devices, however, the heartbreaking, disturbing turns led me to not be so happy with the twists it’s taken over time.
Not that I need to be. That doesn’t always make a good story, after all.
My point is that as I began A Darkling Plain, I found that I was fascinated in some things, such as the progression of the Anna/Stalker Fang plot and the interesting, futuristic world that has developed and evolved since the start of Mortal Engines. There’s such a wonderful sense of creativity and devotion to the world-building in these novels.
Other things, though, just depressed me. Like the current state of Tom and Hester. Their adult lives, in general, are not what I would have hoped for them. And so, as I read A Darkling Plain, it all felt like too much. Too much sadness, too much emotional turmoil, too many moments diverted from our main characters to outside activities that sometimes did not interest me as much.
As much as I hate to admit it, I actually began to skim this final book. My heart was just not as invested in it, I think I may have lost hope that things would turn out the way I wanted – or in any way that would leave me feeling satisfied.
However, there were many touching, meaningful moments filling the finale. Tears almost burst through my protective bibliophile cocoon a couple of times.
I was not jumping up and down in love with it. I wasn’t always 100% involved in the story. Yet, I know that the Predator Cities series is a special one, and someday when I have the time I’d like to reread the whole series again – word for word – and maybe appreciate the melancholy a little more.
A Darkling Plain might not be the best conclusion, but it is not an ordinary one.