Review: The Scourge (Brilliant Darkness #1) by A.G Henley

Title: The Scourge (#1)
Author: A.G Henley
Published: January 30, 2012
Pages: 242
Series: Brilliant Darkness
Source: purchased

Amazon Summary: Seventeen-year-old Groundling, Fennel, is Sightless. She's never been able to see her lush forest home, but she knows its secrets. She knows how the shadows shift when she passes under a canopy of trees. She knows how to hide in the cool, damp caves when the Scourge comes. She knows how devious and arrogant the Groundlings' tree-dwelling neighbors, the Lofties, can be. 

And she's always known this day would come--the day she faces the Scourge alone. 

The Sightless, like Fenn, are mysteriously protected from the Scourge, the gruesome creatures roaming the forests, reeking of festering flesh and consuming anything--and anyone--living. A Sightless Groundling must brave the Scourge and bring fresh water to the people of the forest. Today, that task becomes Fenn's. 

Fenn will have a Lofty Keeper, Peree, as her companion. Everyone knows the Lofties wouldn't hesitate to shoot an arrow through the back of an unsuspecting Groundling like Fenn, but Peree seems different. A boy with warm, rough hands who smells like summer, he is surprisingly kind and thoughtful. Although Fenn knows his people are treacherous, she finds herself wanting to trust him. 

As their forest community teeters on the brink of war, Fenn and Peree must learn to work together to survive the Scourge and ensure their people's survival. But when Fenn uncovers a secret that shatters her truths, she's forced to decide who and what to protect--her people, her growing love for Peree, or the elusive dream of lasting peace in the forest. 

What a refreshing, highly enjoyable read.

Fenn is my favorite kind of heroine - leveled, brave, and strong. The fact that she was unable to see made the story so interesting (just a tad frustrating when I really wanted her to see so that she'd have an easier time). It gave everything a certain mystery while simultaneously giving your imagination free reigns - the appearance of every face, every expression, and every setting.

It was really amazing how much you could see through Fenn's mind despite her Sightlessness, using only sound, touch, smell, and sense so naturally (though there were a couple of times Fenn described something she shouldn't be able to see, but overall it was very well written). I saw everything in the story so clearly. And had Fenn actually been able to see but the story being written the same way, I barely would've noticed, that's how great of a writer Henley is.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic time where the Groundlings and Lofties (divided groups of inhabitants that live on the ground and up in the trees) live in fear of the Scourge (horrific-looking, flesh-eating creatures). I admit that there were a few "holes" in the story; why didn't the Groundlings have more of a sufficient way of protecting themselves and surviving the Scourge already (since issues with hiding in the cave rose so quickly like they'd never done so before)?

While the Lofties had bows and arrows to protect themselves with and kill the Scourge (also wasn't logical why they didn't just kill them all instead of a few only to scare them off), why didn't the Groundlings have any weapons? And why didn't the Lofties simply get water for themselves, protecting each other instead of relying on a Groundling in exchange for protection?

What I really didn't understand was why they would send a blind teenage girl to find the Hidden Waters in the cave all by herself when no one had managed to find it before or even made it back. Her only advantage was that she was used to darkness, but that was it. I understood the rule that another teenage boy couldn't accompany her unless he was her partner, but why couldn't anyone else be her companion (volunteer or not)?

The answer is, if they did send someone else with Fenn, the story wouldn't have been half as fun. So I'm okay with it. I was already really okay with it just as Fenn was to set off into the foreign parts of the cave.

The story had a nice pacing, giving you time to get into it. I actually liked that 'The Scourge' wasn't a crazy action-packed book. There were great dialogue and a sprinkle of nice lightheartedness, but also little twists and baffling discoveries.

I liked Peree. He was so gentle and calm, yet with a slight edge when needed. The romance was nice and believable, perfect for the story. I loved that it wasn't overwhelming or intense, it was just very soothing and comforting.

I enjoyed the forest, the refuge of Koolkuna, and many of the secondary characters (Kora, anyone?) - there's no doubt I'll read the sequel right away!


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