From Darkness by Kate Hazel Hall
Ari’s childhood friend Alex drowned when they were kids. Years later, Ari is fatally bitten by a snake, but a grown version of Alex sent to escort her to the underworld chooses to save her. Now the balance is interrupted and they have to find a way to stay together despite the sinister attentions of a ruler of the underworld.
Queer, young adult, urban fantasy
Sixteen-year-old Ari Wyndham has a secret. Her best friend, Alex, drowned at Stonehaven beach when she was nine, and nobody knows that Ari still blames herself for Alex’s death.
When Ari is bitten by a tiger snake, a summoner is sent from the underworld to collect her. The summoner is Alex, who has spent the past seven years escorting souls to the underworld. They recognise each other, and Alex chooses to save Ari, even though she knows there will be a terrible price to pay for this transgression.
Alex’s rebellion is dangerous; it upsets the balance of life and death, and endangers the people and animals of Stonehaven. A rift opens from the underworld, and dark magic threatens the remote coastal town. Savage dog packs roam the pine plantation and emerge at night to kill pets and livestock, fishermen catch ghostly bodies in their nets, and children go missing. And all the while Alex is hiding the truth from Ari, which is that she could be drawn back to the underworld at any time
This was a short but wonderful fantasy read. I won a signed copy in a giveaway and even received a concept art piece from the author. I was very excited to read it and wasn’t disappointed. I was obsessed with Greek mythology as a kid so this was an almost nostalgic book for me. It made me really happy by reminding me of all the cool aspects of mythology.
I really loved the explorations of grief and guilt. The focus is mostly on the characters and their relationships and internal journeys, rather than lots of action. Hall managed to develop these characters and get me to connect with them even in a slim novel.
I got very emotionally invested, to the point where I had to sit and read through the last third in one sitting because I needed to know what became of the characters.
The whole book felt like a wonderfully nostalgic, comforting blanket on my mind. I’m so glad I got a copy.