Editor’s Note: I know Justin Knight through social media and was interviewed on his YouTube show about writers and writing. I purchased the book to review.
Darkest Before Dawn starts out leaving the reader guessing as to the nature of the characters, and the story that is being laid out before them. It soon becomes a story about a dark evil coming to a small community, using magic to try and overcome the guardians that protect the village. It’s a story with an interesting twist, not only in the characters, but also in the ‘inside joke’ that is the story. Readers who aren’t in on the joke itself, and the references it makes, won’t be lost however, it’s a good read without having to be wise to its inspiration.
My first thoughts on the story was that it had a good start. The beginning pages were interesting, and set up an intriguing mystery that pulled me in and got me wanting to know more. The story itself, characters, and scenes are pretty solid and easy to follow, even when it begins to take a turn toward the supernatural and you start to grasp what the main characters actually are. I won’t be giving away the mystery, so you’ll have to read it to find out what I mean on that front. I don’t want to spoil the fun of letting it all slowly dawn on you.
For Justin’s first published story the writing is pretty good. The story could use a good editor, as there are some tense and grammar issues as well as quite a few typos. It’s certainly not the worst I’ve seen in self-published works, or even commercially published books and it’s understandable considering the cost of a professional editor for an independent writer. I really didn’t find any noticeable flaws with the story itself however, which is the most important part.
Justin does a great job of giving the reader a fantastical story, with fantastical characters, in a believable way. The characters feel real, each with their own personality and quirks, all coming together before the reader starts to get the true nature of what those characters are. The world the story is set in feels normal, and familiar, all before we start to get a taste of the supernatural, and that helps pull the reader into the story without turning you off by jumping into the strangeness of it all way too soon.
As the tale progresses Justin isn’t afraid to hurt, or even kill his characters, which is often something new writers have trouble with. He doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the dark nature of the story, or the evil invaders that our heroes have to fight. The climax of the plot is exciting, and it highlights how the author keeps the story tight without being too simple. There’s never really a lot of unnecessary exposition, but enough to give you a sense of the world the story takes place in.
It is a short tale, and priced appropriately I think. It was a fun read, and something I’d recommend if you enjoy fantasy with some hidden surprises.
The book is available on Amazon