FORMAT/INFO: The Fractured Dark was published on September 26th, 2023 by Orbit Books. It is 544 pages long and is told in third person from multiple POVs, including Naira and Tarquin. It is available in paperback, audiobook, and ebook formats.
OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: It’s been nearly six months since Naira and Tarquin escaped from the planet of Sixth Cradle. Since then, they’ve been staging a covert resistance against the power trying to control the fate of the galaxy. It’s insidious nature makes it hard to tell friend from foe, making every move a risky one as Naira and Tarquin try to stop Tarquin’s father Acaelus from sending ships to Seventh Cradle. As a figure from Naira’s past begins hunting them, the two desperately try to keep up with an enemy that always seems one step ahead. But worst of all, Naira’s starting to remember things from a past she never lived – indicating her mind may be on the verge of cracking from too many uses of the galaxy’s reprinting technology.
The Fractured Dark is a tense paranoid thrill ride of a space opera adventure. We spend time everywhere from the edges of the galaxy to the heart of the Mercator empire as our heroes try different approaches to figuring out what their enemy is up to and to stopping it. It’s definitely a saga-length book, clocking in at 500 pages, but I constantly found myself in a “one more chapter” freefall that made the pages fly by.
But the book isn’t all simply tense plotting, it also provides space for quieter character moments. Naira in particular has a lot to deal with, as one of the biggest threats facing them is a man from Naira’s darker past. He’s not only a deadly adversary in combat, but he knows all the emotional pressure points to hit to undermine a person’s confidence, shaking both Naira and Tarquin when they need to be at their most steadfast.
While most of this book was a fascinating and gripping story, I did find myself a little thrown by the ending. Compared to the rest of the book, which moves the plot at a steady pace, the climax happens rather abruptly, and indeed the most critical part happens off-page. I almost got whiplash from how quickly the book jumped from Things Are Happening to “Anyway, here’s the new state of things, come back for Book 3!”
CONCLUSION: But come back for book 3 I certainly shall. Even as The Fractured Dark tells a satisfying story, there are still plenty of mysteries left unanswered; knowing the author, there’s still layers of this conflict we haven’t encountered. And while the structure of the end of the book may have frustrated me, it still sets up fairly high stakes for the series finale. In short, The Fractured Dark is a gripping sci-fi tale that has me counting the days until the final book arrives.