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"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green



Title: The Plentiful Darkness
Authors(s): Heather Kassner
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Edition: Hardcover, eBook; 256 pgs
PublisherHenry Holt and Co. (BYR)
SourceRockstar Book Tours
PurchaseAmazon - Kindle - B&N - BAM! - iBooks - Kobo - TBD - Bookshop.org
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.  Please note the purchase links above are affiliate links.

Tour Schedule

Week One
8/2/2021 - BookBriefs - Excerpt
8/3/2021 - Rajiv's Reviews - Review
8/4/2021 - Nerdophiles - Review
8/5/2021 - Polish And Paperbacks - Review
8/6/2021 - Books and Zebras @jypsylynn - Review

Week Two
8/9/2021 - The Momma Spot - Review
8/10/2021 - Do You Dog-ear? - Review
8/11/2021 - The Bookwyrm's Den - Review
8/12/2021 - celiamcmahonreads - Review
8/13/2021 - Eli to the nth - Review

The Summary

In Heather Kassner's spine-chilling fantasy novel, reminiscent of Serafina and the Black Cloak, an orphaned girl chases a thieving boy into a magician's land of starless, moonless gloom where other children have gone missing before her.

In order to survive on her own, twelve-year-old Rooney de Barra collects precious moonlight, which she draws from the evening sky with her (very rare and most magical) lunar mirror. All the while she tries to avoid the rival roughhouse boys, and yet another, more terrifying danger: the dreaded thing that's been disappearing children in the night.

When Trick Aidan, the worst of the roughhouse boys, steals her lunar mirror, Rooney will do whatever it takes to get it back. Even if it means leaping into a pool of darkness after it swallows Trick and her mirror. Or braving the Plentiful Darkness, a bewitching world devoid of sky and stars. Or begrudgingly teaming up with Trick to confront the magician and unravel the magic that has trapped Warybone's children.

Praise for The Plentiful Darkness:

"Though the darkness is indeed plentiful, this book gleams with an eerie magic, its characters burning bright and fierce. A visual treat of a tale." --Stefan Bachmann, international bestselling author of Cinders and Sparrows.

"For readers who love the creepiness of Coraline . . . Lyrical narration weaves a tale that’s both haunting and comforting." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Kassner’s latest is deliciously on-brand, with inventive magic, lyrical writing, and that just-right creep factor." —Kirkus

"Readers who enjoy Adam Gidwitz’s Grimm series will enjoy this title too." —School Library Journal
My Review

The Plentiful Darkness by Heather Kassner is the perfect Fall read!  A delicious mix of creepy and fantastical, this book will give you shivers.  Which, if you've read any of Kassner's other books, is on brand.

Readers follow Rooney De Barra, one the many orphans in the town of Warybone, who is on her own after the death of her parents.  She, along with The Montys (what she calls the gaggle of rats living on the streets with the orphans), go seeking moonlight, which can be used as currency in her town.  And while she has to compete with the roughhouse boys, she has a secret weapon: her magical mirror.  Due to its rarity it is coveted, not only by the roughhouse boys, but by a witch terrorizing Warybone each night.  One can guess that doesn't bode well for Rooney.

What Kessner does so well in this book, as well as her others, is craft a beautiful, slightly off-kilter world.  I also love the world-building her in books, and this one is no exception.  Warybone is its own character, and the perfect counterpoint to the Plentiful Darkness (think a toned down Upside Down vibe).  On top of the world-building, Kessner has a lyrical hand with her prose, and there are just sentences that sing on the pages.  Put it together with our intrepid heroine, and there's a story that will captivate the entire time.

Younger readers may get scared, but for the older tweens this is the perfect witching hour book (but let's not stay up until the witching hour).  Readers can grab a copy of The Plentiful Darkness by Heather Kessner wherever books are sold.  Or check out the giveaway at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a finished copy.

Final Rating




A Few Hours Earlier

Stardust was trickier to catch than moonlight. In fact, Rooney de Barra had never caught a speck of it. It danced far out of reach, little gems in the evening sky that taunted her with their bright sparkling.

Even on overcast nights like this one, they glittered through the gray.

Standing in the darkened alleyway, Rooney ran a thumb over the round metal case in her hand—the exact size of her small palm. A thorny stem was etched on the lid, and she cracked it open. It might have looked like a chainless pocket watch, but nestled within lay a very special mirror.

A lunar mirror.

Some said these rare mirrors were made from the moon itself, tiny slivers of the dead rock fallen to Earth. Rooney thought that notion silly, because she knew the truth.

Magic touched the glass.

Oh, it was a most extraordinary mirror. The silvery surface rippled like the sea, then settled smooth and shiny once again. She tucked her dark hair behind her ears and tipped her face over the glass. Her freckled white cheeks, her arrowed eyebrows, and her bark-brown eyes left no reflection.

The only face the mirror would reveal was that of the moon.

Rooney polished the glass with the frayed sleeve of her coat, checking for nicks or scratches, removing fingerprints and thumb smudges. When she was through, the mirror shone.

Its reflected light exposed the blackened bricks of the buildings to each side of her, the grime-coated windows, and the mold stuck in the cracks. Rooney wrinkled her nose and inched away from the walls so she stood in the very center of the alleyway.

A thread of silver fell between the old buildings and glanced upon her cheek. She took one step back, and another half step, lifting her right arm and holding it steady with the left. Quite precisely, she angled the mirror toward the sky. It reflected the dark clouds above and sieved a smidgen of moonlight, which spiraled down through the air, wispy and blue.

Rooney held very still so the mirror would not tilt. One little twitch might spill the light instead of capture it, and she needed every last drop.

A breeze swept by, scampering through the alley and swooping up, up, up into the sky. Rooney kept her feet firmly planted. Her raised arm never wavered. But the clouds shifted when pushed, and the moon disappeared behind them.

She frowned, turning the mirror this way and that, but it did no good. The moonbeams could no longer reach her.

And of course, the stardust only teased her, a glimmer beyond the fog.

Rooney closed the mirror and tucked it into the pocket of her long coat. With a huff, she stalked down the alleyway. It was undoubtedly the worst place to catch moonlight, but it was the one place in Warybone she felt safest.

Yes, it was dark. (Very.) Yes, it was crooked and foul and dank. (Very, very, very.) But it was quiet too. A hushed space that Rooney had all to herself.

Or mostly.

The rats gathered here too. Thick furred and long tailed, they skittered through the shadows, unbothered and right at home. No one troubled them in the alley. No one shrieked or kicked them out of the way like the gents and ladies and roughhouse boys did in the cobbled streets. All those hard-knuckled boys scared of getting bitten, while Rooney slept beside the little beasts without suffering a single scratch or nibble.

In unspoken agreement, the Montys—which was what she called the rats, a collective name for all of them, as she could hardly tell one hairy creature from another—behaved quite politely, and she offered them the same courtesy.

She could not say the same for the roughhouse boys. She’d rumbled with them a time or two. They were all bruises and teeth.

Rooney watched for them now (the boys, not the rats) as she emerged from the alleyway and hesitated on the darkened street. At each corner, lamps glowed blue in the misty air, moonlit sparks wavering behind the glass, and within each house, moonlit flames leaped in the hearths, for when moonlight touched wood or wick, it warmed, and when it touched metal or glass, it cooled.

It was much safer than the outdated use of fire or gas, which could as easily warm a house as burn it to the ground. Spilled moonlight would only glimmer harmlessly before it eventually faded away.

She cast a look over her shoulder. Usually the boys made enough noise in their coming that she heard them before she saw them, but it was still wise to be cautious.

Her boots fell softly on the street as she crept forward. One of the Montys followed her the length of a block and then another, keeping close to her ankles. It was a skinny thing (like Rooney herself) with a scruffy black coat and a splotch of white on its nose.

Rooney glanced up at the sky. She licked her finger and held it out in front of her, trying to gauge which way the wind would carry the clouds. That-a-way (she did not know north from south), she guessed, and turned left down Cider Street.

Best to stay on the busier avenues as long as she could, where the laughter and music from the taverns spilled out into the night. (At this hour, there were still more smiles than fists.)

The Monty continued to follow her. It must have felt safe in her shadow, hoping she’d spare a crumb. One it wouldn’t have to fight over with its sharp-toothed brothers and sisters.

“I’ve got nothing for you, I’m afraid.” Her stomach grumbled. “And nothing for me, unless I gather a mirror-full of moonlight to trade for my supper.”

It was probably only a shadow falling across its snout, but the rat seemed to frown.

“As though you could do any better in weather like this,” she scoffed, then sighed. “If only I could figure out how to capture stardust, I’d never go hungry again.”

If moonlight gleamed like glass, starlight would glitter like diamonds.

And like diamonds, it would be worth so much more.

Both forms of light could be cut and shaped into sparkling necklaces and delicate rings; into golden or silver-blue thread, ribbon, and rope; into glinting ever-lit chandeliers. But whereas moonlight was fleeting, starlight was forever.

At least, that’s what all the stories whispered in the streets of Warybone told.

Rooney wasn’t sure about all that, but gathering a twinkling from the stars above would prove a thing or two to those roughhouse boys. That she was as good as them.

That she was better than them. For they’d never caught a bit of starlight either. They would beg her to show them how she’d done it.

“One day,” she muttered.

Rooney kicked a stone in her path and stuffed her hands into her pockets. Thistle Hill stood in the distance. The highest point in all of Warybone, it was the perfect place for catching moonlight, but it was also the spot the roughhouse boys had claimed as their own.

She would just have to avoid them as best she could.

The Monty followed her up the narrowed street, its little claws scratching over the stones. Rooney’s eyes flicked to the Tower of Thistle, rising dark and straight into the night. The roof shimmered.

“Do you think the stories are true? That starlight sturdies the tower?” The rat made no reply and only slipped closer to her heels. “Well, I think it’s true. Come on.”

The hill inclined slowly, with cottages sitting crooked on its slope. Where the land was too rocky or the hill too steep, blackberry bushes grew untamed, and in these open spaces Rooney felt most wary.

Maybe the Monty did too. It skittered away, as if something had scared it off. Rooney froze. A tap-tap-tapping pelted the cobblestones. She looked all around, ready to dart off after the rat.

Then a scraping sound split the night. Rooney trembled.

After all, these days there were even worse things on the streets than the roughhouse boys.

Copyright © 2021 by Heather Kassner

About the Author

Heather Kassner loves thunderstorms, hummingbirds, and books. She lives with her husband in Arizona, waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the rain, photographing hummingbirds, and reading and writing strange little stories. She is also the author The Forest of Stars and The Bone Garden.

3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE PLENTIFUL DARKNESS, US Only.


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