In a the world of YA fantasy books, it is hard to stand out. There are a raft of YA demon books, and characters with supernatural gifts, but The Dark World, by Cara Lynn Shultz stands out by giving you two characters that you genuinely like, and root for, no matter how many standard tropes are used. Not that there is anything wrong with tropes in the first place – part of the reason I love the genre is because I know I’m going to get some evil demons, some more ‘complicated’ ones, a swoon-worthy guy, and a kick-ass heroine.
Paige Kelly is that heroine – she is fearless against the biggest threat any teenager could face… unpopularity. Sure, she’s not an exceptionally skilled fighter, or quite ready to be on the front-lines of a demon/warlock war, but she is a strong character nonetheless. Paige can see ghosts, which leads most of the school to think she is crazy. Instead of hiding and avoiding however, Paige talks back to the bullies, and keeps her head help high – never letting them bring her down. Forget the demons, this in itself sends a powerful message, and is what makes Paige such a wonderful character.
Logan, the love interest and demon slayer, could easily have been one of the many cute yet forgettable book-boyfriends. And yet somehow, Shultz has created someone memorable… Logan has flaws, is genuinely lacking in confidence in his romantic abilities, while being a little overconfident with his demon slaying skills. This disparity can often feel like the character has two personalities, but Schultz manages it seamlessly.
The actual plot is exciting and fun, pitting warlocks and demons against each other, with Paige right in the middle. The Dark World manages to get through a lot of mythology without feeling overstuffed, keeping a fast pace throughout. There are demons after Paige because of the gift she has, and she is instrumental in winning the war. We don’t get to find out if the war is won, and by which side, because it is only #1 of a trilogy, but I am particularly excited to see what Books #2 and #3 will hold.