Updated on August 5, 2015
21. ‘The Dark Volume’ by G.W. Dahlquist
This book follows on from ‘The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters‘, and is the second in Dahlquist’s pretty-covered trilogy. I was a little confused at the beginning, because I thought the characters had washed up in Macklenberg, but didn’t seem to come up against a language barrier. In fact the airship had crashed before they got there, so they were still in the unnamed country of the first book, and were able to talk to the unfriendly, unwelcoming villagers without trouble.
I read this book a little quicker than the last one and I think it definitely suffers from Middle Book Syndrome. It was nice to pick up with the same characters again – Miss Temple remains my favourite, and she’s become much more complex during the two books – and I liked that the major ‘bad guys’ from ‘Glass Books’ started out at a major disadvantage. They were no longer the seemingly untouchable, almost superhuman villains they had been: the cracks started to show at the end of the last book, and in this one their entire edifice had come crashing down.
However, Dahlquist faced the problem of having killed off a significant number of characters in the last book. He had to bring in a whole raft of new baddies. If the previous set of villains were difficult to tell apart, the new lot were practically indistinguishable. It seemed that Dahlquist was in such a rush to get on and tell the story (which remains a pretty exciting tale, full of twists and turns) that he didn’t give much time to making us care about the new characters.
I liked the intrigue surrounding Elöise – who is she? who was she before? what does she want now? – and I loved Miss Temple’s internal battle with the issue of her own innocence. If she has all but lived defiling experiences through the glass books, then is she truly untainted by them? But once again every characters’ motivations and betrayals ended up tangling together, so that half the time I didn’t understand what they were all talking about, or why they made the plans they made. This is probably due to my inability to process crime/thriller plots: I feel like Dahlquist does explain everything, but it turns me off so I can’t follow.
There were several other things that irritated me. ‘Marrow sparge’ is a stupid name for anything, no matter how far-fetched a gadget it is. Miss Temple is almost murdered (again) at Harschmort House, but she escapes in the garden, breaks back into the building and then has a bath. And finally, I wish the baddies would just kill Miss Temple/Chang/Dr. Svenson when they get the chance. They constantly let them go, saying there’s no ‘advantage’ to killing them yet, or that they’d rather kill them when they’re more awake so they can feel the pain. No. Kill them and be done with it, like any villain with half a brain should.
“[Miss Temple considered] how violence, rather than gold, was the true currency of her world – and how in such a world, to her sharp shame, she remained a very wealthy girl indeed.”
I borrowed this one from my housemate, like the first in the trilogy, in preparation for reading the third book, which was sent to me by the Penguin Proof Group.
Read my review of the last in the series, ‘The Chemickal Marriage‘.
If you enjoyed my review, why not buy the book and let me know what you think?