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DARKER BY FOUR by June CL Tan Kirkus Star


by June CL Tan

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2024
ISBN: 9780063283848
Publisher: HarperTeen

When a god of the underworld goes missing, the balance between worlds is upset, leading to an increase in the Blight, a supernatural virus, and the number of infected souls called Revenants.

Lin Rui is the top cadet at the Exorcist Guild; she’s skilled in combat against Revenants and possesses unusually high levels of magic due to the circumstances surrounding her birth. Her primary ambition is to exact revenge on the Hybrid monster responsible for her mother’s death. Rather than grotesque monsters, Hybrids are sentient Revenants who resemble humans—and many people don’t believe they even exist. Rui secretly visits a young man named Zizi, an eclectic underground mage who specializes in powerful spells, and feelings of attraction grow between them. Their fates become entangled with that of Song Yiran, a nonmagical normie, when he’s attacked by a Hybrid. When nothing else works, Rui uses one of Zizi’s experimental spells, transferring her magic to Yiran, who’s able to destroy the Hybrid, saving them both. Fearing the political repercussions of using Zizi’s spell, which has left Rui a normie and Yiran brimming with spiritual energy, the three seek to secretly reverse the spell. The tight narrative shifts viewpoints: One storyline follows underworld god Ten as he searches for his missing brother, Four, leading to a climax that pulls everything together. This duology opener is richly infused with Chinese and Southeast Asian cultural elements.

A darkly exhilarating ride rich with unraveling secrets and intrigue.

(cultural note, author’s note) (Fantasy. 14-18)