Title: The Dark Realm (Feylands #1)
Author: Anthea Sharp
Date Read: 04/09/14 – 08/09/14
It’s no secret that I enjoy anything to do with traditional representations of Fey creatures. When I saw a bundle of 10 Fey-related stories for 99c, I snapped it up, figuring that even if I ended up only reading one of the stories in it, I’d still get my money’s worth.
The Dark Realm is the first of the Feylands trilogy, and is a clever blend of sci-fi and fantasy. In the future, complete immersion in virtual reality is how video games are played. Feylands is only in beta, but Jennett’s dad works for a top gaming company, so she’s able to access it early. When she loses a battle with the Dark Queen, her mortal essence is taken, and unless Jennett can find a champion to play the game through with her and win it back, her real life could be in danger.
Tam Lin lives in a poor, rough neighbourhood that he wishes he could escape. He cares for his mother and his little brother, often missing school because of these responsibilities. He uses gaming as an escape, having won a decent console in a competition. When Jennett sees Tam play, she knows he’s the person she needs to as act as her champion in Feyland, but first she has to convince him she’s not just a spoiled little rich girl and honestly does need his help.
The world-building and the plot are what made this story for an older reader like me. If it had been set in an every day high-school setting, I wouldn’t have had much interest. However, the contrasting descriptions of Jennet and Tam’s neighbourhoods, as well as the in-game descriptions of Feyland are what really drew me in. When aspects of the game started bleeding through into the real world, things started feeling really intense.
While I am yet to get around to reading the other two books in the series, I certainly intend to, as Tam and Jennett certainly aren’t out of danger yet. If you are familiar with the traditional ballad, “The Ballad of Tam Lin”, then the story will take on an added layer of meaning. I didn’t know of it until I read it at the back of this book, and I still enjoyed the story. Recommended!