Review – Darkness Sleeping by Jen Pretty

Title Darkness Sleeping (Origins of Morgana Le Fay #1)

Author Jen Pretty

Description from Amazon

Morgana has spent years in an orphanage in Pons Aelius, but at 18, she must leave her temporary home and head for the convent where she plans to spend the rest of her days.

An old woman who lives in the attic chooses Morgana as her student and begins the task of teaching her to read every day at noon.  One day, the old woman gives Morgana a new book and that book will change her life forever. 

Suddenly finding herself on the run from the religious zealots, she takes her horse and travels across the great country in search of a place she only knows by name: Avalon.
Will Morgana find this mythical place, and will she finally find a home there?

Or will the darkness sleeping within her rise as she faces forces that threaten to end her very life?

Initial Thoughts

I really enjoy King Arthur retellings and I thought this book sounded really interesting. Morgana Le Fay is typically a villain in the story and I was very interested to see how her backstory would be portrayed when she is the star.

Some Things I Liked

  • A villain’s backstory. I got all kinds of Joaquin Phoenix Joker vibes from this book. It gave so much clarity and background to a villain that I thought I knew well. I loved that.
  • History. I really enjoyed the history woven into the story. I hope to see more of that in the next books but I really enjoyed the mentions of the Saxons and Romans brought up in this book. I thought it grounded the mythological elements of the story and made it feel more like a historical fiction story (which I loved).

One Thing I Didn’t Like

  • I get that this is the story of a villain, but I was somewhat disappointed that there was so much death. Morgana was not exactly remorseful (the scene at the school) and I think I was secretly wishing she’d become a hero. I think I have to embrace the fact that this is the story of how she becomes a villain (and not a redemption story).

Series Value

This story is definitely interesting. The ending left me desperate for the next installment (a certain character from the original legend makes an appearance 😉). I will continue reading this series when the next book comes out (later this month).

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed this book. I thought the story was captivating and I am excited to read the next installment. I also was surprised how much I enjoyed getting inside the mind of a villain. This was a change of pace for me as I usually want to read stories of heroes. Morgana is a rich and complex character and I can’t wait to read more about her regardless of how her story plays out.


Recommendations for Further Reading

  • Kingdom Cold by Brittni Chenelle – if you enjoy retelling of the legend of King Arthur, definitely give this series a try. Also, the Morgan / Morgana character has a really interesting story.
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – if you enjoy a likable villain, check out this series. The Darkling is one of my all time favorite villains.
  • Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta – if you like the Arthurian element but are looking for a more futuristic / sci-fi setting, give this book a try.

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