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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will gain some insight into life in 15th century Brittany and France, especially for royalty, nobility, and soldiers. There's some insight into what it's like for women when they are legally and socially the property of a man. Some insight into ancient gods being absorbed into the Catholic Church's canon of saints, and whether or not ancient worship practices are heretical.
Women are strong and smart; they have a lot to offer and should be listened to, not treated like property. Emphasizes, especially for girls and women, the self confidence you can build by learning new skills, becoming competent at them, and being able to do things for yourself. Also emphasizes the importance of close bonds of family and friendship, that working together people are stronger than anyone is on their own, the healing power of finding acceptance for who you are, and learning how to deal with fears so they don't get in the way of future happiness.
Positive Role Models
Genevieve and Sybella are trained assassins, so they're highly skilled in stealth, fighting, poisoning, and healing. They avoid killing if they possibly can, but they do if they must. Both model bravery and compassion. Genevieve is angry and fearful at first, but through taking action to fix past mistakes she learns how to accept help and find acceptance for herself. She's always wanted to make a positive difference, and her strengths are her senses of purpose and duty; her commitment to a cause and to loved ones; and her loyalty. Sybella learns how to keep fear from getting in the way herself and her ability to help others. She's smart, quick thinking, politically savvy, and loyal to her cause and her loved ones.
Violence & Scariness
No gory descriptions but a few mentions of blood from a battle, a few fights, and assassinations. Weapons include swords, crossbows, knives, cannons, and arrows. Fire is used in combat and searing skin and screaming are mentioned. Throat slitting, stabbing, and the sound of crunching bones are mentioned. Past sexual abuse of a child and the possibility of further abuse are implied. A past rape is mentioned and a central character is the result of it. Killing by pushing out of a high window. An attempted poisoning causes violent retching. A combatant is nearly severed in two. A woman relives grief and trauma from a lost baby; it's not clearly stated whether it was a miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death. A magic ritual uses a drop of blood.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few kisses, caressing under a breast, and implied sex mentions lying down, being covered with the other's body, and bodies pressing together.
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"Merde" (French for "s--t"), "rutting hell," "damn," "t--ts" in an exclamation, "whores," "piss."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens of age in the historical setting drink wine. No excess is shown, but occasionally others having had too much to drink is mentioned.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Robin LaFever's Igniting Darkness is historical fiction with a small dash of magical fantasy set in France and Brittany in the 1490s. It's the continuation and ending of a duology that started with Courting Darkness. Reading them in order is recommended because this one picks up right where the other left off. Getting oriented to the characters and their situations might be difficult if you don't. Violence is not very frequent and there are no gory descriptions, but it adds up over 550 or so pages. There are stabbings, poisoning, battles with swords, cannons, arrows, and fire. Blood is mentioned but not described in detail. Past sexual abuse of a child, rape, and loss of a baby or pregnancy (it's not clear exactly what happened) are mentioned. Sexy stuff is very light with a few instances of kissing, caressing, and implied sex once. No sensitive parts are mentioned or described. Strong language isn't frequent either and includes "merde" (French for "s--t"), "damn," and "hell." The main characters are strong female role models and the themes about valuing women for their strength and intelligence are explored. They also model loyalty and strong bonds of family and friendship.
Is It Any Good?
This very long series finale is absolutely loaded with palace intrigue, but falls far shorter on the action, adventure, romance, and even magic that many fans of Robin LaFever will be looking for. Igniting Darkness has so much of it, and some of it's pretty repetitive too, that the story sags and gets bogged down in places. That being said, Genevieve and Sybella remain compelling main characters, and switching to different points of view helps keep things moving along for the most part. And there's definitely still some action, including a large-scale battle, travel around Brittany, and ninja-like stealth. There's even a little bit of magic, but it's definitely takes more of a back seat compared to the first installment.
Teens will learn a lot about the real effects on women and girls of being considered a man's property, and will feel Genevieve and Sybella's frustrations at having their knowledge and skills ignored simply because they're women. They'll also easily relate to Genevieve as she struggles to repair the damage she's caused and recover her self-esteem. Sybella's fears about the future, and about controlling her emerging powers, also mirror what many teens feel when their lives are rapidly changing.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.