What do you do when your own gift is what sets you apart from everyone?
When the very thing that gives you an ability beyond what anyone else can do and makes you who you are, causes your family to disown and exile you to the mines.
The Dark Ability by D.K. Holmberg is a mystery filled tell of a teen boy named Rsiran. His ability to teleport, called sliding. And his quest to both understand and accept himself and his abilities. The second of which is to read a rare metal and craft dangerous weapons with it.
An ability that has been forbidden.
After being exiled and sentenced to the mines by his own father, Rsiran tries to be obedient and live up to his father’s expectations. But soon after beardly surviving an attempt on his life Rsiran uses his ability to escape the mines.
Sliding back to Elaeavn he finds his place amongst a group of thieves and comes up with a plot to make his own way by selling his forbidden weapons on the black market. Unfortunately a powerful person discovers what he can do and intends to use him for his own dark plot.
In my opinion the best part of the book was Rsiran.
He’s well thought out with depth, goals, and conflicts that force him to change and grow. His struggle between wanting to be a good son and wanting to be something more is quite relatable. As are his feelings of rejection and abandonment by the family that exiles him.
The mystery and intrigue in the book is also quite captivating and will make it hard to put the book down.
I found the concepts behind the world building rather fascinating and believe it could have been built into something phenomenal. However, unfortunately that’s where the positive points end.
The world building was not built up. It was left to rely on the bare-bones of the concepts alone and never given any real depth.
The character connections in the book are probably the worst I’ve ever seen. Rsiran makes friends with Brusus and his bandit group seemingly out of nowhere and suddenly they mean everything to him to the point he’s willing to break the law and die for them. The same goes for his romantic subplot.
And the overall plot itself is never really fleshed out. It begins with Rsiran’s struggles at home with his father and leads into his exile to the mines and the mystery he finds there. He’s then forced to use his powers to escape and begins working towards the goal of survival and making his own path. But that is interrupted by the bad guy. The bad guy then causes his goals and plans to shift to figuring out how to get out of their manipulation.
But then, in the end the story is just kind of left open.
I think with a little more thought and planning this book could have been the beginning of the epic fantasy story it was going for, but as it is it didn’t quite meet the mark for me.