Hello! If you’re new here, Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan is one of my all-time favourite books, so I’ve been very very excited for Darker By Four for a long time.
It didn’t disappoint in the slightest and it’s easily one of my new faves, I’m so glad we’ll get another book too!
My full review for book one can be found below.
About the Book
Title: Darker By Four
Series: Darker By Four #1
Author: June CL Tan
Publisher: Hodderscape (UK) HarperTeen (US)
Release Date: April 2nd 2024
Source: eARC provided by the publisher (this in no way affects my review which is honest and unbiased) and I also have bought the US and UK editions…
A girl who lost her magic. The boy who found it. And a city having one Hell of a time . . .
Rui is an Exorcist-in-training with one goal in mind – honing her magic to avenge her mother’s death.
Yiran is the black sheep of an illustrious family. The world would be at his feet – had he been born with magic.
But when an accident causes Rui’s power to transfer to Yiran, everything turns upside down. Without her magic, Rui has no tool for vengeance. With it, Yiran finally feels like he belongs.
As dangerous monsters overrun the city, Rui will do whatever it takes to regain her power. Even if that means making a deal with a shadowy stranger to track down a god who does not wish to be found . . .
A sparkling urban fantasy with an achingly slow burn romance at its heart, Darker By Four is the perfect book for fans of Legendborn and The Mortal Instruments, as well as anyone looking to immerse themselves in a shadowy world brimming with magic.
I’m gonna be real honest here and say that this book will be harder to review than Jade Fire Gold, which is one of my all-time favourite books (and also written by June CL Tan) but, somehow, I loved Darker By Four even more.
First up, I read through this so quickly. It’s the quickest I’ve read through a book in over a year and that’s down to two reasons:
- June’s mentions of it since the first interviews (things like Jujutsu Kaisen were mentioned, my interest was well and truly at peak levels already)
- IT’S JUST SO GOOD.
This book is genuinely like all the coolest parts of animes mixed in with some Chinese mythology and then with some very lovely Easter Eggs, an entire cast of endearing main characters you’re rooting for alongside the found family elements that I adored in Jade Fire Gold and… I just really adored this whole package of a book. Figured I would, because of everything I knew about it going in, but my lord.
We have a mix of POVs in this book, three in total, with the most prominent being Rui; a girl who had her life saved as a baby, only to accidentally end up then being linked to the disappearance of one of the Ten Kings of Hell, the titular Four.
I loved all main perspectives, genuinely can’t say I disliked any chapters, but Rui’s character was one of my favourites. If you’re a fan of Bleach, she gave me strong Ichigo / Rukia vibes. If you’re unaware of Bleach then basically Rui is an absolutely kickass young woman but you can absolutely tell it’s because of how big her heart is that she’s like that.
Early in Rui’s chapters we also meet Zizi, her lovable friend usually chilling in PJs, because why not? Upon our second meeting with him, just about a third into the book, he very bluntly says that Rui is everything to him. And he lives up to that throughout. (He’s my absolute favourite character, for several reasons)
Yiran is very different from Rui and Zizi, but another main perspective we encounter. He’s grown up entirely without magic, albeit from a family renown for their magical abilities, and very rich. “Poor little rich boy” as someone calls him though, he just can’t seem to win his grandfather’s approval no matter what the situation is. He’s introduced as a character with a huge wall up, but you definitely warm up to him throughout the story.
An outlying perspective we have is Nikai, a Reaper who kind of has a personality that reminded me of Aziraphale from Good Omens. He can’t even bring himself to call himself a Reaper, using a term far sweeter instead. He just wants to help bring his friend and King back however he can.
Time is, unfortunately of the essence. Because after so long with Hell being unbalanced it’s causing problems there and for humans, with some humans even turning into monsters called Revenants (kind of like vampires, they feed off humans).
Rui herself is a trainee Exorcist, and part of her role as that involves hunting Revenants. When she inexplicably performs a very powerful spell, one of the Kings assigns her to the role of finding Four, on top of everything else she has to deal with.
Romance-wise, we have a lovely dash of friends-to-lovers for one match up and a queer enemies-to-lovers, I’m hoping we’ll get more of both in book two, but book one’s taste of both is definitely enjoyable.
Likewise though, book one low-key ripped my heart out at the end. Have you ever read a book and cared so much for the main characters that you go ‘okay, as long as they’re fine Hell and everything else doesn’t matter’? Because that was me with Darker By Four. I just want these characters to be happy and I’m hoping we see that by the end of book two.
Will you be preordering this?
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