Darkborn by Alison Sinclair In the city of Minhorne, Lightborn and Darkborn have always lived side by side, despite the fact that light is fatal to Darkborn and vice versa. Dr. Balthasar Hearne, Darkborn, gets a knock on his door just as the sunrise bell is ringing, and obeying ancient laws of hospitality, opens it. It’s his estranged younger brother’s former lover, now betrothed to a high society lord. Before next day comes, she has given birth to twins whose father, she impossibly claims, came to her in the day. Yet the unwanted twins appear to be sighted, impossible for Darkborn. Bal’s sister, the attending midwife, takes them to safety. That night, Bal is attacked and beaten by ruffians demanding the twins. He is saved by his Lightborn neighbor, but as they flee, they find his wife, Telmaine, and two daughters returning home from a society visit, unexpectedly accompanied by Baron Ishmael di Studier. The ruffians snatch the older girl on their way out. Despite his title, Ishmael is disreputable, a known mage who uses his powers to hunt the Shadowdwellers on the borders – important, but hardly proper for a baron. And only the Lightborn consider magic use truly acceptable. Lady Telmaine herself has magic, which she has concealed even from her husband her whole life and never learned to use. But now, with the plot rapidly thickening and both her husband and daughters’ lives in danger, she may need to risk her position in society.
This novel worked well for me. It has an interesting premise and a taut plot without overwhelming with too many characters or details of the world. The characters were sympathetic. The kidnapped child fell just under my low threshold for child or parental suffering (I won’t read books, thriller or thoughtful, that center on a child’s death), and the thriller-aspect just the right pace to tempt me to stay up a few minutes late without keeping me up all night. The only downside is that (common for fantasy) it’s the first of a trilogy, the next volume due out next year, and the mystery behind the mystery isn’t solved this book.