When Darkness Begins by Tina O'Hailey #BookReview #BlogTour

If you could change time to save your first love—even if it meant turning your back on the universe—would you?

It is time for the Vechey youth to earn their place as time-guardians. The near-immortal Vechey protect the universe from the devastating Manipulators—devourers of souls, mindless seekers of chaos. First, the youth must survive a mysterious and deadly ritual created by the all-powerful clan leader Eterili. Having regenerated thousands of times with the birth of each universe, Eterili is taking this one as hers and bending all in it to her grand designs. 

Catha’s time-slipping skills are underdeveloped. She is time-blind—unable to see through time, unable to protect herself from the ritual. The Vechey shun her for being different. Her parents ignore her as if she were already dead.

Aithagg loves Catha unconditionally and will do anything to save her. He tries desperately to unlock the ritual’s mysteries and find a way to help Catha survive with him. Or will saving Catha enable the Manipulators to destroy the universe?

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for When Darkness Begins today. Many thanks to Tina O'Hailey, Black Rose Writing and Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

Having thoroughly enjoyed  the first 'Darkness Universe' novel, Absolute Darkness, I jumped at the chance to read When Darkness Begins. It's probably best described as a prequel, although it's soon obvious that this is not a series which follows a straightforward timeline. Therefore, Brandy - a major character in the previous book - still features a little here, even though the story is mostly concerned with Alexander's past.
When Alexander was young, he was called Aithagg and the main narrative of When Darkness Begins is concerned with his teenage years. Aithagg is a Vechey, a near-immortal being who can see and pass through time. The Vechey are tasked with protecting the world from the Manipulators - malevolent beings who exist with the overwhelming drive to destroy time. Manipulators must live a linear life but they are energy beings with the ability to move hosts after the body they inhabit has been killed. Humans are known to the Vechey as Linears and are a useful source of food - but more of that later.
As a young Vechey, Aithagg lives with his parents in what is known as their Home-Time, where the Vechey's founder, Eterili brings her tribe to grow their young and prepare them for their ritual which will lead each of them to their individual frozen times. Being a Vechey sounds a rather lonely existence but some bond before the ritual which allows them to be pushed to the same Frozen-Time. The young Aithagg is an inquisitive young man who is described by others as an old soul. He quickly realises that his friend, Catha isn't like him and she doesn't have the same abilities as most of their peers.
There's a rather tragic inevitability to When Darkness Begins as it becomes evident that Catha is unlikely to survive the ritual but even if she does, her time with Aithagg is likely to be short. Their relationship quickly moves from friendship to love and although they are very young, it's a convincing partnership built on trust. Meanwhile, in Main-Time (our time), Alexander is still trying to protect Brandy; this links directly to events which occurred in Absolute Darkness but they are fully explained here so readers can approach these novels in either order.
Although it may seem a complicated concept - and it's certainly complex - When Darkness Begins isn't difficult to understand and there is a helpful guide to the various times at the start of the book. It doesn't necessarily all make sense at the start but gradually everything is explained. The plotting here is really quite clever and there are some surprises I didn't expect at all. Aithagg/Alexander is a fantastic character and I loved that even though I had become invested in his relationship with Brandy in Absolute Darkness, I still cared about Catha and found myself desperately hoping that things could perhaps work out for them.
The Vechey and Manipulators are such imaginative creations and it's a really interesting - and slightly unsettling - idea to think that there are beings who are effectively in control of our lives. I'm particularly intrigued by the similarity of Vechey to vampires - they feed on the blood of Linears (although don't have to kill them) for energy and are destroyed by sunlight. There are a few mentions of fangs here too, especially with regards to Eterili  - who it must be said is a truly disturbing figure! The fascinating world Tina O'Hailey has invented is vividly described and though obviously fantasy, it is somehow believable. I'm really looking forward to discovering what else lies in store for Alexander but really enjoyed this invaluable look at his past, and the history of his people. Ingenious, offbeat and engaging - I'm definitely a fan of this series.

When Darkness Begins is published by Black Rose Writing and can be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Tina O’Hailey is a professor in animation and game programming, caver and occasional mapper of grim, wet, twisty caves (if she owes a friend a favor or loses a bet), whose passion is to be secluded on a mountain and to write whilst surrounded by small, furry dogs and hot coffee. Tina was once struck by lightning.

She has served as an artistic trainer for Walt Disney Feature Animation, Dreamworks and Electronic Arts. Any movie credit she has is minimal and usually found in the special thanks section. The meager credits do not account for the great honor it was to teach talented artists who worked on numerous feature films and games.

She has authored animation textbooks “Rig it Right” and “Hybrid Animation” published by Focal Press and the Darkness Universe novels “Absolute Darkness” and “When Darkness Begins” published by Black Rose Writing.