The Darkening Readalong: Day 2!

Beautiful photo by @chapterswithtea!

Hi Fairy Friends!

Welcome to day 2 of our readalong of The Darkening. I hope you’re all loving the book so far!

Today we’re reading from chapter 8 to the end of chapter 12. Let’s goooo!

Please be warned, the following section will include spoilers for The Darkening by Sunya Mara, from chapters 8 to 12. Please only read on if you’ve finished this section!


I’m feeling on edge and unsure as Vesper, in disguise, tries to convince Casvian to take her on as an apprentice. Cas seems pompous, and I’m not at all surprised that he seems this way… but Dalca seems oddly nice. I don’t know what to make of him. To make him even more confusing, when Cas says no, Dalca is the one that steps in and says he has no reason to turn her down and gets him to agree to it…

Well, Vesper has her way in. It all feels a bit too close for comfort to me though! What do you all think?

That night, sleep eludes Vesper, and she eventually gets up and heads out into the Ven, and below the balcony is a half-clad (saucy) Wardana. Vesper isn’t at all surprised to realise said half-clad Wardana, is Dalca. I feel like romance is brewing, but I don’t understand how when he’s so high up the ranks of an establishment that Vesper hates? Hmmm…

So, Vesper’s first task as Casvian’s apprentice is to, wait for it, sort out a room of junk. I would be furious if I were Vesper, what a waste of time! I suppose someone has to do it though. Vesper doesn’t bite though, she tidies it as requested, when he comes back and she asks if she passed, all he says is that she cleaned out a closet, and then orders her to meet him tomorrow at the same time. Yeeeesh, DEFINITELY no romance or friendship between these two!

Vesper’s second task is to clean a room drenched in tar. Perfect.

Vesper gets to work, cleverly using a dissolver and “Very Shiny Sealer” and some reflecting beams of light to clean the room. The sun needs time to work though, and armed with that knowledge Vesper leaves the sun to do its work and goes to explore. 

I’m seriously impressed that Vesper is essentially using others’ contempt for Casvian to get to where she needs… and it works? Other Wardana just trust Vesper when she says she was told to go to Casvian in the first but he never told her how to get there. She’s lead to a hallway filled with other apprentices and assistants and just told to wait. I guess it didn’t exactly go to plan then.

Just in time, Dalca swoops in and the crowd around Vesper watch in awe. She uses it as her chance to sneak away unnoticed and do some searching. 

After quite a bit of searching with no luck, Dalca appears again, he hasn’t noticed Vesper, so he doesn’t try to hide his movements as he presses a button that uncovers a hidden door, and doesn’t see Vesper slip in behind him. But… it’s not Vesper’s father that Dalca is here to visit. It’s his own father. Vesper, along with everyone else, was under the impression that Dalca’s father died when the old Regia was assassinated. 

Vesper is uncovering secrets that seem too close to comfort. This is clearly something Dalca is trying to hide. She overhears Dalca telling his father that he’s found “him” – Vesper’s Pa – and he knows the secret and Dalca can get it out of him and save his Mother. What on earth is going on?

It’s over all too soon, a woman catching Vesper snooping and disrupting her eavesdropping. The lie that Casvian sent her to find Dalca flows easily from her tongue and the woman believes her… but assures Vesper the prince won’t want to be disturbed right now.

Ever-calculating, Vesper asks if she needs help carrying the linens bundled in her arms, and by doing so, sees what, or who, is kept inside these rooms. They’re stormtouched. She quickly works out Dalca’s father must be too. Some of them are Wardana, cursed in the line of duty. She folds the linens along with Alidan, until the nurse reappears and tells Vesper Dalca is leaving and she better run if she wants to catch him.

Dalca is obviously surprised to see her there. She hasn’t practised a lie or excuse for this one and has to admit she saw him and followed. She does however, think on her feet and come up with a lie to flatter Dalca. I really sense chemistry here but I can’t work out how Dalca and Vesper would ever work together considering the differences in their beliefs.

The way my heart stopped when Dalca says he knows her secret. Ahhhh. It’s not that secret though, he doesn’t quite know everything. Just that she’s not a third ringer. He… doesn’t seem angry though? He’s shocking me at every turn.

Any subtlety Vesper harboured has just yeeted itself out the window after she blurts out angry questions about why he would burn down a home for the stormtouched. He says it was his fault… but he didn’t do it. He told his people to watch the home, but having people watch it drew enough attention to it that The Regia’s Guard caught wind of it and took it into their own hands. So it wasn’t Dalca, or Casvian, who actually set fire to Amma’s home. I still don’t think I trust them, or definitely not Casvian at least. Dalca tells her he’s having the home rebuilt, just like back at Amma’s when he tried to clear up the mess, he thinks there’s an easy fix for everything.

Rebuilding the house won’t bring Amma, Jem, Gia or any of the others back though. When she tells him she has to go, he touches her arm and says not yet and then… there’s a moment. I knew I was right about the chemistry between them!!!

I don’t understandddddd. One minute they’re definitely flirting, the next Dalca is practically threatening her? I swear I’m almost glad that Vesper’s heading back to that tar filled room.

And she’s back in time for the room to be spotless and to act as if she’s been here the whole time. Smooooth. 

It’s time for Iz and Vesper to do some sleuthing. They go through a hidden tunnel and Vesper’s worried it’s blasphemy, might have passed that point already Vesper…

Iz chides Vesper for her impatience. I think if I were Vesper I’d be the same though, I’d want to spend every waking moment (and middle of the night moment) searching for him. On the other hand, I completely understand Iz’s reasoning that this will help the fifth ringers. Vesper of all people should be happy about that.

The tunnel leads them into the fourth ring, as they’re walking, Vesper catches wind of people talking about her father. Then they bump into Im from the knitting circle. Everyone seems to know now that Alcanar Vale is alive. Im tells Vesper it might not be upto the prince whether Vale lives or dies, it’s so huge that it might end up being the choice of the Regia’s Guard. Well… that does not sound hopeful, does it?

The leader of the Regia’s Guard, Cas’s father, lost his wife in the rebellion. He was actually a good friend of Vale’s so they think Ragno will hold him responsible, Im thinks he’ll push for “the Trials”… If the condemned survives three Trials, they’ll be freed… but no one wins the Trials. This is looking… optimistic… It feels even worse that when the Trials occur, it’s a festivity, entertainment for the city it’s held in. 

No. No no no. Animals and cats are my weakness, I can’t believe there are children forcing cats into the Storm to make them like them. Do not like. Very sad.

When Vesper gets back to the secret passage, poor Iz has fallen asleep!

Then he’s pushing Vesper into the secret door and telling her to wait for his signal… What’s happening?

My nosey self is very relieved that there’s a tiny gap between the door for Vesper to watch through. It’s Dalca, again! I swear he is wherever Vesper is. Iz quickly conjures up the lie that he’s here to visit his mother. Again, the news of Dalca sending Iz’s mother a package of ehr favourite palace sweets has just thrown me… Is he good or bad? ‘Cause that’s a very sweet thing to do. Iz tries to push Dalca about Vale… but he says he can’t tell him anything yet, he needs to fix things first. He also tells Iz that Cas is researching a particular ikon. Strange. It seems like Iz is left out of the loop a little, and both he and Dalca seem to know it. Dalca is even aware that he needs to do better.

Then suddenly Dalca is asking about Vesper… does he know she’s hidden behind the door? Does he even know there is a door? He doesn’t bite when Iz says Vesper is pretty, just says that he gets the feeling that Vesper doesn’t think he’s good enough. Good enough for what?

Dalca and Iz walk away, and Vesper makes her own way back through the tunnel, wary of Dalca. 

It’s time for Vesper’s next apprentice session with Casvian. Wonder what she’s cleaning today. Before she arrives, Vesper makes a sneaky stop by the room Iz brought her to on her very first night. She strikes gold, Cas is having a chat of some sorts with his father, the leader of the Regia’s Guard, the man that wants her father dead, the man who had Amma’s house burnt down. So they’re hoping to find an ikon that will solve their problems… what problems? The Storm maybe? The rebellion?

It also sounds like Ragno is trying to convince Cas to join the Regia’s guard? He declines… I still don’t trust him, but there must be some good in him to refuse that, ‘cause the Regia’s guard are certainly not my favourite people so far. 

Ragno leaves and Vesper makes her way into the room…. Cas hands her a tome, and draws a mark, then tells her to look through the tome and try to find that exact mark… Is he unknowingly having Alcanar Vale’s daughter search for the ikon that could save him???

They’re interrupted by someone coming to inform Cas of Dacla’s scrummaging… he asked them to inform him if Dalca was… and that’s all we know. That’s enough for Cas to go storming out, and Vesper follows.

Dalca is fighting against not one, not two, but three opponents, and one of them is no other than Rango Haveli. Then Dalca and Ragno are head to head. Every time Dalca falls, he pulls himself back up, until eventually Ragno drops his staff and declares that no one can defeat their prince. Ragno isn’t done yet though, he declares that Dalca has found the traitor Alcanar Vale, the Trials will begin in six days, not only that, but Dalca will be Trialmaker.

Vesper tries to give chase as Cas scurries off, but she’s too late. As she heads back to the reading room, Dalca is there. He thinks it’s Cas barging in and starts to say that he needs him to fix him up, but sees it’s Vesper and stops himself before he says anything else. She congratulates him on being Trialmaker, but he doesn’t seem too happy. It’s supposed to be an honour, but his words sound stilted, practised. He admits to Vesper that he does not like the Trials, but in trying to do good he’s caught up in evil. Then, after another lil romantic moment, he’s gone.

After a chat with Iz back in her room, Vesper utilises some of the ikons she found in Cas’s tome to practice enlarging and shrinking back her father’s book, pulling it from where it sits in her locket, and it works! Although, I’m not sure it’s a clever move, since Vale was adamant it shouldn’t get into the wrong hands…

That was another intense section!

Are you enjoying The Darkening so far? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you tomorrow for day three!


29 thoughts on “The Darkening Readalong: Day 2!

  1. I’m pretty iffy about Izamal’s loyalties, but i’m enjoying his presence. It’s also fun to see Dalca’s interest in Vesper growing. I’ve enjoyed the set of Herculean type tasks that Casvian set Vesper to do so far. Plus this new addition of Casvian’s father is adding a fun new aspect to the story.

    Does anyone else visualize the rings as ascending higher on a big hill or mountain as the number gets smaller, with the palace on the summit? I guess I started out the book just picturing it as all flatbush/low hilly land but if Vesper’s always able to see the fifth ring at the edges it sounds like she gets to higher vantage points.

    I’m still waiting on more information about the rebellion and how the storm came to be.

  2. Dalca is fast becoming a very interesting and mysterious character! Can’t wait to read more about his backstory!

  3. I am still enjoying it so far. I’m intrigued to see what will happen next. I felt this part was a bit slower than the first, but that’s OK. I’m also excited to see all the developments that will happen, and is everyone what they seems at first glance?

  4. I really enjoyed day two, this book has totally hooked me in!

    I won’t lie, Cas has really started to grow on me in this section. Especially once it was confirmed he didn’t have anything to do with Amma’s house burning down. He’s prickly and petty but I kind of like him!

    As for the hints of romance between Vesper and Dalca, I’m not so sure. It seems so predictable – the revolutionary and the prince – but I don’t see how it would work in this situation? I’m not feeling it at the moment, but we’ll see how it progresses.

    I think the plot is definitely going to pick up in the next section. Especially now we have a deadline for the Trials. I’m excited to find out more about what these Trials will be like! I’m guessing they’ll be like big, dangerous puzzle rooms.

  5. Another great set of chapters, and I’m fully immersed in the story, storm, and politics! I am also intrigued to learn more about the rebellion that happened 10 years or so ago. We know that Vesper’s parents were leading it, and we hear a bit of the repercussions on both sides. I hope we get learn a bit more about this first rebellion. (Otherwise this would also make a great prequel!). Dalca keeps surprising me, and I wonder what he has up his sleeves. Is there more to his agenda than just saving the city?? And Iz…as much as I love him, I am still a bit wary about him. What are you hiding, Iz? What do you have planned??

    Now to the next set of chapters, to hopefully figure it out!

    P.s. I am really enjoying this book a lot! It keeps surprising me!

  6. Dalca is turning out to be the sort of Prince I suspected from the start. Casvian is a one who has surprised me so far. The character development is intriguing and I’m interested to see that parents are at odds with their children…the best precursor to change.

  7. I’m hooked to this book! This might be one of my favorite reads for this month. I’m kinda hooked to the story. It’s so different from anything that I’ve really read. The only thing that gives similar vibes/magic system is the FullMetal Alchemist series (definitely check it out if you like manga and enjoy this book).

    I definitely just wanted to keep reading past this checkpoint. She figured out how to use the Ikons to get into her fathers journal!

  8. Lots has happened so far, I’m really liking Vesper and Iz’s friendship so far. I’m still a little wary of Dalca right now but time will tell. I’m interested to see how the trials go/what is involved with them. For the most part right now the book is pretty meh for me but I’m hoping it picks up

  9. Casvian not being a jerk (or at least, a tolerable snob rather than outright murdering scum) was a real surprise to me! I was prepared for him to really make Vesper’s life brutal but so far he’s just been a basic bully and she’s handled him like a champ.

    I was also relieved when she managed to figure out some real ikonomancy on her own with unshrinking the book. I’d been waiting for someone to ask her to prove that she has any talent and worried she’d fail miserably due to how much her dad sheltered her.

  10. I’m so glad the book picked up the pace in these chapters! Dalca and Vesper are slowly kindling some feelings for each other, I mean blue eyes with a ring of silver around them don’t hurt to look at. I think it’s interesting that Cas’s father will most likely be Dalca’s true enemy and I look forward to who Cas will side with in the future (they’re giving me Draco and Lucius vibes, especially with the hair lol). Also, I wonder if the Knitting squad in the third ring will have anything to do in the future, like knitting together large ikons? I was wondering if there’s more to this world than the Storm, and then Iz hinted at that story of the King and Queen so I wonder if that’s setting up something. I’m eager to start the next readalong!

  11. Lots has happened so far and I’m so intrigued about the whole politics of this world and what actually happened with the rebellion. So I hope we get to find out more information about that. I am loving the little glimpses of romance that we are getting from Vesper and Dalca. This book has me hooked, plus I’m loving the idea of the trials, so intrigued with what happens with them. I cannot wait to read the next part.

  12. I really want to know what is wrong with Dalca’s mother and what he wants from Vesper’s father… some kind of healing Ikon?

    All 3 of the boys are growing on me, even Cas.

    I expect the trials will be brutal. If Dalca needs to keep PAa alive maybe he will volunteer to fight in the trials on Pa’s behalf?

  13. This book is so, so good. I am enjoying it so much and I’m so glad that Fairyloot put it in a monthly box, otherwise I would have never paid attention to it. I’m intrigued by all of Dalca’s inner circle and I think Iz has his own agenda. I enjoy the enigmatic Cas the most and I’m pretty sure that I ship him and Vesper together, rather than Dalca and Vesper.

  14. I’m still not completely feeling it – Dalca and Vesper don’t seem to have that much chemistry but I can see some feelings kindling. It seems way too easy for Vesper to run around and find information, but I guess it makes sense that Casvian doesn’t tell anyone anything so people feel bad for Vesper and tell her where to go. Dalca is a typical love interest, especially when he said he has to do some evil in order to do good. Hopefully I vibe more with this book in the next section!

  15. The way I wanted to hate Dalca and Cas, but am now feeling conflicted…

    I mean, I guess all great characters are a good mixture of good and bad. But I really disliked them, especially after the fire. But now it seems like there is much more going on here, and that the older generations (re: Cas’s dad) are the real problem, while the younger generation is trying their best to help people/ stop the Storm.

  16. Fell a bit behind bc LIFE happened but wow this book does not stop! Full thriller ahead. I feel like I don’t know who to trust anymore.

  17. I honestly can’t wait to see more of Dalca. All of these boys have such a depth to them, it’s great to see! And who doesn’t love a trio of bad boys 😉

  18. Okay why is our prince creeping up on Vesper 🧐 I can see that we’re really supposed to feel for the prince but shouldn’t he have more power then what he currently has?

    Also happy to see the trials part coming into play now but curious to see what vesper will do.

  19. Cas’ storyline is fascinating. If things end up working out, I could definitely see Vesper and him having a love/hate friendship.

    Vesper is stressing me out with all of her snooping. I’m a day behind because I had to put the book down to calm the anxiety I was getting when Dalca caught her in the castle!

    I think there’s a lot that Vesper doesn’t know. I want to know more about her father. Because I can see this going south really quickly if she’s not accounting for vital missing details about what really happened during the rebellion.

    Dalca is also intriguing. He’s every bit the morally grey character I was anticipating. And I love it.

    “To do the one good thing that I must do, I find myself caught in a thousand small evils.”

    I think he’s fighting a bigger giant to do what he believes is right. And I think Cas’ dad is somehow tied up in that.

    Regardless, I’m excited to keep reading. I really like Vesper. I like how unafraid she is and how quick her wit is. She’s extremely clever.

  20. I’ve fallen a bit behind on the read along due to being busy lately, so I’m spending today catching up and I’m really enjoying it so far!

    I think my favorite thing is probably the magic system. Ikonomancy is super fascinating and I love how it’s language based, with how words can create meaning an everything. I’ve been craving this kind of magic system for a while, so I was very pleasantly surprised by this book, since I wasn’t expecting it going in.

  21. Up until now the story can’t really catch me. The world is interesting, but Dalca feels flat to me and the chemistry between him and Vesper is not that great. If he is the love interest, then I hope that this improves.

  22. Cas is like the absolute worst but the way he treats Vesper as his apprentice with all the ridiculous tasks and no explanation do crack me up.

  23. I find Casvian’s relationship with his father very intriguing. Also, I feel like there’s more driving Iz to help Vesper than we realize. It’ll be interesting to see what Vesper finds in the garden. So far, I’m not blown away by the “romance” between Vesper and Dalca

  24. This section felt slower than the first section, but it also moved forward some important aspects and have us a peek in character development to come. There’s definitely more to the prince to learn.

  25. So much sleuthing! I’m glad Vesper is trying to get to the bottom of things but I also want her to exercise more caution 😅 especially since Dalca is more observant than we thought! I like where their relationship is going but am worried how he’ll react if he finds out her true motivations.

    Also, shoutout to Sunya for creating such clever solutions for Vesper to finish her tasks. I love her writing style so far and the way she explains things!

  26. Oh my goodness. Cas is the one that grows on me the most in this section! I started out thinking he may have burned down Amma’s home, but it wasn’t him…and then his conversation with his dad at the end of this section just deepens the character that we thought he was. I love his character development, as there is certainly more than meets the eye, and he seems to have such a devotion to Dalca.

    Dalca seems to the be the struggling heir, caught between doing what he feels may be the right thing and what he has always been taught. I feel like it’s somewhat of a typical royal character who is good at heart that becomes a love interest. I’m hoping there’s more. I see the romance growing between them but it feels almost expected, and I don’t know if I care too much about it. Not that he’s not likeable, I do feel there’s more to him too, but he suddenly seems to like Vesper and act as if she is one of the few he opens up to readily, warily, yet their relationship didn’t grow. He just suddenly seems drawn to her.

    I wonder in the back of my mind if there will be some sort of love triangle or more coming as the book progresses. Dalca is obvious. But with the way Cas is developing, I wouldn’t put it past Cas finding a way into Vesper’s heart. He’s already growing in my heart, ahhaha! Maybe Iz. But I hope that Iz grows to be someone who she forms a deep, platonic relationship with. Sometimes, books make every possible connection a romantic relationship, but I feel the platonic ones are really important too, and a deep friendship can drive a narrative really well too.

    I don’t know how I actually feel about Vesper, even though it’s all from her point of view. She has a clear objective, and I apprecaite that she’s not distracted by the side romances. But if it’s from her point of view, she should be able to see there’s more to Cas, more to Dalca. But it’s like she puts that aside – which we often do in real life – to see what she wants to see. She’s brave, sometimes a little recklessly so, but I’ll allow that. I’m waiting for her character to develop and grow too. She’s not there yet. I’d like her own character to develop enough too, so that she can match the development that we see happening in others throughout the story.

    I love the aesthetics of the book by the way! When starting this section, I realized the artwork inside the front cover features Vesper, Dalca, Cas and Iz! And the lovely foiled hardcover gives us an idea of how intricate an ikon can be – not just a circle with triangles inside or something, but that it’s detailed, precise and complicated. Such details on this book (besides the lovely dusk jacket, author signature and gorgeous stenciled edges!) really make this edition SO special and I appreciate all the thought that went into creating the special aspects of our Fairy Loot book!

  27. I don’t know what to think of Izama, if he’s good o bad. A part of me thinks there’s going to be a love triangle between Izama, Dalca and Vesper 🤔. I’m super intrigued on Dalca and Cas backstory, it is seen that they are not really bad as was thought at the very beginning of the book.

  28. I am living for the banter between Cas and Iz. I love a good hate/love friendship. It’s like we care but we also can’t stand each other. I feel like Dalca is the glue in this situation, bringing the two together.

  29. I read the first set of chapters and this set in one sitting. I’m really enjoying it! I always love a bit of banter between characters, it makes it that much more enjoyable. Also this is the reason I have trust issues … do I like Izama or not? 🤔

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