The Darkening Readalong: Day 4!

Beautiful photo by @bookish.bones!

Hey fairies!

Welcome back to day 4 of our readalong of The Darkening by Sunya Mara! I have no doubts that today’s section will bring a lot of drama. Buckle up and let’s get stuck in!

Today we’re reading from Chapter 19 to the end of Chapter 24.

Please be warned, the following section will include spoilers for The Darkening by Sunya Mara, from chapters 19 to 24. Please only read on if you’ve finished this section!


Sooooo… I’ve been really scared for the outcome of this book and section 4 always tends to pack a punch drama wise… but we’ve started out The Darkening section 4 with the RETURN OF IZ!!! CAN I GET A HELL YEAH?

Cas wants to know why Dalca called off the Trial, as promised, Vesper shows him her Pa’s notebook and tells him that’s why. Vesper is afraid, which isn’t surprising, her father really instilled in her that this was not an outcome he wanted. Iz tries to remind Vesper that Dalca is only afraid of what will happen to himself. He brings up his sister again, it turns out Nashi had a crush on an ikonomancer… but Dalca had a crush on her and not long after turning him down, she died.

Cas and Dalca entail Vesper to help decode her father’s notes. When Cas leaves, Vesper seizes her chance and asks Dalca if he could pardon her father. He tells her he really doesn’t have the power for that but if the people learnt that her father saved them, maybe the Regia could be convinced.

Vale’s notes suggest the mark can only be found in the Storm. It was this that led to Vesper’s mother going into the Storm. She tells Dalca and he says that’s what they will do.

Over the following days, the Storm seems to rage. Casvian tells Dalca his plan is reckless, no one has ever been recorded coming out of the Storm, and even if by some miracle he gets out, he’ll still be stormtouched, cursed.

Vesper has the chance to visit her Pa, and learns that he never went into the Storm with her mother. He gives Vesper the same warning he gave her mother, warns her she will never return. He attempts to beg Dalca not to take Vesper into the Storm with him, he says he’d never even ask it of her but we know there’s no way Vesper will let him do it alone. No one went with her Ma, no one could watch out for her or have her back, she doesn’t want Dalca to face the same. I have a lot of respect for Vesper cause honestly I’d be likeeee “you go, I’m gonna chill here, have a bubble bath, read some books, you have fun though”

Dalca doesn’t understand why Vesper is so adamant that she’s going into the Storm with him, so she tries to make him see. They visit the fifth ring, they dance, they sing, they almost kiss. Vesper isn’t doing it solely so Dalca isn’t alone, she’s doing this for her city and the people within.

When they return to the Ven, Dalca declares he has something for Vesper, and hands her a red leather Wardana uniform. He’s giving it to her to protect her as much as he can.

Turns out Dalca wouldn’t have been going alone anyway, Cas and Iz are going too.

Today is the day, into the Storm we go. I feel claustrophobic just at the description of the Storm, it sounds… vile. 1/10 turn back now.

They all start to see things, and then the Storm has taken something from each of them. The deeper they go, the more they have to give up. Ok, if you follow these readalongs often, you’ll know I’m a hopeless romantic and I try to see relationships and romance blooming between, well, pretty much everyone… so it might just be me, but when Cas hands shake as he makes a fire, and then BLUSHES when Izamal puts a hand on his shoulder and helps him with it… I am sensing something blooming! Anyway, romance aside, Dalca is seeing a little boy, and he thinks it’s himself, back when his mother first became Regia. 

They start to unintentionally separate from each other, and suddenly the Storm is talking to Vesper. It tells her the only way out is to go further into the Storm, until they reach the darkest part, of the Storm and their soul.

She finds Amma’s sitar. She doesn’t want it, but the Storm tells her to take it. She sees all of the people she let down. Amma, Jem and the rest. But she carries on.

The forgotten Queen comes to her, and says she can give her power, asks her if she will bear the greatest of all her curses, and Vesper says yes. She can feel something inside her, but it doesn’t feel like power.

Vesper finds Cas, and sees him fight his demons. Iz has been turned into a beast, and they still haven’t found Dalca. Cas and Vesper definitely seem to making progress, with Cas trusting Vesper to save Dacla and Vesper trusting Cas to save Izamal. This is all sooooo trippy, miniature cities, Dalca in a death mask, I can’t cope.

Dalca speaks with the serpent… but it feels like he’s being tricked?

So much is happening at once! Now Iz is back, still in beast form… and he’s mad. Dalca is shocked to hear that Iz believes he killed his sister, and explains she essentially sacrificed herself to save him. As they fight, Vesper has no option but to draw an ikon, and then the ground shakes beneath them, splitting apart. Cas is by her side and they hug as he trembles and murmurs that he couldn’t stop Iz. Vesper tries to interrupt Dalca and Iz as they fight, begging Dalca to have mercy on him. She thinks that the Dalca she knew wouldn’t be this cruel, but behind them stands Izamal, Vesper sees immense emotion in his eyes before a wave crashes over him and drags him beneath. Vesper dives in after him, but the serpent beats her there, dragging Iz’s body with her. 

Vesper wakes and staggers out of the Storm into the fifth ring. Dalca is there to meet her. Dalca urges her to look out beyond the Storm, and as she does, she sees the sun rising.

Well… that was dramatic!

I will catch up with you all tomorrow for our final section!



20 thoughts on “The Darkening Readalong: Day 4!

  1. Cas’ trauma in the storm has me crying! I really hope they continue to explore his story!

    I feel like the beast/iz could be foreshadowing something… what do we think?

  2. This section was super fast paced! I was not expecting everything that did happen to happen all in one go 😱
    To be honest the storm itself was a little bit of a let down, but I suppose it makes sense to be more of a psychological challenge than a physical one.
    I’m a little worried about how Dalca is going to be changed after giving up what he did not realising the consequences of his actions, but also interested to see what the Lost Queen’s power does with Vesper. I also wonder if there’s some chance at redemption for Vesper’s mother, or did she give up too much of herself to be saved? 🤔

  3. Oooh that section was so dramatic!!! We learnt some more about the world and the characters in this section and I cannot wait to find out how the book ends.

  4. Well, that was a lot. I don’t know if I can wait until tomorrow to see how it picks up from here.

    Super worried about Iz. I was kinda hoping there’d be something between him and Cas. But I may just have read too much into it, since I’m queer myself, but I feel like I saw something there for a few moments throughout the book. Oh well, if he’s not dead I suppose there’s still time 😂🥲

  5. This was a lot. I’m very interested In knowing what will happen in the last part. Cas is also really growing on me. And I want to know if they got any curses and if so, what they are. Will they be okay? Will they eventually be able to save iz. Will they be able to save the city with everyone in one piece and with their mind intact? I don’t think we will get all the answers in this book, but I hope we get enough that the wait won’t be to bad. I’m sorry, my thoughts is a little bit all over.

  6. The whole adventure inside the storm was fun. I predict that the curse vesper was given will be needed to help maintain the regia. I was sad to see iz go but I knew he was too good to be true. Hopefully he gets a redemption arc later in the series!

  7. Wow, a lot happened here! I definitely don’t think Iz is dead, and I’m a little surprised Vesper didn’t have more of a reaction upon coming face-to-face (kind of) with her mom. I wonder why the Queen decided to give Vesper the curse. Looking forward to getting answers tomorrow!

  8. Well that was a wild ride. I honestly loved this. It was about them not only facing their inner demons, but their generational traumas too.

    I’m still extremely worried about the deal that Dalca took. Did he choose right? I’m really confused by that.

    Also, oof. Vesper’s mom. That’s going to be hard for her to work through later on.

    I’ll be honest, I thought Cas was going to be harder to reconcile with. I really loved this part.

    How did the storm even get there?! I need to know.

  9. It took all of four days for me to comment on discord and then forget to come here ahaha.

    Wow so much in these chapters! I loved how surreal the descriptions were and I really wish there was art showing what it all looked like.

    I hope whatever Dalca gave up doesn’t end up causing him to turn into a villain…and I hope Iz can be rescued. I keep wondering if Vesper had found one of them first instead of Cas, she might have been in time to save one of them. Nothing against Cas, just seems like he wouldn’t have made it without her help either and I wonder how other scenarios might have played out if she’d found Dalca or Iz before they’d got quite so far gone.

  10. This romance feels very forced. Or maybe i’m still a bit bitter from the nonconsentual kiss earlier. I’m just not feeling it. It feels like the book is trying too hard to make aflac into a leading man when he was a fine character before.

    Also I’m annoyed with Vesper. She keeps insisting that her motivation is protecting and helping to save the city from the storm, but so far all her actions have just shown that she’s mainly focused on saving her father. Even when her Pa’s wishes are to be helping/saving the city is in

    So between chapter 20 and 21 I really lost all motivation to read. It just wasn’t doing anything for me. But then once i convinced myself to go on, chapters 21 to the end of the section (at time of writing 24) were amazing! The best written section of the book so far! I loved the confusion and stress of wandering through the Storm, how they lost their possessions and themselves and had to accept those essential parts of themselves to survive. I enjoyed watching them grappling with their weaknesses, fears and insecurities in their individual ways and how Cas and Vesper helped each other while trying to save Izamal and Dalca. It’s going to be interesting seeing what the repercussions of Dalca acquiescing to the storm are. And poor Izamal. He didn’t deserve that, but it’s certainly not going to be the last of him. I’m thinking he’ll show up at the end and become the main villain of the second book, and avatar of the Storm.

  11. Omg poor Iz 😭 you can tell he doesn’t want to be fully consumed by this fury but it’s gonna be so hard for him to fight it. I loved seeing how Cas tackled his demons, and Vesper hers. But Dalca… didn’t Vesper warn him about wording? Why did the serpent say save his mom instead of the city? Like my guy 🤦🏼‍♀️
    I’m really curious what everyone’s curses will be as they emerge from the storm… will they be more internal or external? How will everyone react to them coming back from the storm?

    Also, another shoutout to Sunya for a beautifully written section. Her imagination is top tier and I love How she crafted these scenarios

  12. I had a headache yesterday so didn’t manage to finish this section, but I’m all caught up today! And oh boy, that was stressful. We spent the whole book avoiding down the storm, now everyone’s walking into it together?!

    I’m really not vibing with the romance between Vesper and Dalca. It still feels like it came out of nowhere. I don’t sense any actual desire between them. It feels like they’re both doing it because they think they should. Cas and Iz however? I’m definitely getting those romantic feelings.

    I really don’t trust the deal Dalca made. I’ve got a bad feeling about this. But I’m excited to finish the book next!

  13. I struggled through the storm section of today’s pages. It’s like the book just dropped some LSD, threw up a confusing bunch of metaphors and then shucked off it’s plot like an abandoned snake skin.

    So the storm is the forgotten, pregnant wife of the Great King? Or is Vesper’s mother now the storm? Is the serpent the storm? The forgotten wife? Vesper’s mother?

    On a positive note on page 300 we finally sort of found out how the Wardana fly.

  14. I’m sorry but I am completely lost. I’ve been trying to keep up, but I’m so close to DNFing

  15. THEY WENT INTO THE STORM! Yes! I was waiting for this, knew it had to happen of course, but EVEN BETTER that Cas and Iz went with them. I love friendship, and love their loyalty to Dalca. Friends like this is always so precious

    But oh. My heart breaks for all their struggles they face in the storm, for Cas and Iz and Dalca (I seriously love this trio of friendship, even if Iz feels a bit on the outside, Cas and Dalca don’t; they didn’t tell him everything but I think there were other reasons for that). And Iz! Iz! I’m sure they can’t leave him like that! I’d be too heartbroken!

    I’m still not fully shipping the whole Dalca and Vesper thing. I feel Vesper is sort of shifting now to “save her city”, but at the same time, I don’t feel she’s fully there now. Her character is still not my favorite. Now that I think about it, Cas and Iz ar probably my favorite characters in this book so far. I feel both their characters are the most developed and their own stories only get deeper and I absolutely love it! (and now there was that blush??? Hhehehhe!)

    I don’t fully understand Vesper’s curse, but I figure she doesn’t quite know yet herself, so i will reveal itself the coming section. I wonder how it will save all the people she wants to save, and at what price??? Even if the Forgotten Queen (ahhh! Cool plot reveal!) says she is giving it to her without “taking anything”, I’m sure there is still price. And Dalca’s curse? Something with the little boy he was, and I’m super wary about it. Will it really help the Regia? Maybe it will, but it’s all super shady because well, everthing comes with a cost. It all sounds dangerous, and I’m excited to finish the rest of this book!

    BTW, I love these readalongs – we can all be nerdy bookworms and put our thoughts here, and it forces me to read! I love reading, no force needed! But life gets so busy and I’m distracted by keeping my family fed/clothed/clean/active and doing things for others (LOL!) and make time for myself with something I love that is just for me. Thank you!!

  16. I really liked this part of the book, I felt like it made us closer to the characters by really delving into their fears. The imagery really came to life as I was reading their trek through the storm and loved the eerie vibes.

  17. Oh I REALLY enjoyed these chapters! I loved learning more about everyone. It helped me connect with the characters more (which in my option makes read much more enjoyable).

    Another thing I love is the growing friendship between everyone

    There were a few little plot twists and surprises in these chapters that I am absoluty living for … * cough cough the Forgotten Queen * cough cough

  18. These chapters were intense. I can’t stop thinking about poor Izamal. For part I thought something was going to happen between him and Cas. I thought that the storm was going to have more bad things but good. A part of me thought that Vesper was going to see his mother but as lost walking in the dark.

  19. It was interesting how the storm ends up being more of a psychological challenge rather than physical!

  20. This section was STRESSFUL.

    No no no, Iz can’t be gone. He needs to open his dream bakery!

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