|Title: Dark Passage
Author: M. J. Putney
Series: Dark Mirror #2
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Paranormal YA
Reviewed by: Julia
Okay – A few good points, but with significant flaws. Library/swap/borrow if you want.
The Irregulars return home to 1803 England safely, but their worldview has changed. Not only have their heroic efforts at Dunkirk given them pride and confidence but their dangerous mission has increased their magical powers.
Tory delights in the ever deepening bond she shares with Allarde until she discovers how powerfully he is connected to his ancient family estate—the lands he will not inherit unless he denies his magical powers and chooses a nonmagical mate. If Tory really loves him, she must walk away—but does she have the strength to leave the love of her life?
Cynthia’s heroic efforts at Dunkirk have won her the respect of the Irregulars, but her sharp tongue keeps everyone at a distance. Isolated and very alone at Lackland Abbey over the Christmas holidays, she reluctantly agrees to join Jack Rainford and his family for their celebration even though they’re commoners, far below her own noble rank. The warm welcome of the Rainfords makes her feel happier and more accepted than she has ever been. But she can’t possibly be falling in love with flirtatious Jack! Can she?
Then the Irregulars are drawn into a dangerous attempt to rescue a vitally important French scientist from Nazi-occupied France. Tory and Allarde must work together because countless lives are at stake. Disaster strikes and not only is their mission threatened, but their very lives. Can magic and their loyalty to each other help them survive to return home?
Stilted dialogue, stiff delivery of background information, and a juvenile melding of history with World War II made this book a lackluster read for me. To a young YA reader, I think the adventure, mythology, and age appropriate romantic elements would be much more enjoyable, but I don’t think DARK PASSAGE has much potential as an adult crossover.
I had not read DARK MIRROR, the prequel to this book, and for a new reader the background information provided was useful (if stiffly delivered). Tory and her friends share so much information out loud to each other, dialogue issues are compounded ten times over. Of course, my advanced copy of DARK PASSAGE did not contain the final text, so the final edit may improve sections that bothered me. Any changes that tighten up the dialogue in the published book would improve the overall appeal this story quite a bit.
Dialogue issues aside, the adventure elements of DARK PASSAGE are interesting, if lightly handled. Putney touches upon 1800’s class attitudes, and some of the difficulties of World War II, but in a glancing way that does not make these story elements too dark for young readers. As an adult, there were parts of the book that seemed a little naive (such as assuming that Tory and her friends are aware of class prejudices in their time, but not religious ones). For a young reader, however, I think Putney has done a good job of bringing in real-world elements without getting bogged down in too much darkness. The romantic story lines were the strongest part of the book for me, deftly written in a way that is appropriate for young readers but fleshed out enough for my adult interest. Tory and Cynthia both handle some tough issues and make well-thought-out decisions. It is rare for a YA to provide such a nuanced look at romantic decisions, and I was impressed by this aspect of the story.
On the whole, I would not recommend DARK PASSAGE as a crossover YA for adults (or for precocious teens used to darker, urban YA) but there is the foundation of a good adventure and sweet romance in this Paranormal YA. Most importantly, there is no darkness or behavior portrayed that would have me hesitating to hand this to any young reader, which means there’s no reason not to read an excerpt, give it as a gift, or pick up a copy to try for yourself.