Review of romantic fantasy In Daylight and Darkness by Dana Ardis
Lots of kids have imaginary friends, but Kate had an entire imaginary world to visit when she was a girl. When she keeps insisting that her friends are real, she ends up in an institution, where she is forced to put that part of her life behind her. Shortly after Kate turns eighteen and leaves Bayshore Psychiatric to start a normal life, her old friend Cor returns, transformed from the boy she loved into a handsome but guarded stranger. His world is darker than the fun and games she remembers from childhood and he warns her that the monsters there can hunt her now that she lives on her own. If she’ll come back to his world long enough to learn the magic she needs to defend herself, he’ll agree to stay out of her life. He’s only imaginary, but it gets harder and harder for Kate to think of saying goodbye.
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The sun set without any trouble. For the second night in a row, I didn’t see anything I wasn’t supposed to. I pushed the cold cup of coffee away, relieved.
Then Cor walked through the door of the diner.
After everything I’d gone through, part of me still wanted to rationalize why no one stared as he walked to my table despite his tangerine hair and his long, black coat. Maybe he stood out less in my sketchy neighborhood. Maybe people assumed his impossibly bright hair came out of a bottle.
No. No one else could see Cor because he didn’t exist. I couldn’t make excuses for him anymore. By now, I knew better than to think imaginary friends were harmless.
I didn’t want to see him, but I couldn’t quite ignore him, either. He stopped just outside the range of comfortable conversation, his golden eyes not quite meeting mine.
If I’d meant to ignore him, I should have stayed in my apartment, taken my sleeping pill like usual, and been out like a light before the sun had slipped beneath the horizon.
“Cor,” I said, his name familiar on my tongue, though I’d sworn I’d never say it again. His narrow shoulders relaxed just a bit at the fact I didn’t say his full name, as a stranger might have.
“Kate.” He spoke so softly, the name almost sank beneath the level of diner chatter. Or the sound of the blood pounding in my ears. He slid in to the opposite side of the booth.
He’d never been shy like this as a child.
The last time I’d seen him, five years ago, he’d been hardly more than a kid, spindly with sudden growth, stricken by my disbelief. It unsettled me to see him recast as this nervous stranger. His face was long and lean, his features angular and stark, handsome but subtly inhuman. His alien eyes, yellow-hazel with a vertical pupil like a cat’s, had changed the most. I didn’t recognize the hardness in them at all.
I was not prepared to have him sitting here, real as real, toying with the salt shaker.
This book grabbed my attention in a lot of ways. There is a lot of room on the shelves for adults dealing with the aftermath of visiting a fantasy world, and this one explored the mental illness, “no one believes you” angle in an interesting and respectful way. The characters felt real. The worlds came alive, and the ending left me curious. I do hope there is a sequel.
Fantasy has gotten into some trouble for implications that mental illness somehow connects one with magic. This really flipped that on its head—rather showing that adults won’t believe children and will force them into treatments, even if they don’t need those treatments. It’s a bit heartbreaking, and also informative about how society works. Any deviation from “normal” thinking results in action being taken so that “normal” thinking can be achieved, when the focus should be on cultivating each person’s individual strengths. Perhaps a kid visiting a fantasy world and not being believed isn’t quite the same thing, but this book, through that framework, offers a strong argument for acknowledging both differences in how people think, as well as the effects of mental illness.
Lastly, I’d be remiss in not saying how fascinating the fantasy world was. I love when fantasies feel bigger than what I see on the page, and this definitely felt like there was more to experience. I’ll repeat my desire for a sequel and leave off with the recommendation that fantasy fans give this a read.
About Dana Ardis
Dana Ardis grew up surrounded by books and decided she likes it that way, pursuing a career in public libraries. Now she writes her own books, creating the rich worlds and vibrant characters that tugged at her imagination as a child.
In addition to writing, she loves art, board games, travel, and anything to do with dogs.
Dana Ardis will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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