The Plot: Kiki is back, along with Ananka (the narrator) and the other Irregulars: Luz, Oona, Betty and DeeDee. Inside the Shadow City told how the gang got together, and introduced the “Shadow City,” the tunnels and basements underneath New York City.
In The Empress’s Tomb, the Irregulars battled a criminal mastermind who also happened to be Oona’s father.
The Darkness Dwellers breaks the girls up — no, not that way. By geography. Kiki pursues justice for her murdered family by returning to Europe, and when she goes missing, disguise artist Betty follows her to France. Along the way, the Irregulars come across another mystery, involving spies, World War II, the Paris catacombs, proper etiquette, lost loves, crushes, and hair tonic.
The Good: The Darkness Dwellers begins with a quick recap that includes a listing of all the prominent characters, making it easy to catch up and remember who everyone is.
The girls are fifteen; and, as before, future-Ananka is telling the story. When the story splits up between three narrators (Ananka, Kiki and Betty), Ananka is clear that she is still telling the story, just with input from Kiki and Betty.
Quick points: all that was lovely and wonderful about the other two Kiki Strike books are found here. Girl power, smart girls, plots grounded in real history, fast action, amusing lines, mini lessons from Ananka, and terrific friendships.
The Darkness Dwellers shakes things up by moving some of the girls from New York to Paris. I adored the new history! I’m not sure whether or not this is the final Kiki Strike book, because Kiki’s own story as the lost heir of Pokrovia, fighting to expose her murderess aunt, is resolved. However, Ananka and Kiki have always been the two main characters; the second book focused on Oona and this focuses on Betty. That leaves possible books featuring Luz and DeeDee. In addition, the underground worlds of many cities can still be explored, such as Rome or Edinburgh.
I mentioned how boys didn’t figure that much into the first two books; with the girls getting older, well, it matters more here. But even then, wow, it’s from a girl-power perspective. Ananka has a crush on Betty’s boyfriend, Kaspar, and I love how The Darkness Dwellers addresses this. It’s the perfect mix of feelings and choice, with a whole lot of sisterhood trust.
Last words: The Darkness Dwellers was well worth the wait. This is a Favorite Book of 2013.