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Review: Kiki Strike The Darkness Dwellers

Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers by Kirsten Miller. Bloomsbury USA. 2013. Review copy from publisher. Sequel to Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City and Kiki Strike: The Empress’s Tomb.

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.


About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. I’ve been meaning to read Kiki Strike for AGES. Now that the third one is out, I REALLY need to bump it up on the priorities list. Especially since it’s one of your Favorite Books.

  2. I can’t wait to read this new addition to the Kiki story. As you know I love the historical connection.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. I love how sweeping in scope this latest volume was! Parisian catacombs! Secret underground societies! Allegedly evil etiquette experts. And, of course, female baldness as a critical plot point… These books always entertain, but have real depth, heart, and hilarity, as well.

  4. Envious!! I can’t wait to read this one. So glad you liked it.

  5. I’ve been so excited about this 3rd book since you first mentioned it, Liz. I’m thrilled to read it maintains all the awesomeness of the first two books. My library does have it on order, so I quickly added my name to the hold list. I’m a little bummed about the potential love triangle story (I’m sooo over that trope) but, based on your comments, will withhold judgement. I love these girls. I hope that even though some go off to Europe there are scenes with all of them interacting. Go Irregulars!

    Melissa – You really should read these books. They’re great – and lots of fun.

  6. Liz! I cannot WAIT to read this. As you know, the series is a favourite. I only wish I had read it before I went to Paris last weekend!

  7. I really agree on the Kaspar thing – adored how that worked out.

    This felt like an end to the series, but I’m really, really hoping it’s not because all three books have been standouts.