Never mind Darkhaven, what about …?

Posted at Jul 8, 2015 6:00 am

Today I’m hosting author A.F.E. Smith for her blog tour to celebrate the release of DARKHAVEN! Read on for a post from A.F.E. and a giveaway…








She glanced back at Darkhaven, looming against the moon. A shiver ran across her skin, as though she had been brushed from head to toe by a cold, invisible hand. It was the sensation she felt when her father Changed, an awareness of the family gift that all the Nightshade line possessed – the reason she couldn’t Change now herself if she wanted to avoid discovery. Fearful, she gazed at the sky above the tower, half expecting her father to come bursting out in his Firedrake form and roar after her; yet all remained dark and quiet, only the stars awake.”


A blog tour can feel rather self-indulgent, what with all the talking about myself and my book. So as part of the tour, I’m presenting a series of posts that recommend other books you might enjoy. Each post picks out some great fantasy novels that have a particular feature in common with Darkhaven.


And since I’m on Laura’s blog, the obvious choice for today is my Top Five books (or series) that have the word ‘dark’ in the title!

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Dark Alchemy – Laura Bickle

Let’s start with the reason why I picked this theme for today! Our host Laura Bickle’s latest novel is a fascinating blend of wild west and urban fantasy (although ‘urban’ is of course the wrong word). It’s a wonderfully creepy blend of alchemy, mystery and gunslinging, with a great female lead and an awesome coyote sidekick.


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The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper

This could refer to either the series as a whole or the second book within it, which share a title. We’ll go with the series, I think; while The Dark is Rising itself used to be my favourite of the five as a child, these days the gotta-catch-em-all nature of the plot pushes me more towards The Grey King. Still, overall this is an absolute classic of a children’s fantasy series; the dichotomy between good and evil is stark and unquestioned, of course (which is what you’d expect from a series where the two main groups are called the Light and the Dark), but the ‘good’ characters are wonderfully nuanced and the atmospheric British settings of Cornwall and Wales can’t be beaten.


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His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

Another series to continue the list. Whatever you think of Pullman’s theology, there’s no denying that these three books are fascinating and imaginative and extraordinary. For me the trilogy peaked with The Subtle Knife, but the whole thing is still brilliant. And the daemons … well, finding out what form my daemon takes would be up there with finding out which Hogwarts house I belong to. They’re just that awesome. (Incidentally, I’ve used the British cover for the first book here, because I still can’t get used to the title The Golden Compass. It’s NOT A COMPASS, dammit.)


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Dark Eden – Chris Beckett

OK, this one’s sci-fi rather than fantasy, I suppose, but it’s ‘soft’ enough that I think it counts. It’s a fascinating study of a small, constrained community on a far-off planet, all descended from a single pair of explorers who were left there when the rest of their team went for help (hence the Eden part). The way the community’s language, mythology and social structure has evolved from roots that would be familiar to us into something quite different makes this a really thought-provoking read.


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The Dark Tower – Stephen King

You can’t write a list of ‘dark’-themed fantasy novels without including Stephen King’s Dark Tower. This multi-genre, multi-volume series isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s an impressive work of imagination and one that’s already become a classic.


The Dark Forest – Cixin Liu

I’m adding this one in as an extra, because it isn’t released until August. But as the sequel to The Three-Body Problem, it should definitely be worth a read!


Did I miss any out? Which books would you suggest?


darkhaven cover








Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: 2 July 2015 (ebook), 14 January 2016 (paperback)
Price: £1.99/$3.99 (ebook)


Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.

When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

Buy links

Amazon (global link)
Barnes & Noble
Google play

Author biography

A.F.E. Smith is an editor of academic texts by day and a fantasy writer by night. So far, she hasn’t mixed up the two. She lives with her husband and their two young children in a house that someone built to be as creaky as possible – getting to bed without waking the baby is like crossing a nightingale floor. Though she doesn’t have much spare time, she makes space for reading, mainly by not getting enough sleep (she’s powered by chocolate). Her physical bookshelves were stacked two deep long ago, so now she’s busy filling up her e-reader.

What A.F.E. stands for is a closely guarded secret, but you might get it out of her if you offer her enough snacks.

AFE Author Photo











Author social media links

DARKHAVEN on Goodreads


AFE’s blog tour is here:


And she’s doing a giveaway! Deets here: 







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