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Knights of the Borrowed Dark

Cover of Knights of the Borrowed Dark

Knights of the Borrowed Dark

This imaginative new fantasy will charm fans of the Ranger's Apprentice and Rick Riordan.

Denizen Hardwick is an orphan, and his life is, well, normal. Sure, in storybooks orphans are rescued from drudgery when they discover they are a wizard or a warrior or a prophesized king. But this is real life—orphans are just kids without parents. At least that's what Denizen thought. . . .
On a particularly dark night, the gates of Crosscaper Orphanage open to a car that almost growls with power. The car and the man in it retrieve Denizen with the promise of introducing him to a long-lost aunt. But on the ride into the city, they are attacked. Denizen soon learns that monsters can grow out of the shadows. And there is an ancient order of knights who keep them at bay. Denizen has a unique connection to these knights, but everything they tell him feels like a half-truth. If Denizen joins the order, is he fulfilling his destiny, or turning his back on everything his family did to keep him alive?
This imaginative new fantasy will charm fans of the Ranger's Apprentice and Rick Riordan.

Denizen Hardwick is an orphan, and his life is, well, normal. Sure, in storybooks orphans are rescued from drudgery when they discover they are a wizard or a warrior or a prophesized king. But this is real life—orphans are just kids without parents. At least that's what Denizen thought. . . .
On a particularly dark night, the gates of Crosscaper Orphanage open to a car that almost growls with power. The car and the man in it retrieve Denizen with the promise of introducing him to a long-lost aunt. But on the ride into the city, they are attacked. Denizen soon learns that monsters can grow out of the shadows. And there is an ancient order of knights who keep them at bay. Denizen has a unique connection to these knights, but everything they tell him feels like a half-truth. If Denizen joins the order, is he fulfilling his destiny, or turning his back on everything his family did to keep him alive?
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  • From the cover

    1

    Absentee Aunts

    Four months later—October 2

    "I don't have an aunt."

    Denizen Hardwick stared down skeptically at the note in his hand. That was the way he looked at most things, and he had a face built for it—thin cheeks, a long nose, eyes the color and sharpness of a nail.

    The note, left on his bed in Dormitory E that morning, was the object of a special amount of skepticism, so much so that he was surprised it hadn't started to char at the edges.

    Your aunt has been in contact. She is taking you away for a few days. You will be collected at 6 p.m. Pack a bag.

    Director Ackerby

    "I don't have an aunt," Denizen said again. It didn't sound any less stupid the second time round.

    "Well, that's not exactly true," said his best friend, Simon Hayes, also staring at the note. "You just don't have any aunts you're aware of."

    Dormitory E was a long room with a high ceiling built for spiderwebs. Massive windows invited the weak October sunlight in to die, their frames rattling occasionally with the wind.

    There were twelve beds, and at this particular lunchtime ten of them were empty. Most of Cross-caper's orphans were outside because sunlight in October was a rare gift and they hadn't been given a mysterious note to stare at.

    Denizen ran a hand through his shaggy red hair. He was small for his age, and barring a late growth spurt, he would be small for every other age as well. The freckles that swarmed his cheeks and nose in summer had now faded in winter to lost and lonely things, all but the one on his lip.

    He hadn't been aware you could have a freckle on your lip. Maybe Denizen was the only person a lip freckle had ever happened to. Maybe it was a mark of destiny, singling him out for great things . . . ​but he doubted it. Denizen Hardwick wasn't the kind of person to believe in special circumstances—in distinguishing freckles or meaningful birthmarks or fortuitous aunts.

    Denizen Hardwick was a skeptic.

    "I don't have a— Look, if I do have an aunt, where has she been for the last eleven years?"

    "Can you get any clues from the paper?" Simon asked. The new library had a collection of detective novels, and Simon was very interested in what one could learn from the smallest details.

    Gamely, Denizen inspected the note. Unfortunately, all he could see was that it was on yellow paper, which meant it had come straight from the director's desk and was therefore not to be argued with, in the same way you didn't argue with gravity. Apart from that, it was inconsiderately devoid of clues.

    "No," he said. "Sorry."

    Simon's and Denizen's beds were beside each other and had been since they were both three years old in Dormitory A downstairs. That had started their friendship. Furtive book trades at night, an inquisitive nature in common, and a shared dislike of sports had continued it.

    There were a lot of things Denizen liked about Simon, but first and foremost was how he radiated calm the way the sun radiated heat. It was impossible to be annoyed at Simon. It was impossible to be annoyed around Simon. A conversation with Simon had the soothing effect of the cool side of the pillow.

    Through either blind luck or best-friend osmosis, Simon had snagged all the height Denizen lacked. His giant winter coat did little to bulk out his slender frame, and splayed as he was across his bed, he looked like a crow in...

About the Author-
  • Dave Rudden completed his Creative Writing Masters at University College Dublin, earning a first-class honors degree. His short stories and poetry have been published in such journals as Bare Hands, Wordlegs, and the Quotable. He has been shortlisted for the Bath Short Story Prize and longlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize, and won the Fantasy Book Review Short Story Prize. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 6, 2016
    An Irish orphan discovers his long-lost family, hidden powers, and secret destiny in this trilogy opener, which pokes gentle fun at (and embraces) tropes common to books of its kind. Upon turning 13, Denizen Hardwick is liberated from a dismal orphanage and brought to live with his formidable aunt Vivian, the leader of a small cadre of warriors who protect the world against otherworldly monsters. Discovering that he, too, can channel the power of the Tenebrae to perform magical feats (though at a physical cost, with the user’s body slowly turning to iron), Denizen strives to join the Knights of the Borrowed Dark, in part to learn more about his family history. This coincides with a major crisis, putting Denizen through a terrifying trial by fire. Even referencing the ubiquity of the story’s elements (“every time someone came to visit,” Denizen’s fellow well-read orphans “began packing their bags, ready for their new life as wizard, warrior, or prophesied king”) doesn’t stop it from being predictable. Where Rudden succeeds, in this solid debut, is with his engaging characters, fast-paced plot, and clever language. Ages 10–up. Agent: Clare Wallace, Darley Anderson.

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Knights of the Borrowed Dark
Knights of the Borrowed Dark
Dave Rudden
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