Shadows of the Dark Crystal is the first of a series of books set in the Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance universe. It might be worth noting that while I’ve seen the original Dark Crystal movie probably a dozen times, I’ve not yet seen the new series.
The story centers around Naia, a young Sog Gelfling woman who isn’t quite old enough to be considered an adult, but certainly is ready to make her way into the world. She’s got a twin brother named Gurjin who works at the Crystal Castle…. until word arrives on the back of a Gelfling soldier that Gurjin has committed treason against the Skeksis who guard the crystal.
Naia rapidly learns that to defend her brother she must make her way across Thra, the land of the Crystal to the All-Maudra to stand trial in his stead. The journey takes a rapid turn for the worse when she, her father, and the soldier, discover that the creatures of Thra have turned dark and violent for reasons that seem to lead back to the crystal roots that permeate the world.
As in all good coming-of-age stories, things continue to go downhill from there.
If you were a kid when The Dark Crystal came out, there’s a few things to recognize about this book before reading. It’s classed as a Young Adult book (ages 12-17 on Amazon’s scale) but I’d definitely put it at the low end of that scale based on the simplicity of the reading level and the generally-slower pace of the book. This story simultaneously relies on building tension throughout while not scaring the pants off its intended audience, and so can feel a bit slow at the beginning and/or a bit rushed at the end.
It’s also written as the first book of a prequel set to a story we already know — a story that’s going very badly for the Gelflings at the beginning of the movie. In other words, if you’re looking for a series with a happy ending, or heck, even a pick-me-up, this book is probably not where you want to look. Once again, it’s important to remember this is a Young Adult book and speaking as someone who was once a Young Adult that read almost every Young Adult in the local Waldenbooks, angst and disaster is a craving at that age. So, yeah, might not be your thing (even if you are a YA) but typical of the genre.
Overall it’s a good enough book that I’m getting the sequels… and seriously considering watching the series, which is a big deal for someone who has trouble sitting still in front of a TV.