Summary and book reviews of In Darkness by Nick Lake

In Darkness

By Nick Lake

In Darkness
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2012,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2014,
    368 pages.

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Book Summary

"Shorty" is a Haitian boy trapped in the ruins of a hospital when the earth explodes around him. Surrounded by lifeless bodies and growing desperately weak from lack of food and water, death seems imminent. Yet as Shorty waits in darkness for a rescue that may never come, he becomes aware of another presence, one reaching out to him across two hundred years of history. It is the presence of slave and revolutionary leader Toussaint L'Ouverture, whose life was marred by violence, and whose own end came in darkness. What unites a child of the slums with the man who would shake a troubled country out of slavery? Is it the darkness they share... or is it hope?

Raw, harrowing, and peopled with vibrant characters, In Darkness is an extraordinary book about the cruelties of man and nature, and the valiant, ongoing struggle for a country's very survival.

Ages 14+

1
NOW

I am the voice in the dark, calling out for your help.

I am the quiet voice that you hope will not turn to silence, the voice you want to keep hearing cos it means someone is still alive. I am the voice calling for you to come and dig me out. I am the voice in the dark, asking you to unbury me, to bring me from the grave out into the light, like a zombi.

I am a killer and I have been killed, too, over and over; I am constantly being born. I have lost more things than I have found; I have destroyed more things than I have built. I have seen babies abandoned in the trash and I have seen the dead come back to life.

I first shot a man when I was twelve years old.

I have no name. There are no names in the darkness cos there is no one else, only me, and I already know who I am (I am the voice in the dark, calling out for your help), and I have no questions for myself and no need to call upon myself for anything, except to remember.

I am alone.

I am dying.

...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

In Darkness is a powerful, violent story. It is suitable for both teens and adults who can handle brutal, descriptive detail. It is absolutely worth reading and will leave the reader wanting to know more about Haiti's incredible history.   (Reviewed by Tamara Smith).

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Media Reviews
Author Blurb Patrick Ness, author of A Monster Calls
In Darkness is a serious, nuanced, challenging novel. Trust me, there are plenty of young readers who hunger for exactly that.

The Bookbag (UK)

Readers, old and young alike, will come away from In Darkness with a meaningful understanding of what it is to be Haitian. And what it is like to have the world fall down on you. Highly, highly, and thrice highly recommended. Don't miss it.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A dark journey well worth taking - engrossing, disturbing, illuminating.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The portrait it reveals of a country relegated throughout history to brutality and neglect is powerful and moving.

The Wall Street Journal

Remarkable... Lake's elegant, restrained prose and distinct characters will reward adults and older teenagers able to brave a story with strong language, harrowing scenes of brutality and an almost painful stab of joy at the end.

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Toussaint l'Ouverture

François-Dominique Toussaint l'Ouverture was born circa 1743 in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (which would later become Haiti) to an educated slave named Gaou-Guinou, who was probably a member of the African Arrada tribe. According to biographer D. Augustus Straker (1908), "So remarkable were [l'Ouverture's] traits of character that the superintendent on the plantation where Toussaint worked as a slave granted him, it is said, unusual privileges, among these the opportunity to learn to read and write, which he did, making also fair progress in arithmetic."

He was a dedicated Roman Catholic, which was the official religion of Haiti, and purportedly did not believe in vodou, a popular Creole religion. Clever, hard-working, and ...

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