Cathedral Caverns

Cathedral Caverns
the locale of the book and a magickal place


Enter the fantasy world of Dividing Dark

Monday, October 11, 2010

What I Like About Book Reviews

When people read a book, each person connects to the part that speaks to them, and that really touches me. Being introverted, I find it profoundly moving when a stranger can take something away from my a way of indirectly touching a life in a good way.

For instance,Dawn of NOR had been in a cave so she related to the difficulty and to Fee's caution and fears (which are also my fears), and she understood about the darkness and also kind of the deeper spiritual aspects in this book, which I was happy to see.

Another review that stood out to me was Heather's, from Beside the Norm, which I hope you will check out below and at the link provided. Being a diabetic, she can relate to Fee's health problems, which are my health issues (not the anorexic part...just the sometimes going blind and numb part, which can happen to diabetics too if they aren't careful. My issue is undiagnosed...migraines, MS, TIAs? doctors shrug, "Yes, its MS." "Its not MS, its TIAs." "It can't be TIAs." "It might be TIAs." Oh, well.).

I was afraid to give Fee a disability, but I am so tired of reading books about the main players in the book being so beautiful, too perfect, no flaws, no weaknss. I want my readers to know that we all struggle in some way whether physical or spiritual, but its what makes us who we are and its okay.


After her father dies, Fee finds herself relocated to a nowhere Alabama town, riddled with fears and an eating disorder that make it difficult for her to feel at ease, much less at home. When Fee agrees to go spelunking with some classmates to help her fit in, she soon realizes that she is in way over her head, since caving encompasses many of her fears. To help get over those fears, Fee decides to go on a cave tour, where she meets Faron, the tour guide who doubles as a half-Reptilian emissary for humans and Reptilians. In spite of this, Fee does not fear him or his kind, and that bravery will be put to the test the more her relationship with Faron grows….

Dividing Dark by Melissa Swaim is a fast-paced YA fantasy that manages to be both unique and similar to common tropes in the genre. Fee is the new girl in town, and human at that, while the boy she falls for has a secret supernatural side from which he tries to protect her. However, the age gap between her and Faron is only by a couple years, and seeing how that’s often a couple hundred years in fantasy, I found this welcomingly refreshing. Also, Faron doesn’t simply try to protect her from the things she fears--he tries to help her overcome them, allowing her an independence and equality I quite enjoyed seeing develop. Although Fee and Faron’s relationship definitely has its angsty moments, it is sweet as a whole, and I couldn’t help but root for them the more the book progressed.

There were other elements I loved about this book as well. One notable element is Fee’s eating disorder. Not only is it an important part of her character, but something that her mother doesn’t simply ignore--nor does Faron, once he catches whiff of it. I also like how Fee having this disorder didn’t suddenly morph Dividing Dark into an “issue” book. While it is an issue, it is not the only thing that defines Fee or this story, and as a diabetic who gets easily annoyed by certain portrayals of the diseased/disabled, I was ecstatic to see such a character not be reduced to that kind of storytelling.

The mythology of Dividing Dark was another element I enjoyed. Melissa Swaim touches on many types of lore, be it vampires or aliens, and combines them into her own distinct creation. This use of mythology not only makes her book stand out amongst many in the genre, but gives the fantastical aspects a more realistic feel, since much of it is given an underlying heritage in the world of Dividing Dark.

Visit this awesome site for the rest of the review and to read my interview...the only one I will do as I am social phobic.

Top Pick at Night Owl

Score: 4.50 / 5 - Reviewer Top Pick at Night Owl Reviews


Ever since her father was killed in Afghanistan, life has been pretty sucky for 16-year-old Flannery Birch, or "Fee," as everyone calls her. Her mother moved them into her grandmother's house in a whole 'nother state, she struggles to be accepted by the kids at her new school and, what's worse, she refuses to eat. She uses her grief as an excuse to disappear pound by pound. Then she meets Faron and everything changes. Something about him is familiar but she can't remember what it is. After she overhears a suspicious conversation Faron gets into with strange men, red flags go up. Just what is it about Faron that is so different yet so familiar? Why does he act the way he does around the caves? He may claim to be on the cave rescue team, but Fee knows it's something more - and when she finds out, the story takes a huge turn towards danger and suspense.

The novel, Dividing Dark , by Melissa Swaim is for the teen market yet this reviewer, well into her 30s, found this book to be such an engaging and adventurous story. Reading this story proved to be an introduction to caving, something I know nothing about. It was interesting reading not only about geological features of caves but also the equipment required. When Faron warned that a trail would require a lot of concentration, I could only nod my head with certainty, as I have only been through one cave and those trails in and around a cave can be hard to navigate if you're not careful. I had to laugh when Fee asked her adventurous friends, "Wouldn't you rather collect stamps or something?" I admired her bravery to put herself through these experiences just to get over her fears, but at some point she starts to crack and her frustrations are obvious. The fear of the dangerous activities involved in caving just grow larger and larger for her - yet she presses on. As much as she tries to do what her friends do to fit in, she pulls the stops at skydiving: "Fee was so not doing that."

Fee has a rebellious side to her. She takes her cell phone to school even though they're prohibited and she agrees to trespass on private property. Caves and tunnels not open to the public are off limits, but because she wants to be accepted by her friends so badly and wants to know what's in the forbidden tunnels, she goes along with their plans to explore them.

She is attracted to the darkness, probably why she feels such a strong attraction to Faron. "I like the darkness," he tells her. Thus his obsession with caves. His room even has a black light, not regular light. Fee herself feels drawn to the dark: "Darkness called to her, ready to reveal itself." In some way, it seems as though this is the sort of life meant for her. Even as Faron keeps locking her out and insisting she'll hate the part of himself that he keeps secret, she in turn keeps telling him "I am in this" as if she started on a path leading to some mysterious destination and she refuses to turn back no matter what she sees. It's the same thing with her determination to conquer her fears about caving: Once she starts on that part, there's no turning back. At the same time, this strange secret of Faron's is becoming a part of her life more and more, even if she does not yet realize it: "Entities sought her from the darkness as if the door could never fully close once open."

The thing I admired most about Fee is her courage. She stays true and devoted to the one she falls in love with. It's very inspiring and refreshing to see this coming from a young character. Teenagers usually break up over stupid reasons and run away from commitments if things get too scary or uncomfortable. So this kind of determination to stay with the one she chooses was a very pleasant reading experience.

Dividing Dark is a story where two worlds come clashing together, in darkness and light. The story is a fun, interesting read that transcends our wildest imaginations and shows just how balance can be restored amid chaos.