Book Review: The Plague Diaries by Ronlyn Domingue
ashley | Ronlyn Domingue has taken me on a wondrous adventure with her Keeper of Tales Trilogy. Not only is the story interesting, but Domingue’s writing is expressive in such a unique way, each book taking on a different voice and unique point of view that you do not see often in a lot of books. It’s been a few years, but this epic trilogy concludes with The Plague Diaries, a conclusion I was anxious to read.
Things start kind of slow; Secret is determined to carve out her independence and find her own way by continuing her position as archivist for Fewmany, who seems to warm to Secret and bring her under his wing. This first part of the book felt a little bit like Jane Eyre to me, with the strange dynamic between employer/employee and how that sort of blossoms into a form of respect and then admiration. He wants something though, of course, and that’s the pivotal point that changes the course of the book. Secret is sent on a mission on his behalf and finds much more than she anticipated.
This journey was prophesied in the last book, The Chronicles of Secret Riven, and vaguely included Secret’s childhood friend, who also happens to be the prince, Nikolas. There’s something I love about seeing prophesies come together and how the cryptic knowledge that the characters start out with starts to all fall into place. This journey unleashes the titular plague and delves deep into the darkness that lives inside of us all.
I don’t want to give anything away, but I want to mention that this plague was such an interesting concept for me. I’ve read about some similar processes in the wellness world and the fact that this plague is actually something that can be seen as therapeutic and kind of a beautiful thing, while at the same time basically creating a living hell, is a bittersweet thing that I am pretty fascinated with. I didn’t fully grasp the depths of this while I read through, it wasn’t until a conversation after I finished the book that what this could all really mean finally settled in fully. That is what I love about books, how they stretch out long after you think you’re done.
I recall I wasn’t totally taken with Secret originally when I met her in the last book. She was a strong and fierce heroine, but I didn’t have the same feel from her as I did from Aoife in The Mapmaker’s War. Well, Secret really came into her own in this story and was a welcomed addition to this trilogy. She was put upon and put upon, she held a lot of darkness and carried a lot of secrets, she had a passionate love that she couldn’t fully embrace. There were so many layers and complications, she was a beautifully flawed and well rounded character that I quite enjoyed spending time with.
There are so many beautiful things in this story. So many themes that are very prudent to our day today, including gender equality and focusing on people who are different. Domingue wrote with a sensitivity and knowledge that made these passages very moving without turning them into a loud political statement.
What I love most about this whole trilogy is that Domingue has built a relatively normal world, with regular people, but she’s breathed some magic in between the cracks and really lets her characters come alive with it. Her writing is absolutely beautiful and the way she describes regular things like trees and plants and nature is so colourful that they become their own characters. That’s where the magic lives, in the writing, in the descriptions, beyond the magical abilities the characters possess.
As this is the last in the trilogy, loose ends are tied up. But Domingue saves us the plight of tying it all up with a pretty bow just to end things off on a high note. I found it very satisfying, the way things came together in the end, and thought it fit really well with the tone of the rest of the book and the series.
august 29, 2017