The cover of When Darkness Begins by Tina O'Hailey

When Darkness Begins by Tina O’Hailey is a YA novel with a fresh take on vampires and time travel.

I love any books with elements of time travel and vampires, so When Darkness Begins was a ‘must-read’ for me! While it is YA, it’s unlike anything I’ve read in the YA (or vampire) genre before. I haven’t read the other book in the series, Absolute Darkness. Thank you to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources and Black Rose Writing for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in return for an honest review.

The Vechey are time-guardians, protecting time against the Manipulators who try to cause chaos and change time. All Vechey undergo the Ritual at 15 years old to take on this role. We meet Aithagg and Cartha, who are due to take the Ritual in just a few weeks. The Ritual decides where they will live, their ‘frozen time’ — a moment locked in time for them, where time stands still, and is their time travel ‘base’. But Cartha has no time-travel powers — she is a Linear, someone who can only live in a mortal, linear timeline. Aithagg is determined to help her — whatever it takes.

When Darkness Begins is available on Kindle and paperback on Amazon.

My review

In When Darkness Begins, Tina has created a vast and immersive world. It’s full of a rich history and lore that is incredibly believable. I was a little worried from the explanations at the start that this might be too complicated – that it would be hard to keep track of what was going on – but once I started reading the story this wasn’t the case at all.

The story itself follows several timelines, that weave between each other as the book goes on. The story is well-paced, switching between the points of view of several key characters – Alexander, Icaeph, Aithagg and Catha. I loved the way that the stories came together.

There is a lot of love and romance in this book. The love of Aithagg’s parents, who have been together for 27,000 years (wow!), and the love of Catha’s parents who are heartbroken after losing many of their children. The love between Alexander and Brandy and between Aithagg and Catha — both of which are short and fleeting love. While we only ‘know’ them both for a short time, my heart broke for both couples.

The character I am still unsure of is Eterili. On the one hand, she is the first Vechey, she called them to her and created their hometime, where they could be safe and come together. But on the other, she is very powerful and has a lot of control over their lives. She always tells the Vechey that ‘this is the way’, but is it? Or is it just her way, how she envisions that the world should be? She seems truly immortal and felt like a ominous presence, especially towards the end of the book. I found her quite unsettling but fascinating at the same time.

This was such a brilliant read. I really enjoyed it and I am going to be reading the next one. The ending was just beautiful. “There is no nothingness… There is only oneness of everything.” It was so unexpected but made so much sense. If you love books on time travel or time travel theories, then you absolutely must read this!

The blurb for When Darkness Begins

If you could change time to save your first love — even if it meant turning your back on the universe — would you?

It is time for the Vechey youth to earn their place as time-guardians. The near-immortal Vechey protect the universe from the devastating Manipulators — devourers of souls, mindless seekers of chaos. First, the youth must survive a mysterious and deadly ritual created by the all-powerful clan leader Eterili. Having regenerated thousands of times with the birth of each universe, Eterili is taking this one as hers and bending all in it to her grand designs.

Catha’s time-slipping skills are underdeveloped. She is time-blind — unable to see through time, unable to protect herself from the ritual. The Vechey shun her for being different. Her parents ignore her as if she were already dead.

Aithagg loves Catha unconditionally and will do anything to save her. He tries desperately to unlock the ritual’s mysteries and find a way to help Catha survive with him. Or will saving Catha enable the Manipulators to destroy the universe?

The author of When Darkness Begins, Tina O'HaileyAbout the author, Tina O’Hailey

Tina O’Hailey is a professor in animation and game programming, caver and occasional mapper of grim, wet, twisty caves (if she owes a friend a favor or loses a bet), whose passion is to be secluded on a mountain and to write whilst surrounded by small, furry dogs and hot coffee. Tina was once struck by lightning.

She has served as an artistic trainer for Walt Disney Feature Animation, Dreamworks and Electronic Arts. Any movie credit she has is minimal and usually found in the special thanks section. The meager credits do not account for the great honor it was to teach talented artists who worked on numerous feature films and games.

She has authored animation textbooks Rig it Right and Hybrid Animation published by Focal Press and the Darkness Universe novels Absolute Darkness and When Darkness Begins published by Black Rose Writing.

Find out more about Tina on her website, or you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads.

When Darkness Begins is published on 28th May 2020 and is available on Kindle and paperback on Amazon.