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Reviewed by K.J. Simmill for Readers' Favorite
In Rubie Woodland’s Eternal Dark, up before the sun, safe before the dark, follow instincts, and keep moving. That philosophy had kept Zade Kinston safe as an orphan since his mother’s death. The world was brutal, and ration slips were barely enough to get by. Until her death, he had traded chores for unneeded food, but as an orphaned child the world would think differently of him; anyone protecting him could face death for not reporting him. He kept moving and was doing fine until he listened to his hunger and found himself sent to reform school. Except reforming the boys wasn't really what that place was about; it was about corporal punishment. Although things had changed now, some children made it out alive. The children weren’t the only ones to see how this was wrong, but what can you do when a misstep means demotion or death?
Following the harrowing and disturbing trials of the boys and guards in the reform school, Eternal Dark is a dark and despairing tale about what becomes of those in a struggling world when society turns its back on the undesirable and the government establishes a person’s value. I enjoyed how Rubie Woodland allowed the reader to learn about the past and struggles of all the key characters while smoothly advancing the plot, ensuring the reader became invested in events, characters, and the future they hoped to create. Watching relationships develop and the personalities of the characters grow is a real treat for the reader. Finding hope in the dark and courage amidst fear as they enter uncharted and dangerous territory is inspirational. Nothing comes without hard work and sacrifice, endurance and pain, and this story has that drive in spades.