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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Melody of Darkness (Spartan Academy Book 1) by Eliza F. Tilton and Redd Mercury introduces Jackson, who has been struggling since the death of his parents. Plagued by nightmares, he isn't one to back down from a fight, which comes in handy when he must defend himself against a gang and gets kicked out of school, narrowly avoiding going to jail. That's when his uncle steps in and carts him off to the mysterious school of Stonyhurst where he soon finds a place for himself and meets new friends. Learning ways to keep his rage in check isn't the only lesson he learns as he digs into the secrets hidden beneath the school's normal exterior. The deeper he dives, the darker the secrets he uncovers and he soon discovers how the school is connected to recent disappearances. His survival will mean fighting against powerful forces that want him dead.
Jackson's life is introduced through the current problems in his life such as a brother in the navy, nightmares, and deceased parents. This quick introduction sets the circumstances that Jackson is dealing with which create a catalyst for his eventual move to Stonyhurst. Eliza F. Tilton and Redd Mercury make clever use of these elements in Jackson's life to light the fuse for the eventual fight that would change his circumstances. Some good does come with the school such as new friends who help Jackson explore who he is and gain answers to questions he didn't even know he needed to ask. Nightmares play an important part in Jackson's journey and within the story as a whole while also being one of the first things you learn about him. Social commentary is woven into the story, including racism and darker elements that include gang violence, fighting, demonic elements, and even a severed head. The writing is vivid and captures the darker elements. Illustrations are included after each chapter to provide vivid visuals of various characters with a black-and-white style that matches the tone of the story. A coming-of-age journey, Melody of Darkness serves as a thrilling opening to an exciting series that finds Jackson at a new school full of dark secrets.