The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends

Young Adult - Fantasy - Urban
197 Pages
Reviewed on 09/24/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I've always loved to write. Early career days revolved around the newspaper business as journalist and photographer and I worked my way up to the role of Editor. I helped launch a small newspaper, reporting local news and photographing people, events, sports games and the occasional crotchety politician. My focus later shifted to the private sector, where, for 20 years, I worked in communications and marketing. In 2014, an unexpected business restructuring put a halt to my career and, with the support of my partner, Ian, I jumped full-time into creative writing – what I like to call my word movies. Since that time, I've written nine children’s picture books and two novels, including Darkness Descends, the sequel to the award-winning The Twisted Climb (voted Best Young Adult book 2016, P&E Readers’ Award).

    Book Review

Reviewed by Peggy Jo Wipf for Readers' Favorite

When you read Darkness Descends (The Twisted Climb) you will find J.C. Kavanagh brings up a topic many have often wondered about; can dreams be connected? This is the author's second book featuring Connor, Jayden, Max, and Richard as they explore this world made of nightmares. Just when they thought they were done fighting off wolves, snakes, spiders, and the scary scarred young man, they must go back and find Georgia who is hidden within this realm. Connor calls on his friends, but is amazed when he finds they actually exist in real life. Secrets are discovered, friendships are forged, and many paths are set for a better future. Yet, as they set one free from bitterness and fear, another steps up and grabs the cutters, making the reader believe this world will continue and the author adds another twist to this dreadful world of fright.

You will find Darkness Descends (The Twisted Climb) is written for young adults, and though it could have a "horror" theme, J.C. Kavanagh wrote this more as a suspense novel, leaving the reader to think about what they would find frightening in their own dreams. What makes this novel touch the reader is, as the main characters discover, that facing life's challenges is much more alarming than volcanoes, vine bridges, or falling down a waterfall. Kavanagh connects with young people at their level and addresses the trials they encounter day to day. I found this novel to be very well written and connected with the characters quickly. Although they didn't all come from homes where they felt loved, they felt real.

Lit Amri

In Darkness Descends (The Twisted Climb, Book 2) by J.C. Kavanagh, Connor, Max, and Jayden successfully climbed their way out of the Valley of Tired and ‘fall’ into sleep over the Town of Sleepmore. For them, the nightmare is over. Unfortunately, just as the trio is about to settle into their daily lives, Connor’s little sister, Georgia, becomes the next ‘Crossover’. Her fear traps her in the dream world and leaves her living body in a coma. They need to find her before the evil boy, Richard Hatemore, does.

The concept reminds me of A Nightmare on Elm Street but with a different and very well thought out premise. The common urban setting and urban life are balanced out with a fantastical and ominous dream world where unlucky ‘Crossovers’ need to climb to fall asleep if they want to get out of it. Since this is a sequel, I was concerned that I might not be able to fully appreciate the story line. Instead, Kavanagh made sure that this would be a good standalone, reintroducing characters, primary conflict, and setting without being repetitious to readers who have read the first book.

The characters are well rounded and there's plenty of intriguing development for some. Jayden’s troubling relationship with her alcoholic mother and Connor’s fear for his sister’s life make their rescue mission more stressful than it already is. I’m quite fond of Max as he can be admirably calm and sensible for his friends. The prose is clean and the writing style is straightforward with occasional flair here and there. Some parts of the dialogue between the young characters are slightly awkward to me. However, this is not necessarily a weakness. Overall, the clever plot twists make Darkness Descends an absolute page-turner. It ends with a hook that will make fans of the series eager for the next book. I truly enjoyed it.

Stephen Fisher

The Twisted Climb: Darkness Descends by J.C. Kavanagh is a cleverly conceived story that centers around three major characters. Jayden, the student athlete known for being a bully at high school; Connor, the best big brother in the world to his little sister Georgia; and Max, the youngest of the three but the brains of the outfit. The three share something in common, and that is when they go to sleep they appear in an alter reality dream world filled with volcanoes, wolves, fist-sized spiders, waterfalls and a protector. After weaving in and out during their episodes, while Jayden's father is buying her a jeep, she catches sight of Max in the back seat of the salesman's car. They both instantly recognize each other from the dream world. The two begin communicating with each other, then they wonder if Connor is real too.

J.C. Kavanagh does a superb job of creating a vast and puzzling dream world in which the characters find themselves having dangerous adventures while trying to solve the riddle of the voice telling them that they must fall, and then climb. Whatever that means. The characters are very well developed, and J.C. Kavanagh's descriptions of them paint a vivid picture in the minds of readers. As chaos enters the three teenagers' lives with trying to solve the riddles of Richard Hatemore's dream world, they have to balance their real life with the issues involving Jayden's alcoholic mother, and then Georgia who slips into a catatonic state of unconsciousness. The story kicks into high gear when they fear that she might have landed in the dream world too.

J.C. Kavanagh really brings this story to life, and I was entertained on all levels. The comedic banter between our heroes, as well as the capturing of details that teenagers go through, meant I could not put The Twisted Climb down. Outstanding job. I would love to see this grace the silver screen, or possible cable series.