Where did you get the book: Netgalley E-arc
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Release Date: Out now.
Sixteen-year-old Lark Ainsley has never seen the sky.
Her world ends at the edge of the vast domed barrier of energy enclosing all that’s left of humanity. For two hundred years the city has sustained this barrier by harvesting its children’s innate magical energy when they reach adolescence. When it’s Lark’s turn to be harvested, she finds herself trapped in a nightmarish web of experiments and learns she is something out of legend itself: a Renewable, able to regenerate her own power after it’s been stripped.
Forced to flee the only home she knows to avoid life as a human battery, Lark must fight her way through the terrible wilderness beyond the edge of the world. With the city’s clockwork creations close on her heels and a strange wild boy stalking her in the countryside, she must move quickly if she is to have any hope of survival. She’s heard the stories that somewhere to the west are others like her, hidden in secret—but can she stay alive long enough to find them?
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
Lark Ainsley is stuck in limbo, and she’s unable to progress or graduate from school. Other teens and kids have had their Resonance (magic which all humans have) harvested to feed magic for the mechanical city that they live in. The city is run by clockwork machines; run by magic and protects the people from the danger posed outside the walls. However, Lark’s ability with magic is a source of Renewable resonance, and the city administrators plan to harness her as a human battery after they discover what she can do. The city is dying despite the harvesting of its population, but Lark manages to escape with the help of another Renewable. The other Renewable gives Lark clues to find another city where she can find sanctuary, and Lark soon discovers secrets, truths and life outside the city walls.
On her journey, Lark encounters a wild like boy, Oren, who becomes her guide and savior after he helps to save her from an attack of the Shadow people. The Shadow people are cannibals due to them being magically warped by Resonance. Lark also gains a clockwork machine called Nix. Nix was sent to retrieve her, but they both end up becoming allies. Nix was a cute character and really came alive. I enjoyed the scenes she shared with Lark as they both learned to trust each other. Nix really evolved as becoming an automaton to expressing more human-like and autonomous behaviour. I liked how this contrasted with Lark’s development. In a lot of ways her fate would have been that of an automaton due to fate awaiting her back in the industrial, soulless city where she would become a human battery.
Lark also starts to develop feelings for Oren, who I found to be a fantastic character. I loved how instinctive and in tune with nature he was, but he was really protective of Lark, although there is a bit of a twist with his character that totally shocked me towards the end. And despite their differences about his untamed nature and Lark’s need for stability and order from a world she’s afraid of, they also connect and bond with each other – and along with Nix’s development, I loved how this played out. However, I have to warn you that there is also a bit of a love triangle in the book. I was glad how it developed, and it never really overpowers the main plot or with Lark’s characterisation. But I have to admit I am getting a bit burned out in this trope.
Skylark is set in a dank and depressing world. I loved the stark and atmospheric tone which was full of vivid imagery, such as clockwork machines which felt very steampunk and industrial like. I also loved how it contrasted with nature gone wild. The juxtaposition of nature and the mechanical and how magic interacted differently with each element really gave the book, a rich and vibrant tone. I especially loved the scenes where Lark encounters a ghostly scene where a family enacts the moments of their lives just before the catastrophe happens in a derelict house. And where Shadow people would revert back to their old selves when they entered a new location that had a different resonance, this was chilling, stark and atmospheric.
I did find the pace in the beginning was a slow and the story only got going for me when Lark meets up with Oren and Nix, but I highly enjoyed Skylark because of the rich and vivid world-building and writing. The idea of a magical apocalypse which warps areas and people different ways was chilling and scary. I also loved the clockwork machines and industrial soulless city, and how that contrasted with the vast untamed outside which added real nuance to the world-building. Skylark is a darkly imaginative and atmospheric read and I will definitely be checking out the next book in the series!
I give Skylark a B.