The Brilliant Dark is the third and final installment in The Realm of Ancients series by S. M. Beiko. In this last chapter of the series, the story is organized around Saskia, a Mundane who has been raised by Denizens. The Mundanes are the Muggles of Beiko’s world, but they are no longer in ignorance of the powers of the Denizens. This is our world revealed to have been created by the Ancient, a god whose silence has driven the world to the brink of disaster since a black moon rose in the sky and a black illness plagued the planet.

The five sister goddesses whose followers have powers derived from the elements are gone and the young Saskia believes she can fix things. She is a wizard with computers and technology. She was raised by Phae and Barton, from the deer and rabbit families of Denizens. The Mundanes are led by a genocidal fanatic who is seeking the pretext and power to destroy all Denizens and Saskia goes to work for him, hoping to exploit his project to save the Denizens and the world.

I loved The Brilliant Dark and the bold courage and determination of Saskia, especially when she finds the people she admires have lost their way. She does not give up on them, though, and hopes they can remember who they really are. There are deep themes about the power of regret, forgiveness, and memory. There is the power of narrative, or the Narrative, and whether it can be changed. There are many big ideas to think about. Sometimes, the ambition to explain the big concepts of myth-making and narrative submerges the story, but then it comes back to itself again, much like our heroes.

I received an ARC of The Brilliant Dark from the publisher through ECW Insiders.