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(Darkhaven #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  262 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.

When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshad
ebook, 400 pages
Published July 2nd 2015 by HarperVoyager
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's the first time in a while that I've stayed up until stupid o'clock to finish a book, but I loved this one!

The city of Arkannen is beautifully detailed, with something new to 'see' every time. The characters are vivid and interesting, and I slowly got drawn into the plot; by the end I really wanted to know what happened to everyone! I didn't anticipate all of the twists, and the ending is excellent. My only niggle is why Ayla doesn't just fly out of the city...

Well worth reading.
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, fantasy
Sometimes I'm just drawn to a book by the cover. My inner fourteen-year old saw the cover for A.F.E. Smith’s Darkhaven and squeed. When the blurb for the book sounded great as well, it wasn't difficult to choose to review this book. Secondary-world fantasy with a murder mystery? Sign me up. Happily, Darkhaven delivered on its promise in full. Smith's debut novel reveals a great mystery set in a fabulous world.

I enjoyed the world of Mirrorvale and its capital Arkannen. A huge city, Arkannen is st
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
In a world where fear and power rule, the ability to shapeshift equals control. The Nightshade family holds the throne, but only a shifter may rule and a diluted bloodline may force one princess to take throne she has never wanted because of her ability to shift, an ability and form no one has ever witnessed. Some creature has attacked a sacred priestess, a shifter and Ayla has been accused and imprisoned. On the fateful night she escapes with the aid of her brother, this same monster has killed ...more
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Mon avis en Français

My English review

I was quite curious about the novel after reading the synopsis. It must be said that the mixture of fantasy and shifters is also intriguing. I quickly wondered elsewhere if the fantasy side would not take over the story and what level of it the author would use here. Yet, I find that this side remains fairly light, which was very pleasant for me as it is something I prefer. Besides, I can tell you right away that I was surprised by the story and I had a great
Kirsty (Amethyst Bookwyrm)
Thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK for giving me this book to review.

Ayla Nightshade never wanted to be the heir of Darkhaven as her half-brother Myrren was meant to rule but because he does not have the ability to shift, she is forced to take his place. Things are bad for Ayla when a shifter attacks a priestess and she is imprisoned as a suspect, but thing get worse when on the night Myrran frees her, their father is murdered by the same creature and Ayla is now a traitor. With the help o
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I was obsessed with this book from the first page. Deceit, danger, betrayal, and a lot of danger set within a magical realm - Darkhaven has it all!

I was instantly caught up in Darkhaven's lush storytelling. Darkhaven is told in multiple POVs, and I loved the insight from all the characters. It made it like a web of information, all the paths consistently intertwining. A.F.E. Smith really has a gift for story telling.

I loved the characters - Ayla, Serenna, Myrron, Caraway, the whole cast was fan
Gosh, why am I seemingly the only person on this whole website to not like this book?
For me, it really lacked world building. I had no idea how to classify it - was it steam punk? Was it Fantasy? No idea. Also a map in front of the book would have been great. I was lost a lot and couldn't concentrate on where the characters were located.
The characters... Oh well. At first I thought we would get some kick-ass female protagonist but it turned out to be a damsel in distress. Ayla did nothing but wa
Jul 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book a lot. I read it in a single night which was easy because it's a very quick read. Not short but quick. It flows fast and you want to keep reading to see what happens. The whole book is set in this one city which is really fascinating and unique, I'm not sure I've come across one like that before. So the characters and the setting all felt real to me.

Some things in particular I REALLY liked:

1 there was a good variety of DIFFERENT female characters with DIFFERENT motivations. No
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm not much for reviewing but I wanted to do this one. I won it in a giveaway. The author didn't ask for a review in return, I just enjoyed it so much I thought it would be nice to write something. So here goes.

A bunch of fantasy books I've read recently have tended toward a bleak view of humanity. Nasty characters doing nasty things. So something I liked about Darkhaven was its optimism. The characters are complicated and make mistakes. They have less likeable traits. And dark and nasty things
Laura Hughes
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lynn Williams
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Just finished reading Darkhaven and what a very enjoyable start to series this is. (at least I think or hope it’s a series?)

We start off with Ayla escaping from captivity with the help of her brother Myrren. From there we learn that Darkhaven is ruled by the Nightshades, people with the ability to shapeshift, known as Changers. The ruler of Darkhaven, Florentyne, is a Firedrake, the other forms taken by the purebloods are Griffin, Phoenix, Hydra or Unicorn
I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Ayla lives in a world where the leaders of her land can transform into terrifying but beautiful beasts. Ayla also happens to be the ruler's daughter and is his only living child capable of changing which means her father has taking the right to be heir of Ayla's brother, and given it to Ayla...and she really doesn't want it. After arguing with her father, Ayla is locked up and then the night
Graeme Talboys
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-books
This is a rich blend with base notes of the mythic and epic underpinning an urban setting in a world on the verge of industrialisation. A world in which the ruling class has turned in on itself and then stumbles – with far reaching consequences. And on top of this is the added spiciness of a mystery that will keep you guessing.

From the very beginning it is a story that grips. The intriguing set-up is wonderfully handled as the succession of consequences of the characters’ actions is almost hamme
Tricia Drammeh
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When Ayla escapes captivity, she finds herself in greater danger than she ever imagined possible. She can’t return to Darkhaven – not without facing punishment for a crime she didn’t commit. Myrren, desperate to investigate his father’s murder and clear his sister’s name, finds more questions than answers. Ayla teams up with the person she swore she’d never forgive, while Myrren has to determine who he can and cannot trust as he endeavors to investigate a string of attacks. When the mystery is s ...more
Karina Webster
This was... interesting. It was an easy read and intriguing. This mixed genres, we had a royal family of shifters (with problems), a murder mystery, steampunk airships and pistols, and a ringed city with distinct quarters within the rings that added to the fantastical world. We follow a priestess as she tries to help the new Overlord clear his sister’s name, said sister, Ayla, as she seeks protection from the man she held responsible for her mother’s death, as well as both the men, Myrren (Overl ...more
Steven Poore
Shapechangers, romance, and a murder plot - all contained within a tightly-controlled, heavily stratified city with an oppressive citadel at its heart... Darkhaven steals elements from several sub-genres for its setting, but does so with style and never loses sight of the central mystery.

Ayla's flight through the rings of the city, and her brother's quest to find her, contrast well against each other. Their father casts a long shadow over the story, both main characters running to escape his inf
Michelle Hauck
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really took off for me when Ayla is on the run from Darkhaven and collides with Tomas, the guard thrown out years ago for failing to save her mother from a landslide. Ayla always blamed him for her mother's death, and now he might be the only thing keeping Ayla alive. If he can stay away from the drink long enough.

Tomas quickly became my favorite character. He made the story for me! I loved the interaction between Ayla and Tomas. It added just the touch of romance for me.
Nathan Garrison
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a brilliant blend of dark fairy tale, epic fantasy, and murder mystery, featuring a tight cast of intriguing, nuanced characters. Had a hard time putting it down once it got going. And the conclusion managed to wrap everything up in a bittersweet bow, while still leaving room for so much more.
Stephen Moore
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A F E Smith’s Darkhaven was a thoroughly engrossing read. Set in a believable fantasy world beautifully realised, and with an intriguing mystery skilfully unravelled. A delight!
I received a copy of Darkhaven from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'll be honest, it was Darkhaven's gorgeous cover that first drew me in. Just look at it. Isn't it beautiful?

I wasn't sure what to expect going into this. It's been so long since I immersed myself in high fantasy that I've become a little intimidated by the genre; sometimes I find it difficult to grasp entire new worlds and remember everyone's strange names, but I've been eager to get back into high fantasy becaus
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was advertised as a murdery mystery in a fantasy setting. While that is technically true, at least to me there was no mystery at all. As soon as the characters were introduced I roughly knew where the book was headed and I turned out to be completely correct.

When starting the book I didn't know this was YA, but it became clear quite soon. Everything is rather simplistic and geared more toward the Y instead of the A. Still, my fault for picking it up, I guess.

Overall this is not a bad book,
Book Gannet
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this fantasy mystery with its magical shapeshifters and close sibling bond. However, the world-building is fairly light for such an intriguing place, which left me wanting to know more both about Darkhaven, the city it sits above and the rest of the country the Nightshade family rule. I would also have liked to know more about those Nightshades too, and just where their changing gift comes from.

But that’s all High Fantasy stuff, which isn’t always to everyone’s taste, so approach this
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wendy by: Goodreads
"Darkhaven" an exciting new fantasy adventure is set in the kingdom of Mirrorvale where Florentyne Nightshade a pure-blood shapeshifter rules with an iron fist. In a land where the Nightshade family rules because of their ability to "Change" Myrren Nightshade is considered abnormal; a pureblood who can't shapeshift. Usually he would have changed into one of five forms by age fourteen, mating with his half-blood sister Ayla to keep the bloodline strong but Myrren has never been able to change eve ...more
M.T. McGuire
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Where to start. Ah yes, first up, a disclaimer:

I have crossed paths with A.F.E. Smith on social media, to the point where I was interviewed at the Facebook launch party. I'd read her stuff on a critique site called Authonomy years ago so I knew it was likely to be good. I also knew that Harper Collins selected it for publication from over 10,000 manuscripts they received when they opened their lists to unsolicited submissions for a couple of months a few years ago. For all that, I wasn't sure wh
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in the exchange for an honest review.

There better be more books coming to us! Darkhaven was fantastic.

Synopsis: Darkhaven is home to the Nightshade family. They are the only ones left that have the ability to be a Changer. However, not everyone in the Nightshade bloodline can Change. It is a rare gift, and whoever has it is next in line for the throne. Ayla is a hybrid Changer, and a disgrace to her father. Her father does not want Ayla to inherit t
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it
You can find my reviews at: The Titan's Tomb

*ARC received for an honest review, thank you!

Told through different point of views, Darkhaven was an intriguing read of mystery and fantasy. Although the author kind of just throws you into this new and confusing world, leaving you to scramble to catch up and to understand, most of it is left to your own imagination, which I enjoyed more than long descriptions of buildings and such in most books. Arkanaan is a magical world which I loved reading about
Originally posted on

Ayla is a member of the Nightshade family and a changer.

Her family rules over Darkhaven, but not all of them can Change and only the ones with the ability will inherit the throne.

She and her brother, Myrren, are seen as disappointments by their father. One for her abilities and the other for the lack of them.

But something happens and, soon, Ayla will find herself on the run and being forced to trust a man who might truly be a murderer
Laura Liddell Nolen
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Darkhaven is a fantastic read- one of my absolute favorites of 2015. It's got everything- action, mystery, romance- but the story is uncompromised in spite of drawing from such varied elements.
For mystery fans out there, this book is perfectly structured. It switches its point-of-view from character to character, including the villain (who is not necessarily the killer- no spoilers here!) In the hands of a lesser writer, such a delicate balancing act might fall to pieces, but not here. Darkhaven
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: have
Darkhaven was such a refreshing read. It had the feel of an epic fantasy but without the ponderous descriptions and was easy to read.
I loved the mystery surrounding the death of her father and who could possibly be the other 'changer'. I had my suspicions from the very beginning so the reveal wasn't a surprise but it didn't in any way affect my overall enjoyment of the story and I enjoyed the hints and suspense.
The romantic elements were thankfully not overly present and I really like the shape
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Florentyn Nightshade, ruler of Darkhaven, doesn’t hide his disappointment with his children. Myrren, his pure-bred heir, cannot Change into one of the fearsome beasts who rule Darkhaven with an iron hand and Ayla, his half-bred daughter, can Change but her beast is an inferior hybrid. When Florentyn asks Ayla to usurp Myrren’s place, Ayla rebells and her father incarcerates her beneath the castle. Myrren loves his sister and takes matters into his own hands on the same night that a terrible murd ...more
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