Saturday, March 30, 2024



Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I picked up Where the Dark Stands Still solely because I had seen multiple people comparing it to Howl’s Moving Castle and saying it was a book for Miyazaki lovers. I love anything Miyazaki-related, so I knew I needed to read this book. It’s a standalone young adult fantasy set in a gothic manor tucked deep inside an enchanted forest. 

I can definitely see the comparisons to Howl’s Moving Castle as Liska and Leszy’s banter rivals that of Howl and Sophie’s. However, I would also point out that there are some similarities to For the Wolf, The Bear and the Nightingale, Uprooted, The Paper Magician, and The Near Witch too. I tend to seek out and enjoy books set in dark forests with mysterious love interests who have to mentor the female protagonist in her magic, and each of these books more or less falls into that category. There’s just something about that setting and style of story that really calls to me, so if you are also like me then you should read Where the Dark Stands Still. It’s one of the better books on that list, in my opinion. 

In this story, Liska makes a deal with the demon Leszy to rid her of her magic if she will serve him for one year. Easy enough, she thinks, but Leszy doubts she will even be able to stay alive that long. So Liska moves into his enchanted crumbling house in the woods, and she faces all kinds of magical encounters. The house is changing, doors appearing and disappearing before Liska’s eyes. Strange creatures are roaming the grounds at night. And Leszy is not what he seems. 

The majority of the book was more or less a story that I’ve read before and it was pretty easy to tell where the plot was going. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book. The Polish influence was unique, and I really enjoyed the characters and the setting. However, I wasn’t overly fond of the ending. I appreciated that it was nontraditional since I wasn’t able to anticipate where the story was going, but it wasn’t the most satisfying of endings for me. 

Overall, this book is a soft recommendation. Those who enjoy similar stories would likely enjoy Where the Dark Stands Still too, and those who tend to not like these kinds of stories probably won’t find anything life-changing in this one. I did think this was a strong book for a debut though, I am looking forward to reading more books from A. B. Poranek in the future. 

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