*I was given a copy of Kill Your Darlings in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to L.E Harper for my copy of the book*
Fantasy author Kyla knows dreams don’t come true. Isolated and grappling with debilitating depression, she copes by writing about the realm of Solera. Fearless heroes, feisty shapeshifters, and mighty dragons come alive on her pages. She adores her characters, but she doesn’t believe in happy endings. And if she can’t have one, why should they?
Kyla’s on the verge of giving up on everything when she wakes one morning, magically trapped in her fictional world. Now she’s with her most cherished characters: the friends she’s always yearned for, the family she’s never known. There’s even someone who might be Prince Charming (if Kyla could get her act together and manage some honest communication). She’d surrender to the halcyon fantasy, except she knows a nightmarish ending awaits. Solera is at war, and its defenders are losing against the insidious villain spawned in the depths of Kyla’s mind. He feeds on the energy of dreams, seeks the destruction of all who oppose him—and Kyla’s become his number one target.
Kyla must trade her pen for a sword and fight to change her story’s ending, but this isn’t a fantasy anymore. No happily-ever-after is guaranteed. And mental illness has robbed her of everything she needs to succeed: love, fighting spirit, hope. If Kyla can’t overcome the darkness inside her, she’ll die with her darlings.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Depictions of mental illness including depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and self-harm.
Kill Your Darlings was an interesting read, to say the least. I really had no expectations going into it, but it was pretty enjoyable. I’m a big fan of books about authors and this was definitely sounded unique. I’ve read books about readers transporting to their favourite book world, but never an author in the world they created. Such a fun synopsis and it was done pretty well.
The pacing of the book was a little off for me though, it seemed to move extremely slow and then all of a sudden the book started to reach its climax and I was left wondering what had actually happened.
Now, I’m not going to be too harsh about the contents of the book because it’s a personal story that I think is based on the author’s life (not the fantasy world part, obviously). You could definitely tell that this book means a lot to the author and that it is a very personal story to be telling – this is why I’ve included the content warnings in this review, there are a lot of heavy topics explored and I need to give a huge trigger warning for chapter 27 onwards. It has very detailed and vivid descriptions of self-harm. Stay safe!
The main cast of characters were quite likeable and I enjoyed hearing about their different species and how they related to the book author’s real life (Kyla, not L.E Harper, this could get very confusing). I don’t think you actually learn the author in the book’s name, I know it isn’t actually Kyla because she goes to say it at one point, but stops herself. I’m not sure if I liked not knowing or if I’m a bit dissatisfied with never finding out.
This leads to my next point. I would have liked to spend some time with the author in the real world. The ending of the story explains why this wasn’t possible, but having a section at the start in the real world would have made Solera feel so much more magical.
Overall Kill Your Darlings was an interesting read, but it did start to drag around the middle. The pacing was way too slow and it felt like there were a lot of events and descriptions repeated too many times.
If you are looking for a fantasy read that doesn’t have romance (asexual rep!) then I’d recommend Kill Your Darlings. Just be aware that it’s a little slow and covers some very heavy topics.
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