Seventeen-year-old mathematical genius Willoughby has the weight of the world on his shoulders ─ literally. As part of a secret time travel organization known as Observations, Inc., Willoughby and his team, usually silent observers in their travels, are tasked with keeping the balance between control and chaos.
Yet after the murder of their friend and mentor H.S. a year ago, Willoughby and his team have sought answers to questions they don’t even know how to ask. Everyone on the team has suffered, and Willoughby can’t help but feel he could have done more to help H.S. and more to keep his team, namely his girlfriend and musical prodigy Sydney, safe.
Willoughby can “see” time code and take advantage of time junctions, he has a natural connection with time and can sometimes even track people throughout the time grid, a skill his nemesis, a man-like creature known as Beelzebub, takes credit for. Unfortunately for the Observations, Inc. crew, Beelzebub can also manipulate time but in a much more advanced way.
Hellbent on finding the Prime Hole Facility, a time hub created by Earth’s historians the otherworldly Atlanteans, Beelzebub wants to recreate history, restructure mankind’s past, and plunge the planet into chaos. He and his Dark Edge Brotherhood will stop at nothing, having already killed Willoughby’s boss and mentor since Willoughby is the key to unlocking a gateway of power, unleashing unlimited control over man. Before he can harness his full potential, he and his team will have to solve millennia old clues while searching for a lost ancient princess and steering clear of the Dark Edge, but very soon, both Willoughby and Sydney will learn the real cost of his power.
A prevailing idea within the novel is self-discovery. The characters often delve deep within themselves to find that hidden spark, that “push a little harder” mentality to solve the issues thrown at them by forces that want nothing more than to drown creativity, thus ridding the world of enlightenment and plunging it back into darkness. The characters have to stop fear’s subjugation and free themselves enough to look inside for the answers that are quietly waiting for daylight. Through that self-discovery comes growth but only when the characters stop looking to the world to define themselves (a lesson most people need). Only by genuinely finding the power within can Willoughby save humanity, but he can’t do that alone.
The bond between the characters is not only the key to survival in this high-stakes time game but is also a strength of the novel. Since Dark Edge Rising is the third in the Cryptic Spaces series, the Observations, Inc. team is firmly established; however, this pre-established bond will not keep the reader from enjoying the character interactions. Each team member has their own unique ability or place on the team in this something-for-everyone narrative. Despite their individualism, the characters’ friendship dominates. Repeatedly, the theme of unity saves the day and keeps the plot rolling steadily along. Each member brings something new to the story, and the alternating point of view keeps the story fresh and the reader engaged.
Cryptic Spaces, Book Three: Dark Edge Rising won First Place in the 2017 CIBAs in the Dante Rossetti Awards for Young Adult novels.