Review: Where the Dark Stands Still by A. B. Poranek

Where the Dark Stands Still by A. B. Poranek

Where the Dark Stands Still
A. B. Poranek
McElderry Books
Published February 27, 2024

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Where the Dark Stands Still

Raised in a small village near the spirit-wood, Liska Radost knows that Magic is monstrous, and its practitioners, monsters. After Liska unleashes her own powers with devastating consequences, she is caught by the demon warden of the wood – the Leszy – who offers her a bargain: one year of servitude in exchange for a wish.

Whisked away to his crumbling manor, Liska soon discovers the sinister roots of their bargain. And if she wants to survive the year and return home, she must unravel her host’s spool of secrets and face the ghosts of his past.

Those who enter the wood do not always return…

Where the Dark Stands Still on Goodreads

My Review

From the moment I first heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. Polish folklore? A magical wood? A crumbling manor and a handsome host with dangerous secrets? Yes to all of these!

And from the first pages of the book, I was hooked on the story. It’s got some Beauty and the Beast or Hades and Persephone vibes to it, but I wouldn’t describe it as a retelling. This is a new and different story and so much more than a romantic fairytale. (Though there’s nothing wrong with those– I love them, too.)

I loved Liska’s journey. She spends her whole childhood and adolescence believing that her magic is a bad part of her, that it makes her evil. That it’s something she must never stop resisting. As she gets to know the Leszy and the creatures in and around his manor, she learns that her magic may be what saves her. In fact, it may save everyone she loves.

There are so many brilliant side characters in this book, too. Jaga, the cat who is not a cat, tells Liska things she needs to hear, but sometimes isn’t ready for. The hound who haunts her. The boy who doesn’t speak. The wise village leader. All of them bring so much to the scenes. The teasing moments and the snarky banter between Liska and the Leszy are so great. I loved both of them so much.

I can definitely see readers who loved HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS by Erin Craig or GILDED by Marissa Meyer loving this book.

Where the Dark Stands Still on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Eliasz has had romantic relationships with both men and women. Characters are Polish.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used once.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between a boy and girl. References to sex.

Spiritual Content
The story takes place at a time when the church has become a dominant force for faith in Liska’s community. The people’s old ways– worshipping or fearing old gods, the use of magic, the belief in magical creatures is now out of favor. Magical creatures are referred to as demons, and anyone who uses magic is a witch and could be cast out of their village or worse.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. Battles between humans and nefarious magical creatures. Some body horror (descriptions of bodies transforming in creepy ways and trees growing through flesh) and scary situations. Liska has nightmares and wakes to see a scary hound near her.

Drug Content
Brief reference to a times Liska stole a bottle of vodka and drank a little bit as a child.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of WHERE THE DARK STANDS STILL in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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