It’s getting dark. Residents of Arkdale soon will shelter for long weeks behind their town’s locked gates until the weak sun begins to shine again. Even in the light time of year, only the brave — or foolhardy — venture out to explore the nearby ruins of an unknown civilization, destroyed by some unknown catastrophe centuries before.
“There are dangers in the Darkness. Death. Destruction. Beings and powers of which the people of Arkdale are blissfully unaware,” or so say the Architects, a mysterious group that has taken over the town’s government.
Beneath the Ruins by Louis Woyak is a gripping, post-apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy. The story follows four young friends, Walt, Mallek, Lucas and Rainna, who grew up together in Arkdale’s orphanage. With rebellious spirit, they seek to discover the true nature of the ruins and the motives for the Architects’ control.
DARK SECRETS IN A DANGEROUS WASTELAND
On a trip to the ruins, Walt discovers a hidden door with strange markings. As he returns to Arkdale, he narrowly escapes an encounter with a huge black beast with thrumming wings. Entering the town’s gates after curfew, he must report to the Architects. In their oddly modern headquarters, Walt meets a young girl, Ophelia, who seems to know secrets the Architects are hiding.
At the same time, Mallek has been out searching for ancient relics with Baren, an older man respected for his finds. Baren usually turns over the artifacts to the Architects, who decipher and decode their purpose to advance the town’s technology. This time, however, Baren has found an object he believes is too important to pass along.
Baren doesn’t trust the Architects. He’s noticed the Darkness is lengthening. More people are dying outside the town walls and their deaths are recorded as accidents. And the Architects’ Darkness Defense Coalition is acting more like a militia than a protective force.
Rainna and Lucas decide to venture to the ruins to learn more about what Walt found there. Suspecting their friends are in danger, Walt and Mallek follow. Mallek has ulterior motives: he’s fallen in love with Rainna.
GET IMMERSED IN THE OTHERWORLDLY
Soon, all find themselves in the Dark Realm, a dangerous wasteland of multiple dimensions, androids, giant spiders, giant primates and the Draugr, an ancient, legendary creature that’s a swirling void of black, malevolent energy astride a massive, half-dead horse.
Meanwhile, Rainna learns her true identity: “She was the bridge between worlds. She was the key to their survival. She had the power within her to bend this dimension’s reality to her will. And so, bend she did.”
Beneath the Ruins builds its suspense and otherworldliness skillfully. Both adult and young adult readers will enjoy the book’s well-defined characters, its coherent plot and satisfying ending. In the best “leave them wanting more” sense, the author has laid the groundwork for additional stories and promises a follow-up that will dive deeper into the backgrounds of the main characters and the origin of the cataclysm that destroyed their world.