|Title:||Her Dark Matter Necklace|
|Publication Date:||17 February 2020|
|Disclaimer:||The author Robert Albo sent a copy to me in exchange for an honest review.|
“And if she fails the world will end in fire and ash”
Alice Blair is a very special girl. After the death of her parents and having been placed in the care of an aunt, she begins attending the prestigious St Robert’s high school where only the very accelerated may attend. The teachers all have titles such as Brother Sean and Sister Susan, and yet the school is not religious in the traditional sense. In many ways St. Roberts is more universal in its teachings than anything else – but we’ll get to that a little later.
On her fifteenth birthday Alice is summoned to the headmaster Brother Sean’s office and is gifted a necklace of silver with red and brown stones. An odd gift for a mere student but soon Alice learns that she is not just one of the special students, but that in fact she scored so high on her entrance examination that the founder of the school’s prophecy has been set in motion. What this prophecy is exactly remains a secret, but in the meantime Alice experiences very lucid dreams the first night she wears the necklace. In her dreams she is visited by a sort of ethereal being called Thronos – meaning ‘throne’ or ‘seat of power’ in ancient Greek. Thronos tells Alice that he/she has a task for her: To bring beauty to her world. This Thronos claims, is her destiny. In her dream she also meets a being known as Reina who is young like Alice and from a planet called Vepo. Reina has also been tasked with bringing beauty to her world, and together the two must grapple with their very differing ideas of beauty. Alice sees beauty in art and painting, whilst Reina finds music, something they do not have on Vepo as the most beautiful of all.
Meanwhile back on Earth and no longer in her subconscious, St Roberts has brought in a Professor Wendell Knightsbridge to teach the students about the very complicated theory of dark matter. During their sessions it soon becomes clear that not only is Knightsbridge a very sinister character, but that he has noticed Alice has a link to dark matter that may prove useful to his plans to possibly create a weapon. His experiments with Alice reveal her communication with Thronos and the beings on Vepo, and while Alice is earnestly trying to figure out the concept of ‘beauty’, Knightsbridge is secretly communicating with the United States Military as well as the Russian government. The peaceful teachings of Thronos are juxtaposed against the sinister actions of Wendell’s greed and the ambition of Charles Crocker, an evil businessman whose son also attends St. Roberts, and who also has rather ominous interests in Knightsbridge’s work.
“Perhaps the pendant acts as a portal between the wearer and dark universe”
With the prophecy hanging over her head, and the threat of Wendell Knightsbridge and what he represents getting dangerously closer to Alice, Her Dark Matter Necklace takes on an ominous tone towards the end. The lines between science and religion often blur, but in the most organic way, allowing the novel an all-encompassing stance on both. The soothing presence of Thronos’ voice aides in keeping Alice on her mission, whilst her real life in the real world is in fact very overwhelming and traumatic. She is also just a teenager trying to make friends and figure out who she is, and Albo is very sensitive to that notion of vulnerability. Alice, it could be said, is symbolic of all the innocence and morality in the world that is being threatened by forces controlled by greed and other evils.
Not your typical Young Adult novel, Her Dark Matter Necklace is an extremely pleasant surprise as well as a refreshing take on a well-known and well-loved plot device. Alice’s sudden plunge into the spiritual realm and the added bonus of dark matter and its many implications within the scientific world blend quite nicely with her challenges as a fifteen year old girl whose entire world has been altered almost overnight. While Alice’s struggles to make friends and ultimately to be accepted are Earthly struggles, it is her grapple with the unknown that is so riveting. I look forward to the continuation of Alice’s story, and to re-entering this both strange and familiar world.