The Waxways series is an AMAZING immersive dark fantasy series that kicks off with book one, A Door in the Dark, and book two, A Whisper in the Walls, is out this month!! If you’ve already read A Door in the Dark and don’t have time for a full reread before A Whisper in the Walls is here (or if you just need a quick refresher on where we left Ren at the end of book one, we’ve got you covered with this recap from author Scott Reintgen himself with this summary of A Door in the Dark!

WARNING! Spoilers ahead for A Door in the Dark!

Key Terms for Book One:

Balmerick – The most prestigious university in Kathor. Ren attends on a scholarship.

Bond Magic – A rare magic that’s established when two people choose to bond together magically—usually reserved for marriage or kin relationships

Breath – A hallucinogenic drug that’s harvested from the corpses of dragons

Delvea – The main continent featured in the book

Devorium – A magical artifact that steals ‘time’ from dying people and stores it in a single vessel that can be activated. These items are illegal

Dires – The only unsettled territory in all of Delvea and home to some of the most dangerous predators remaining in the world. Once the home of the last dragons.

Enhancer – A rare type of wizard whose main ability is strengthening other people’s magic

The Five Great Houses – Brood, Graylantian, Proctor, Shiverian, Winters. These are the five main families that discovered the magical veins beneath Kathor and founded the first city

The Heights – A floating section of the city that was created by the great houses. It is home to Balmerick University, as well as some of the wealthiest citizens in the world.

Kathor – The largest city on the eastern seaboard and the capital of Delvea

The Lower Quarter – The district in Kathor where Ren grew up. Home to many of the poorest citizens in the city.

Ockleys – The average amount of magic required to cast a simple spell. Wizards are given a certain number of ockleys per month depending on what tax bracket they’re in

Revenant – A magical entity that occupies a recently dead body for the purpose of revenge

Seventeen-String – An instrument that’s commonly played by three musicians simultaneously

Tusk – The other people group that occupy the western half of the continent

Vessel – An item that a wizard uses for storing their spell arsenals. Most wizards use wands for vessels, but other items—like jewelry, staves, or orbs—can also be used.

Waxways – The primary method of travel. Wizards can burn specific candles that allow them to travel to other places—as long as they have an established visual or memory of that place.

Recap of A Door in the Dark:

Ren Monroe is entering the final year of her studies at Balmerick University. Even though she’s ranked fifth in her class, she has no offers from the great houses. This is unacceptable, as her larger goal—to take revenge on House Brood for her father’s death—will require access to more power and resources. Desperate to work on her social connections, she agrees to go to a big party with her best friend—Timmons Devine. It doesn’t take long for the night to go awry as Ren realizes the host of the party is Theo Brood—the son of the man she hates most in the world. The night ends when a drunken Theo performs a disastrous party trick—dropping a large stringed instrument off the balcony, crashing down on a poorer city district below.

When the morning papers leave his name out of the story, Ren’s frustration with her fate—and the general inequality of the city—reach their peak. She heads for the portal room to return home with Timmons for winter break. The room functions as a group teleportation spell and only a small group of students—mostly the ones on scholarship—tend to use it. Ren and Timmons are regularly joined by Cora Marrin (a medical student) and Avy Williams (a combat specialist). But two other students join them this time: Clyde Winters and Theo Brood.

Both are direct heirs of the great houses. Entitled, spoiled, and exactly who Ren needs to impress to make her way forward in her revenge. Before she can decide what to say, a fight breaks out between Avy and Theo over what happened at the party the night before. Clyde steps in, hitting Avy with several spells, just as the teleportation room activates.

Instead of being ported home, all six wizards land in the wilderness. When they arrive, Clyde is dead. They do their best to get their bearings, only to realize they’re on the wrong side of a mountain chain. Stranded in the infamous Dires with little magic and even less food. The group backtracks and find that Clyde’s corpse has been taken. Worried the animal might start hunting them, the group begins a grueling trek through the night.

The group must ration their spells, relying mostly on Theo, who has the most magic stored in his vessels by far, as his family is the wealthiest. Ren’s clever spellwork is on display and helps them cross a river. However, right as they’re about to arrive at the opposite shoreline, the entity that’s been trailing them appears. It’s Clyde. Not eaten, as they assumed, but resurrected as a revenant.

In the first encounter, Avy tries to physically challenge Clyde, who paralyzes him with some kind of dark spell. Avy is killed and the rest of the group escapes. Cora reveals that revenants exist when there is unrest in a soul. They return seeking revenge—and can actually come back to life they consume everyone who witnessed their death. Knowing Clyde will keep hunting them, the group pushes on toward the mountain pass that’s their best path back to Kathor.

The journey pushes them all to their physical limits, but it also gives Ren an informal interview with Theo Brood. She impresses him so often that he starts relying on her for all the spellwork they’re doing. The group also begins experiencing nightmares. Ren figures out they’re being forced on the group by their hunter—Clyde. Each of them is having to relive their own worst memories over and over each night. For Ren, that’s the day her father died.

Their first true obstacle is a nest of kobolds. They negotiate with the creatures, who allow them through, but unintentionally lead them straight to a wyvern’s nest. Theo surprises the group by removing his shirt and performing a ceremonial dance. It puts the wyvern to sleep and they nearly make it around the creature when it wakes up. Theo suffers critical wounds and the group escapes to a nearby cave. Cora Marrin performs minor surgery to save Theo. In the cave, Ren and Theo’s feelings continue to develop—which is particularly difficult for Ren because of her hatred for his father.

Eventually, the group continues on, not knowing how much progress Clyde has made while they’ve been holed up. The path turns into a climb and as they scale the side of the mountain, Clyde attacks. He uses a chain spell that traps the target inside of a dark memory, which also renders their physical forms useless. During the fight, Theo lands a crucial spell that knocks Clyde off the cliff—but as he falls, he grabs Timmons by the hair, dragging her to her death.

The three survivors press on. In her grief, Ren seeks distraction in Theo and makes out with him for the first time. They make a plan to stop running and face Clyde on their own terms. It very nearly works, as they briefly trap the revenant, who escapes at the last minute. This gives the group a small head start as they finally reach the pass that leads to the other side of the continent.

There, they stumble upon people for the first time. A farm. The group agrees to go ask for a meal, but not to stay long, as they don’t want Clyde to hurt any innocent bystanders. Della and Holt—the owners—invite them in, but during dinner, Ren starts to feel sick. She realizes too late that they’ve been drugged. Ren, Theo, and Cora wake up bound in a dark shed. The farm is a front for breath harvesters—people who use the corpses of buried dragons to create Kathor’s most popular and addictive drug. Ren faces torture as Della suspects them of being city spies—and they only escape when Cora activates a devorium. An illegal artifact that rewinds time.

The three of them return to the moment just before dinner and make their escape. Chased by Della and her fieldhands, they run right into Clyde. Caught between both, they take a side-hatch that leads straight into the dragon’s burial chamber. Even dead, the creature attempts to manipulate Ren, promising to deliver Theo and his family to her. They resist and make it through the chamber only to be ambushed again. In a split-second moment, Ren saves Theo—and Cora Marrin is killed by a crossbow. She and Theo escape into the woods.

They push on for hours, hoping to get close enough to Kathor to use the only waxway candle they have on them. Ren is out of magic, though, and any dueling from this point on would just be Theo against their pursuers. Theo surprises Ren again and asks to bond with her. A rare magic that’s normally reserved for marriage. He knows it would give her access to his magic, though, and he clearly likes her a lot. Ren agrees, but with the secret understanding that this might be exactly what she needed to get inside House Brood.

The two make a final stand on a bridge as their waxway candle burns. Two of Della’s fieldhands arrive, but it becomes clear they’re not attacking on their own. Clyde is there, mind-controlling them as a distraction. But Ren has a plan. They purposefully allow Clyde to draw them into their darkest memories. Ren noticed a key difference between her nightmares and Theo’s. For some reason, when she dreamed, Clyde was present. Forcing her to watch the terrible memory. But in Theo’s worst moment—the failed party trick—there was no sign of the revenant.

And Ren figured out why. This time, she experiences her worst memory with Theo there as a witness. He watches her father die and is surprised to see his own father in the memory. The two of them travel together into Theo’s darkest memory, and Ren’s guess is there. The revenant version of Clyde isn’t in the dream because the real Clyde already exists there. He attended the party. And this version of Clyde is vulnerable. Ren and Theo attack him there, which reverses his own spell—paralyzing the current Clyde—and allowing them to destroy him, once and for all.

The victory is short-lived, as Theo suffers a knife wound from one of the other fighters. Pushed by her bond and her own growing feelings, Ren uses magic to save Theo—and then teleports to Balmerick. Just in time to get Theo the treatment he needs to survive. Ren gets her first face to face with Landwin and it’s clear he doesn’t remember her. The ruler of House Brood attempts to dismiss her, but Ren mentions that she and Theo are bonded and have every intention of remaining together.

Once the immediate impact of her ordeal has worn off, Ren attends the funerals of Clyde and her friends, and mentally promises to destroy Landwin and all of the other great houses. She returns with Theo to the city district that was affected that was destroyed by his failed party trick, and encourages him to make amends by helping those who were impacted by the accident. He agrees, showing that there’s hope for him yet, and Ren leaves him to visit campus.

She arrives at the spot where it all began, and reveals that SHE is the reason that they were all transported into the wilderness. Ren had intended for only herself, Theo, and Clyde to be transported, but her spellwork had accidentally pulled in Timmons, Avy, and Cora too, and had gotten them all lost. Ren leaves campus with one final goodbye to her fallen friends, and the story ends with Ren mentally promising to destroy Landwin and all of the other great houses.


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