REVIEW: Dark Walker by Hikaru Yura

Tomoki Naruse has just started his freshman year in high school, and as with all healthy, young men at his age, he’s been dreaming of sex. But Tomoki isn’t having normal wet dreams like his classmates! In his nightmares, err… dreams… his partner is a man — and to make things worse, Tomoki is on the bottom! Aside from Tomoki’s unsettling dreams, high school life is fun — especially with his new, handsome, best friend Yugo Oda. But Yugo is no ordinary freshman — he’s involved in mysterious activities that Tomoki can’t even begin to imagine!

Warnings: Noncon, Dubcon, Underage sex, violence

Category: M/M

Dark Walker is an action driven fantasy light novel involving dreamscapes and demon slaying. Tomoki has been having sex dreams, which it turns out are actually real events happening in the dreamworld with his classmate Yugo. Both of them, as it turns out, are Dark Walkers: Humans that can retain consciousness within the dreamworld, and have been lovers for a while. But there are also demons and monsters roaming the dreamworlds as well, and some of them are after Tomoki’s unique magical abilities, so now that he’s awoken to his powers, he’s in danger! It’s a cheesy kind of fantasy adventure story, and one that I could see being developed into a fairly engaging anime, as it follows a lot of those kinds of tropes.

WRITING
Unfortunately the first third of the book or so drags a bit and almost had me giving up on reading it. The book’s most interesting aspects are the fantasy narrative, the dreamscapes, and the monster battles, but the first little bit or so dawdles needlessly on Tomoki being unable to remember the dreamscapes and trying to figure out what’s going on. Once the villains are finally introduced, the story gets quite a bit more exciting but until that point the writing is a little dull. Of course, it’s also an incredibly silly plotline that doesn’t end up making a whole lot of sense, but for this kind of indulgent nonsense fun it doesn’t really matter how much sense it makes as long as it’s entertaining. Once the plot starts up it is, but it can be a slog to get there.

The illustrations are nicely polished, if a little awkward in the anatomy department, and have a very 90’s anime vibe to them

EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT
I would have liked to care a bit more about the characters. The author does make the attempt to make both of the leads sympathetic, with tragic backstories and such, but the problem is that they don’t end up having a whole lot of personality. It’s tough with light novels of course since they are so short, but the villain pairing later introduced, Kanan and Shiki, still end up being much more interesting than the actual main characters, and I ended up more curious about and invested in them. In fact I ended up thinking that Shiki’s story would have made a more interesting and engaging novel than Tomoki’s, as his stockholmed feelings for his captor Kanan are pretty complex and nuanced. That’s much more the kind of thing I’m looking for from a novel like this, but instead it focused on bland Tomoki and even blander Yugo.

WORLDBUILDING
There was actually a lot of potential for this books world, and I wish that it had answered more questions regarding it. I was legitimately interested in the world of Dark Walker and would absolutely watch an anime adaptation that fleshed it out more and gave it some more depth. There are layers to the dreamworlds based on the dreams that humans have, there are monsters and demons that live in the dreamworlds, and there are a rare few humans that “awaken” as Dark Walkers within the dreamworlds and have the power to fight monsters, and possibly become demons themselves if they fight too much. There are different classes of Dark Walker as well, and a prophecy about an elusive female Dark Walker that only shows up every 1000 years. All of this is incredibly interesting, as is the concept of two strangers meeting in the dreamworld despite being miles away from each other in the real world. There are, however, many questions that the book doesn’t end up answering, but for the span of a light novel its pretty good and creative and I really enjoyed this aspect of it.

STEAMINESS
I found the smut scenes between Tomoki and Yugo to be painfully boring. And since they take up a large portion of the book, it made it a bit of a chore for me to get through. They are very sweet, rather tender and sensual scenes, not written with a lot of explicitness compared to other smut, and all in all a bit too anodyne for me personally, though I can understand it being someone else’s cup of tea. That said, the smut scenes with Kanan and Shiki are fantastic, complete with noncon, bondage, overstimulation, multiple orgasms, complicated feelings, ect… some of the more creative kink stuff that I’m looking for in a smut novel, which just furthers my feelings that Shiki would have made a more interesting protagonist than Tomoki. However, despite my enjoying the scenes presented with the 23 year old Shiki and his demon master, I’ll say that I was pretty damn squicked by the offhand mention that Kanan has been fucking him since he was captured by him at the age of 9 which is a big freaking nope for me, so please be very aware of that going in, it could be incredibly upsetting material to many.

This light novel had some real potential and I really enjoyed some aspects of it, and enjoyed other aspects far less. There are certainly quite a few things I would change about it myself, but if you want an action packed monster fighting story with some smut on the side, this is a pretty good bet for you. It’s short even for a light novel, so it’s pretty quick and easy to burn through in a few hours.

Have you read Dark Walker? Let me know what you thought by leaving me a comment!

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