Here is the full downloadable reader guide for INNOCENT DARKESS for classrooms, libraries, book clubs, or your own amusement.
Discussion Questions for INNOCENT DARKNESS:
● What fairytale elements did you find in INNOCENT DARKNESS?
● How do the two poems used at the beginning of the book tie in with the rest of the story?
● Noli loves to invent and fix things even though it’s not socially acceptable for girls like her to do so. If people told you that you couldn’t or shouldn’t do something because of your gender or class, how would you react? What if continuing to do those things endangered your family?
● Noli’s mother wants her to marry well to save their family, but Noli dreams of going to the university. Sometimes society (and parents) want you to take a different path than you personally want to take. How do you find where you fit in life when what you want to do isn’t socially (or parentally) acceptable while not alienating those you love?
● What does the existence of places like Findlay House say about Noli’s society?
● Steven/V feels like a failure in the eyes of his father. Why do you think he feels that way? Does his perception of himself change over the course of the book?
● If you had “The Spark”–that extra bit of something—where do you think your talent would lie? Why?
● Kevighn throws himself into his work (and vices) because he still hurts from the death of his sister, which he partially blames himself for. What are ways we internalize pain and guilt? Describe some healthier ways of grieving.
● If your job was to lure mortal girls into the Otherworld, knowing full well they’d die—but that their death is necessary—how do you think it would affect you over time?
● If you lived in the Otherworld, which of the six courts (High, Dark, Fire, Earth, Water, or Air) do you think you’d belong to? Why?
● Charlotte gave up her life for Noli. What does it say about her as a person? Was this act selfish or altruistic? If you were in Charlotte’s position, what would you do? If you were in Noli’s position how would you react if your friend made this choice? How about James? If the girl you loved was dying and made the same choice Charlotte did, how would you feel?
Activities for INNOCENT DARKNESS:
Science: Design a gadget that might fit into Noli’s world. Would it be scientifically possible? What advances would have to be made in today’s society for your gadget to actually work?
Art: Design, create, or build your own flying car or hoverboard. What would it look like? How would it work? What would you call it?
Writing: In Noli’s world the Civil War ended early because of the Great Quake Chain. INNOCENT DARKNESS shows only one way society could have changed from this—write a paragraph or two about another way the United States could have changed had the Civil War ended early.
History: Where INNOCENT DARKNESS is fiction, many of the attitudes in this book, especially towards women, are based in reality. Research what Victorian attitudes were like. If you were growing up in the Victorian era, how would your life differ? How would it be the same?
Philosophy: Noli is reading Aristotle’s NICOMACHEAN ETHICS. What are the main ideas? Why do you think it’s considered such an important historical philosophical work?
History/Science: Aether was considered an element in Greek and Medieval science, and was even present in early physics. In INNOCENT DARKNESS Aether is really magic leaking over from the Otherworld. What were some of the other explanations for Aether through history? What do you think it is/could be?
Music: Make a playlist for the book. Which songs represent which characters? Do any songs make you think of any specific scenes or themes? What do you think the book’s “theme song” would be?
Literature: How many literary references can you find in this book?