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M. E. Breen – Darkwood

April 24, 2009

44. Darkwood by M. E. Breen (2009)

Length: 288 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Started: 18 April 2009
Finished: 18 April 2009

How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 03 April 2009
Verdict? Keeper, because I’d like to give it another chance at some point.

Annie’s whole world is
quite dark, literally and
figuratively.

Darkwood will be released on 12 May 2009; you can pre-order your copy at Amazon. Many thanks to Bloomsbury USA for sending me an advance copy to review!

Summary: In Howland, nighttime is a time of absolute darkness that falls in a minute, a time when normal people don’t dare go outside, a time when the mysterious wolf-like kinderstalk prowl their forests. Annie, a young girl living with her cruel uncle and ineffectual aunt, never ventures out into the darkness – until she overhears her uncle’s plan to sell her into slavery. She escapes from her house, but the world is full of more danger, and Annie must save herself from a treacherous mining operation, the political schemings of the wily king, and the packs of kinderstalk that are encroaching ever closer.

Review: Darkwood is one of those cases where all of the elements that would normally make me like a story are present – plucky heroine in terrible circumstances, help from unexpected allies, dangers where you least expect them, and creepy nightmarish horror menacing from the borders. Unfortunately, although all of these elements were there, they weren’t put together in a way that really worked for me. The story jumped from one thing to another so quickly that it was hard to follow, and I felt like story points came out of nowhere, did their bit, and then disappeared again without a satisfactory explanation or resolution. It seemed like there wasn’t enough foreshadowing or enough explanation (aft-shadowing?) to bind each of the pieces together into a coherent story thread, and it left me feeling constantly wrong-footed as I tried to figure out how we’d gotten here from where we were not a chapter past. In any individual section, the writing was dark, descriptive, and suspenseful; my problems came when trying to fit the whole thing together. Perhaps I just wasn’t in the right mood/frame of mind to really get into it.

The back of the book says it’s recommended for ages 10-14, but I think that may skew a few years too young; it’s a little creepy and a little too complex for most 10-year-olds, I think. For older readers, all of the elements of a really good story are there, but it never really gelled into something I could fully lose myself in and just enjoy. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Youngish teens who like werewolf stories will find some interesting parallels here, and may not mind the jumpy storytelling style as much as I did. (Kids and their MTV, I tell you. Now hike up your pants and get off my lawn!) Older readers: there are plenty of cool ideas and great scenes, if you’re looking for a dark fantasy adventure and aren’t too fussed about some frenetic scene-shifting.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Lazy Gal Reads
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: The sun sets so quickly in Howland that the people who live there have no word for evening.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2009 2:18 am

    I don’t know about the book, but I do quite like the cover!

  2. April 24, 2009 12:47 pm

    Kailana – It is great, isn’t it? Nicely menacing, and relevant without giving away too much of the story.

  3. April 25, 2009 9:46 pm

    The elements of the story do sound good – too bad it’s a bit of a jumpy style.

  4. April 25, 2009 10:59 pm

    hmm This one sounds pretty neat :D

  5. April 26, 2009 5:12 pm

    Belle – I really wonder how much of it was the style and how much of it was my mood, and how much of it was the two not matching.

    Lisette – Well, about two weeks and you can find out for yourself!

  6. April 28, 2009 10:35 pm

    Just love how creepy looking this cover is!

  7. April 29, 2009 8:11 pm

    Ladytink – I think it’s the glowing eyes. Glowing eyes always freak me out.

  8. alexandra permalink
    October 29, 2009 7:39 pm

    i love this book

  9. Michaela Gingerich permalink
    April 29, 2010 9:34 pm

    i think i’m going to like this book!! i already started it and i like it so far!!

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