Children - Preteen
288 Pages
Reviewed on 08/07/2009
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

This dark fantasy revolves around Annie, an orphan.  There are werewolves that hunt children.  The sky is dark and overcast.  The setting is the future where man had to start over.

Sisters, Annie and Paige were sisters living with their aunt and uncle.  Paige disappeared about a year ago leaving Annie alone.  When she overheard her uncle discussing selling her into slavery at a Rindstone mine, she ran away.   The story continues with Annie discovering her world.  She and her two cats meet a variety of friends along the way.  She even meets a Kinderstalk (werewolf).

This book has great potential.  The target audience is 10-14 year olds.  The characters are well developed and each has a distinct personality.  The plot is interesting.  I’m reminded of The Wizard of Oz and Grimm’s Fairytales where the stories are more than a bit dark.  This is the debut novel of M.E. Breen.  I suspect this will be a very successful series.

D. Pointer

As I read this engaging and vivid novel, I was reminded of two of my favorites, which interestingly are not much like each other: The Wizard of Oz and The Golden Compass. Both, like Darkwood, offer a richly imagined alternate world against which a young female protagonist embarks on a quest. Darker in tone than Wizard, but not as fearsome as Pullman's Dark Materials, this novel reads like the first in a potential series. I, for one, look forward to the next from M.E. Breen!

Thomas Ehrlich

This is a glorious book for girls and boys, men and women. I am 75 and loved it. I am giving it to my teenage granddaughters, and I know they will love it as well. The plot is fast-moving and filled with action, but written with a sensitive eye and ear for the challenges that a young person faces. Although no reader will have to face the hurdles with which Annie must grapple, all readers can relate to the emotions that she feels and the wisdom that she brings to her adventures.

Pete Howe

Darkwood is a page-turner -- the best story you'll read this year. Like The Hobbit, without the violence. Simply written and straight-ahead, like The Old Man and The Sea. Lots to ponder about an only slightly magical world that is peopled with characters whose deeds seem mostly achievable and whose faults are all-too-recognizable in our "real" world. Darkwood's protagonist is EveryMan (in this case EveryGirl), but neither her gender nor her age matters -- each reader will be with her all the way. In this rich first novel, A Journey Begins. Don't miss the boat!

K. T. Bourne

Darkwood is one of those novels that leaves you thinking WOW! There is so much going on in this intriguing debut novel that I am still trying to get my head wrapped around it. The story has an interesting premise featuring a land that suddenly gets dark for no explanation, an orphan trying to survive, and 2 adorable cats. I really enjoyed Annie as a character; however, I felt like the cats were the actual stars of the book.

In addition, I have to give kudos to Breen for the major twist of the novel which includes Annie and her relationship to the kinderstalk. Did not see that coming. While this novel was a joy to read, there are so many questions that Breen left unanswered. At this point, it is unclear if there will be a sequel, but I would be interested to learn much more about the world of Darkwood.

Breen has a unique writing style that is witty, engaging, and filled with twists and turns. Despite some minor flaws, this was a very engaging book to read on a rainy afternoon.

Above average cluful

I really enjoyed this book. The characters and the world are fully drawn. There are exciting twists and turns that made it hard to put down. It has some pretty scary moments, but the resolution is satisfying. Nevertheless, there are lots of unresolved plot lines that leave me begging for the sequel. My favorite characters are the twins (short and tall!) and the two cats (stalwart companions). Highly recommended.

Mary J\\L. Jacobs

This one had a slow start for me. The characters are well written and the story really takes off after the first 100 pages, so stick with it as the end is worth it. This would be a great chapter book to read out loud since there is enough tension to keep children interested. It is very much a fairy tale written like Grimm's.

Sandra DeGaine

Wonderful young adult novel. Surprising twists and turns and a delightful heroine. Highly recommend this book to everyone.