In Darkling Wood - Emma Carroll

Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy
Synopsis: When Alice's brother gets a longed-for chance for a heart transplant, Alice is suddenly bundled off to her estranged grandmother's house. There's nothing good about staying with Nell, except for the beautiful Darkling Wood at the end of her garden - but Nell wants to have it cut down. Alice feels at home there, at peace, and even finds a friend, Flo. But Flo doesn't seem to go to the local school and no one in town has heard of a girl with that name. When Flo shows Alice the surprising secrets of Darkling Wood, Alice starts to wonder, what is real? And can she find out in time to save the wood from destruction?


Review: Look at that cover! The covers of Emma's books are always so beautiful. I have e-copies of all of them, but I'm tempted to buy hardcopies.

Anyway. In Darkling Wood was good, but not as good as Frost Hollow Hall. This could be down to my own personal perferences in story elements - I love Victorian ghost stories, I'm not so mad about fairy stories set in the woods. That said, In Darkling Wood is Emma's newest novel, and everything about her writing ability that I loved in Frost Hollow Hall is also found here - it's a decent length novel with a relatively complex plot which does not pander either in concept or content to the intended Middle Grade audience it is aimed at. I did feel that the three storylines - Darkling Wood past and present, and that of Emma's little brother, did not all gel together very well. The involvement of her brother seemed relatively arbitrary and the threat of the fairies never felt very real. It still kepy me interested, though.

As well as that, I felt the characters lacked a bit of depth, although kudos to Emma for how she handled the teensy bit of implied romance between two of the characters - a mild, off-handed afterthought as opposed to any kind of overdone focus. All the same, I did really like the characters and loved learning about them. I suspect my issues with this book are largely based in bias, though, and I do think it's a great book for kids.

Rating: 3/5

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