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Darkside (Darkside Series #1)
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Darkside (Darkside Series #1)

4.3 10
by Tom Becker

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A bone-chilling thriller about the Darkside of London, where vampires and werewolves stalk the streets and evil lurks....

Jonathan Starling's home has been attacked, his dad is in an asylum, he's running for his life, and there's nowhere to hide. Jonathan has stumbled upon London's greatest secret: Darkside. Incredibly dangerous and unimaginably exciting,


A bone-chilling thriller about the Darkside of London, where vampires and werewolves stalk the streets and evil lurks....

Jonathan Starling's home has been attacked, his dad is in an asylum, he's running for his life, and there's nowhere to hide. Jonathan has stumbled upon London's greatest secret: Darkside. Incredibly dangerous and unimaginably exciting, Darkside is the creepiest place Jonathan has ever seen. It's a world of nightmares and secrets, where fear and evil rule, and Jonathan has to find a way out....

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 8 to 12.

Jonathan Starling lives alone with his father, but he might as well be on his own. His father is frequently ill and spends much of his time locked alone in his study. One day Mr. Starling falls ill and goes to the hospital. Jonathan decides to stay home alone instead of going to a neighbor's house, but something strange breaks in. Jonathan hides in the mysteriously-open study and calls for help. When his neighbor gets there, no one is in the house, but there are huge scratches on the door behind which Jonathan was hiding. Jonathan learns that his father is ill so often because he used to visit Darkside, a secret London. When Jonathan is pursued by some strange men and a woman with hypnotic perfume and brightly colored hair, Mr. Starling rouses enough to tell Jonathan to go to Darkside and seek out Carnegie, a man who supposedly will keep Jonathan safe. But Darkside is aptly named--werewolves and vampires populate this part of London, which is run by the descendants of Jack the Ripper. And for some reason, they all seem to be out to get Jonathan. The first book in the "Darkside" series is a fast-paced fantasy/horror adventure, full of fascinating characters, intense situations, and superb plot twists. The only detraction from this excellent story is the character of Raquelle, a Darkside servant girl who is mostly portrayed as tough-talking and brave but who does sometimes slip into a stereotypical girl role, grasping at Jonathan's arm and calling out to him for protection. While this should not particularly deter readers, it is irksome when it goes against the character that has already been established by other brave actions, such as stealing the car of hervampire employer to help Carnegie and Jonathan. Reviewer: Kathleen Foucart

Average Londoners have no idea that they are living in a dimension of the city called Lightside. Its counterpart, Darkside, is a seedy alternate reality inhabited by werewolves, vampires, murderers, and other undesirables. Crossing from one to the other is very dangerous, and few are able to accomplish it. Marianne, a bounty hunter, kidnaps student Ricky Thomas, takes him to Darkside, and delivers him to Grimshaw, ringmaster of the Beastilia Exotica. Grimshaw plans to feed Ricky to hungry jackals in front of a live audience. He has also hired Marianne to find Jonathan Starling, another teen. In the meantime, Jonathan's mentally ill father, Alain, has to be hospitalized. Jonathan finds that his father has been studying Darkside and has a werewolf friend there named Carnegie. Jonathan manages to cross over to Darkside, find Carnegie, and enlist his help. For unknown reasons, Vendetta, an evil vampire from Darkside, is after Alain. Jonathan frees Ricky from Grimshaw's clutches and then rushes back to Lightside in order to save his father from Vendetta. During the story, it is revealed that both Jonathan and Ricky are "crossbreeds," half-Darksider and half-Lightsider. All ends well, but unanswered questions abound, and the stage is set for a sequel. Becker writes a bold, fun, action-packed fantasy that will keep readers on the edges of their seats. His story line is complex without being confusing, and his main characters are quite appealing. This novel is a good choice for reluctant readers and younger Harry Potter fans. Reviewer: Dotsy Harland
Fourteen-year-old Jonathan Starling gains entry into a nightmarish world under the streets of London in this deliciously creepy horror story. His father is in an asylum, his home is attacked, and a bewitching woman tries to kidnap him in the library; clues in his father's study lead Jonathan to the "evil wasteland" of Darkside and a private detective there named Carnegie, who happens to also be a werewolf. Founded by Jack the Ripper, Darkside has a population of lowlifes, criminals, and vampires, like the evil Vendetta, who is hunting Jonathan for his own nefarious purposes. Jonathan ends up in the "World Famous Beastilia Exotica," where deadly creatures fight each other, and humans, and people pay not to get in, but to get out. Full of nasty creatures and narrow escapes, Darkside is reminiscent of Darren Shan's Demonata series, Anthony Horowitz's Gatekeepers series, and Kate Wild's Fight Game, with its fight scenes and its air of malevolent suspense. It's bound to be a popular choice among horror fans, who will eagerly anticipate the next in the series. Age Range: Ages 12 to 18. REVIEWER: Paula Rohrlick (Vol. 42, No. 1)
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

British author Tom Becker has created a nifty horror tale (Orchard, 2008) that will appeal to fans of Darren Shan. Jonathan Starling, 14, knows his way around the streets of London. His father battles periods of mental illness-darkening-and Jonathan is left to fend for himself. When the teen is chased by a sweet-smelling, orange-haired bounty hunter, he unwittingly discovers Darkside, an alternative London where werewolves, faeries, and vampires roam the Victorian streets. He meets Carnegie, a werewolf detective with a heart of gold, and they discover Jonathan is part darkside. Some issues are resolved, but sequels to this novel have already been published in Britain. Narrator Colin Moody paces the story well and gives each character a unique personality. The story is spooky enough to intrigue older listeners but gentle enough for youngsters who prefer their stories with shivers.-Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK

Kirkus Reviews
Contemporary gothic horror of the juiciest kind. In modern-day London, a perfumed woman with fluorescent hair abducts 13-year-old Ricky. The narrative then switches to Jonathan, an independent 14-year-old whose father suffers bouts of mental illness or "darkening." As the kidnappers pursue Jonathan, he pursues his father's obsession, a place called Darkside that " ‘tears pieces of your soul away.' " Fluorescent Marianne and her goons follow Jonathan to Darkside, where he finds a friend of his father's who happens to be a werewolf (" ‘wereman,' " corrects Carnegie after nearly eating Jonathan). Darkside, reached by damp pipe or abandoned tube station, is a grisly and fetid alternate London. Ghoulish figures in stovepipe hats throng the sidewalks, kicking and elbowing; screams puncture the night; murder is ubiquitous. Two separate people have put a price on Jonathan's head, one to place him in a death menagerie with Ricky. Becker switches threads rarely but with perfectly timed precision. Revenge upon those who escape immediate harm looms large for the next installment, as does Jonathan and Ricky's mysterious Darkside heritage. Grounded, yet delectably lurid. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Darkside Series , #1
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Since Tom Becker learned to hold a pen, he wanted to become a writer. Tom studied history at Oxford University and was inspired by the otherworldly atmosphere of this academic institution. He used to spend long days studying and reading in the University library, but now he spends long days writing. He is the author of the first two books in the Darkside series. His first book in the series, DARKSIDE, was awarded the 2007 Waterstone's Children's Book Prize, which celebrates new talent. He lives in the UK.

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Darkside 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Picture a windy dark night. The rain is hammering against the house. The lights are flickering from the wind pounding the power lines. The rest of the house is asleep. The clock slowly inches towards 2:00am.

Does that catch your attention? Well, I had to set the mood for how I found myself last night with the horrible weather and DARKSIDE in my hands. I had spent the better part of the day in bed with a migraine. So, finally feeling better, the rest of the family was asleep, and I was wide awake. And in more ways than one.

DARKSIDE had my pulse racing from page one, and with the weather conditions going on outside, I wasn't sure if I should keep reading or put the book down and wait until the sun came out the next day. But I was already wrapped up in the developing story of Jonathan Starling and his journey to Darkside.

Jonathan is fourteen, a loner, and can pretty much do as he pleases. His father is often hospitalized for what he calls "the darkening," leaving Jonathan to fend for himself. After his father's latest hospital admission, Jonathan and their neighbor, Mrs. Elwood, venture off to find Carnegie.

Jonathan has never heard of this Mr. Carnegie before, and Mrs. Elwood is evasive. Driving toward the Thames River, Mrs. Elwood's car is attacked. The passenger door is literally ripped off the side of the car. Mrs. Elwood tells Jonathan to run, and the heart-pounding adventure begins.

Jonathan has investigated his father's study (which he has usually found locked) and discovered references to this Darkside. His father has never mentioned it before, and Jonathan can only surmise it is the reason behind his dad's illness. Following hints he's uncovered, he is able to find his way to Darkside and to the well known Mr. Carnegie.

Darkside is the opposite of Lightside, or the world as we know it. Darkside is the meanest, vilest parts of London. Inhabited by the likes of weremen, vampires, and the progeny of Jack the Ripper, Jonathan is forced to survive if he has any hope of helping his dad recover from his latest hospital admission.

Mr. Becker has written a fast-paced, page-turning adventure. I am not usually a fan of the fantasy genre, but I was pulled into the action of the book from the first page. The story is a bit graphic in the descriptions of Darkside, so the younger reader should be warned. But the book was quite thrilling and the ending has been left open for more adventures featuring Jonathan and Carnegie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though the reading level is lower than my usual choices, I was still very pleased with this book. The author keeps the story interesting and intertwines mystery and suspense without leaving a massive cliffhanger at the end. It was well-executed and held together from start to finish. Excitement, fun, and suspense await anyone who reads!!! I can't wait for the next books in this amazingly thorough series!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i loved this book!! it is a very good book for people who like things scary, like me
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was scary because there was a lot of creapy things that went on. Thsi boy in London falls apon one of Londons greatest features Darkside. He enters this so called Darkside and he can't find his way out. there is monsters all around and he thiknds he sees a lot but he doesnT know there are more hidding. All he knows is that he has to make it back out into the Lightside of London but he doesn't know the way. To find out if he makes it back out to the Lightside of London you will have t oread the book.