4.7 16
by M. E. Breen

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A fairy tale world as unique and mesmerizing as it is dark

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A fairy tale world as unique and mesmerizing as it is dark

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jennifer Lehmann
For years she has feared the kinderstalk, but when Annie overhears her uncle making plans to sell her to work at the Drop, she risks the dangers of the forest to get away. On a journey that takes her to the palace and into a battle she never expected, Annie learns the kinderstalk are not to blame for all the death that has been attributed to the creatures, and the mine at the Drop is much worse than she feared. From the first enchanting paragraph, the story of this brave girl hooks you. The language is hauntingly beautiful, and the action is expertly paced. Some of the twists needed a few more hints early on, but the revelations of the secrets were well-developed. Annie grows believably throughout the book, and the reader will cheer for her from the first page. The ending ties up the main storyline while leaving some threads dangling. While a sequel is not obvious, I hope for more from Annie and M.E. Breen. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann
VOYA - Betsy Fraser
When Annie overhears Uncle Jock making evil plans for her, her only choice is to run away. The only place for her to go is into the forest, which is too scary for even her Uncle to follow. The forest is home to the Kinderstalk, who are the bogeymen who frighten both children and adults alike. Annie would be surprised to find out that they may yet become an unlikely ally when she is found and sent to the Drop, the place where children mine the ringstone that is at the basis of a threat to topple the kingdom. Annie not only finds herself able to see in the dark, a very useful skill in a moonless world that lives in darkness much of the time, but also a lynchpin in the fight to save the children at the Drop and the much larger fight. Breen's first novel gives readers many elements from fairy tales combined effectively into a fast-moving story. It provides a strong female presence without any possibility for romance. Readers interested in adventure combined with fairy tale elements will enjoy this book. Reviewer: Betsy Fraser
VOYA - Sebastien Wen
Thumbs up for the eerie fairy-tale tone and the creative world (the missing moon was a nice touch). Thumbs down for the desperate and tedious attempts at creating imagery. No, this book doesn't sing so sweetly for a teenage audience whatsoever. Whoever had the notion that we teens wanted yet another Hansel and Gretel, Peter Pan, Wonderland crossbreed anyways? Reviewer: Sebastien Wen, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal

Gr 5-7

Annie Trewitt, 12, lives with her aunt and uncle, who barely tolerate her existence. When she overhears a conversation about sending her away, she decides it is time to leave on her own. She braves the dark night and its terrors (no moon or stars in Howland, and kinderstalk roam the forest) and becomes entwined in a series of adventures, among them a turn at a mine where children toil until they drop. Escaping, she intends to tell the king that crates of ringstone are being smuggled away. At the palace, Annie finds her sister, long presumed dead, and even more intrigue. Darkwood is engaging in concept. However, the pacing is a bit uneven with some parts seeming drawn out and others racing by, leaving readers wondering what they may have missed. The protagonist is solidly drawn, but the minor characterizations are thin. Better picks for readers looking for a creepy fantasy adventure include Avi's The Book Without Words (Hyperion, 2005), Suzanne Collins's "The Underland Chronicles" (Scholastic), and Derek Landy's "Skulduggery Pleasant" books (HarperCollins).-Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ

Kirkus Reviews
This unique tale shines with utterly believable strangeness. Annie lives with her aunt and uncle in an area where crops don't grow and people fear being snatched by the bestial kinderstalk in darkness. Night falls suddenly in this moonless land. Overhearing that her uncle's selling her to the Drop, where (she discovers later) miners hang by rope over a cliff to chisel precious ringstone out of the rock face, Annie runs away into the night. She has only the dress on her back-with secret pockets sewn into it by her beloved late sister-and two loyal, knowing cats. A garden, grossly vivid for wintertime, reeks of the same "tinny sweetness" as the docile miners. Through repeated captures and escapes, with fairy-tale motifs always present but never dominating, Annie slowly unravels the mysteries of her circumstances. Readers sometimes know more than Annie, sometimes less. Breen's finely tuned storytelling-pithy description, quick and keen emotion, broad trust of readers' intelligence-offers equal gratification whether readers spot clues and connections early or late. Both grounded and wondrous. (Fantasy. 9-13)

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Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
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Barnes & Noble
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

M.E. (Molly) Breen lives in San Francisco, where she works as a literacy advocate through the Carnegie Foundation. A graduate of Yale University, Molly has taught at both Yale and Stanford University. This is her first novel.


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