Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs

The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs
  • ISBN-10: 1547600462 - Hardcover $16
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books (October 2, 2018), 272 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.

The blurb:
Everyone in Timbers knows Still Cove is off-limits, with its creepy Beast sightings and equally terrifying legends. But when a bullying incident sends twelve-year-old Nico Holland over a cliff and into Still Cove's icy waters, friends Tyler and Emma--and even Opal Walsh, who usually runs with the popular kids--rush to his rescue . . . and discover a mysterious island hiding in the murky, swirling mists below.
Though the island appears uninhabited, the kids can't shake a feeling that something about it is definitely not right. Their suspicions grow when they stumble upon an abandoned houseboat filled with all sorts of curiosities: odd-looking weapons, unnerving portraits, maps to unknown places, and a glass jar containing something completely unidentifiable. And in its lowest depths churns a dark, deep secret.
As the group delves deeper into this mysterious new clubhouse, their lives begin to intertwine in weird and dangerous ways. For something ancient has awakened . . . and it can detect not only their wishes and dreams, but also their darkest, most terrible imaginings. Do they have what it takes to face the shadowy secrets lurking within their own hearts?
Told from alternating points of view, this pulse-racing tale from bestselling duo Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs is the start of a high-stakes, thrilling series about friendship and believing in yourself--and each other.


I hadn't planned to stay up much of the night reading The Darkdeep. I was just going to start a chapter, see if this would be the next book on my list.  But I found myself drawn into the world of five 12-year olds.  Nico Holland's father works for the Parks Department and found that the horned owl lives in the woods near Timbers.  Mr. Holland's efforts to save the horned owl meant that much of the woods were saved from deforestation, that the main employer, a lumber company, had to let go of a majority of its workers.  Nico was suddenly persona non grata in town and the target of bullying. Lucas, whose father owns the timber mill, is especially angry with Nico and delights in tormenting him. 

When a bullying incident goes too far and Nico's life is endangered, his best friends risk their own lives to enter a foggy area with a deep drop and murky water.  The children discover that this strange isolated place has some strange magic and an abandoned houseboat with unusual powers.  There are fascinating artifacts -- Opal and Tyler start taking an inventory (kids after my own heart!) but Emma's curiosity leads them to the Darkdeep, a pool of water that has the ability to read what is in their hearts and make it come alive. When the kids go through Darkdeep, they are able to make their thoughts, dreams, fears take shape in the real world.  First it is sparkly unicorns and imaginary friends from childhood but the imaginings take a darker turn and their nightmares come alive. When these imaginings are able to cross out of the special space and invade the town, the children must work together - even Lucas, Nico's nemesis, becomes part of the group.

The Darkdeep is delightful read. It's the sort of book I'd recommend gifting to a reluctant reader - it has just enough adventure, magic and the delights of friendship to get a child to fall in love with reading.

About the Authors:
Ally Condie is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Matched Trilogy and of the middle-grade novel Summerlost, a 2016 Edgar Award Finalist for Best Juvenile Mystery. A former English teacher, she lives with her husband and four children outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, and is the founder of the non-profit WriteOut Foundation.
Brendan Reichs is the author of the instant New York Times bestseller Nemesis and its sequel Genesis, and co-author of the six-volume Virals series. Brendan is also a member of the Executive Board for both YALLFEST and YALLWEST literary festivals and has received a MFA in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife, son, daughter, and a herd of animals that tear up everything.

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