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DARWEN ARKWRIGHT AND THE INSIDIOUS BLECK by A.J.  Hartley

DARWEN ARKWRIGHT AND THE INSIDIOUS BLECK

From the Darwen Arkwright series, volume 2

By A.J. Hartley

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59514-410-2
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

A class trip thrusts Darwen and his friends into world-hopping danger.

Eleven-year-old Darwen Arkwright, recently transplanted to Atlanta from England, found out last semester that he’s a mirroculist: He can travel to the fantastical (and dangerous) world of Silbrica through mirrors. With friends Rich and Alex, he saved Hillside Academy by foiling the schemes of the powerful Greyling. Now, when he witnesses a boy’s abduction in the jungle while on a trip through the mirrors, Darwen wants to help. His mentor, Mr. Peregrine, now a teacher at Darwen’s school, sets up a class trip to Costa Rica (the likely location of the portal Darwen visited). Once there, Darwen wants to find the missing boy, but Mr. Peregrine has other orders from the Silbrican Council. Everyone seems to be working against Darwen, and he’s haunted by a vision from his past of a laughing clown. Can he mend fences with his friends and save the boy before a nasty developer takes possession of the area and the Insidious Bleck snatches more children? Hartley hits a sophomore slump with his sequel to Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact (2011). Endless and pointless bickering among the principle characters and a monster that sounds more Dr. Seuss refugee than fearsome beast hobble an already-sluggish adventure.

Neither a whiz-bang finish nor a tacked-on environmental message can save Darwen’s second adventure; hopefully his third will reignite the series. (Fantasy. 8-12)