DARKWATER by Catherine Fisher


Age Range: 11 - 16
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A slim, elegant retelling of the classic Faustian fable, with an inspirational twist.

Victorian adolescent Sarah may be a menial drudge, but she never forgets that she is also the last of the arrogant aristocratic Trevelyans, now fallen into shameful penury. So she cannot refuse Lord Azrael, the current owner of her ancestral Darkwater Hall, when he offers proper work, real learning and even a chance to win back everything her family lost; all she has to risk is her soul. One hundred years later, Tom is another destitute and bullied teen, who would give anything to attend the elite school at Darkwater Hall—anything but the ghostly presence of his twin brother, Simon. When he meets a weird (but oddly mature) girl named Sarah, she warns him away from the new teacher, Azrael—who has just tempted Tom with the education he craves. While not as dense or subtle as her more recent work, this reissue of an early Fisher novel displays her spare lyrical prose and evocative sense of place. (This is its first U.S. publication.) The characters may be paper-thin and their motivations opaque, but they serve as effective players for a morality tale. Readers acquainted with Goethe, Milton or alchemical lore will be rewarded by a plethora of allusions both obvious and sly; but even those unfamiliar with the legendary source material will appreciate the layered symbolism and uplifting message.

A dark but graceful parable of temptation, pride, revenge and hope; ideal for classroom reading. (Fantasy. 11-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3818-8
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2012


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