DARKWOOD by M.E. Breen
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 9 - 13
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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)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59990-259-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2009