Be sure to check out my interview with author A.J. Hartley!
|TITLE: Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact|
AUTHOR: A.J. Hartley PUB: Razorbill
PUB DATE: 10/13/11 FORMAT: Hardcover, 448 pgs
Eleven-year-old Darwen Arkwright has spent his whole life in a tiny town in England. So when he is forced to move to Atlanta, Georgia, to live with his aunt, he knows things will be different - but what he finds there is beyond even his wildest imaginings! Darwen discovers an enchanting world through the old mirror hanging in his closet - a world that holds as many dangers as it does wonders. Scrobblers on motorbikes with nets big enough to fit a human boy. Gnashers with no eyes, but monstrous mouths full of teeth. Flittercrakes with bat-like bodies and the faces of men. Along with his new friends Rich and Alexandra, Darwen becomes entangled in an adventure and a mystery that involves the safety of his entire school. They soon realize that the creatures are after something in our world - something that only human children possess.
THREE WORDS: a Magical, Fun Adventure
MY REVIEW: A.J. Hartley’s Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact is a delightfully fun, suspenseful MG book full of mystery, magic, heart and laughs.
After the death of his parents, 11 year old Darwen must move from a small town in England to the US to live with his aunt in Atlanta, Georgia. On a shopping trip at the local mall, Darwen meets Mr. Peregrine, the eccentric owner of a mirror shop, who gives Darwen an old mirror. An old mirror that turns out to be a doorway into another world, Silbrica. Silbrica is full of wondrous, fascinating and even scary creatures, and Darwen, along with his new friends Alexandra and Rich, finds himself caught up in a dangerous adventure to save both his world and Silbrica.
Darwen’s adventure is a grand and fantastical one, and reading this book is an exciting adventure in itself! Fast paced and action packed, with a splendid mix of whimsy and real life situations, Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact will captivate readers from beginning to end and have them excitedly turning pages.
I found the story to be wonderfully original and full of imagination. The idea of visiting a whole new world by going through a mirror is reminiscent of Carroll’s Wonderland stories, but Hartley takes this idea and adds his own fantastical and inventive twists. Hartley’s writing is hip, smart and perfect for the book’s intended audience. The world-building is stellar; Hartley has crafted two worlds- the “real” world and Silbrica- that are both vivid and believable. The world of Silbrica is whimsical and unique enough to be enchanting, but mysterious and dangerous enough to be terribly exciting…which is the perfect combination for MG. While the real world Hartley has explored is relatable and thought-provoking.
I love the characters in this book; they simply shine! Darwen makes for an awesome hero and I love how “average” he is. Yes, he proves to be brave, capable and quick thinking and he possesses some special abilities, but his character isn’t over the top brainy or good looking or popular or athletic or talented…but this is what makes him so relatable, endearing and likeable. Darwen’s friend Alexandra is a complete gem of a character! She’s quirky, spunky, sassy and downright funny. And Mr. Peregrine reminds of other beloved, eccentric characters such as Dumbledore from Harry Potter or the Professor from the Chronicles of Narnia books.
I love the fancy, strict private school setting Hartley has created with Darwen’s new school, Hillside Academy. Younger readers will delight in being able to loath the teachers and mean kids alongside Darwen, while older readers will find Hartley’s teasing mockery of the school’s focus on memorization and order to be incredibly amusing and honest.
The ending of Darwen’s adventure in this book is explosive and thrilling, but Hartley leaves plenty of room for the adventure to continue…and I hope it does.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Just as Darwen crawled through his magic mirror and was reluctant to return to the real world, I loved falling into this book and didn’t want to climb back out. A.J. Hartley’s Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact is a fantastic MG read that will charm readers of all ages!