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Friday, September 28, 2018

Review: The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs

The Darkdeep 
(The Darkdeep #1) 
By Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs 
October 2, 2018 
Bloomsbury Children’s Book 
Source: ARC from pub 

When a bullying incident sends twelve-year-old Nico Holland over the edge of a cliff into the icy waters of Still Cove, where no one ever goes, friends Tyler and Ella - and even 'cool kid' Opal -rush to his rescue... only to discover an island hidden in the swirling mists below. 

Shrouded by dense trees and murky tides, the island appears uninhabited, although the kids can't quite shake the feeling that something about it is off. Their suspicions grow when they stumble upon an abandoned houseboat with an array of curiosities inside: odd-looking weapons, unnerving portraits, maps to places they've never heard of, and a glass jar containing something completely unidentifiable. 

As the group delves deeper into the unknown, their discoveries - and their lives -begin to intertwine in weird and creepy ways. Something ancient has awakened... and it knows their wishes and dreams - and their darkest, most terrible secrets. Do they have what it takes to face the shadowy things that lurk within their own hearts?


A nasty bullying incident leads Nico, his friends Emma and Tyler, and once friend Opal, to mysterious, mist-covered island. On this island, in the middle of a pond, the four kids find an even more mysterious houseboat full of oddities. And the oddest thing of all? A black, swirly well of water that acts more alive than not. Everything about this island, the houseboat, and the well screams SUPER CREEPY STAY AWAY, but the kids find themselves pulled to this place. Soon their wildest dreams and scariest nightmares collide in too real ways and uncovering the truth about this place may be their only chance of surviving. 

The Darkdeep is a middle-grade cinematic thrill ride from authors Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs, with an old-school horror-adventure vibe (think The Goonies meets The Monster Squad meets Stranger Things). 

Condie and Reichs write wonderfully together, creating a seamless and exciting voice. The world within The Darkdeep, from the rainy and cloudy Pacific Northwest town it takes place in to the misty, tree covered island, and the oddities filled houseboat, is cloaked in an electric, kinetic, spine-tingling atmosphere that just crackles off the page. Readers will excitedly let themselves be pulled into this spooktastic world. The authors do a fantastic job of finding that sweet balance between genuinely creepy and humorous. I don’t want to spoil anything, but will say that what the four heroes discover about and on this island is WAY cool and full of so much awesome imagination and creativity. 

And these four heroes (Nico, Emma, Tyler, and Opal) make for likable, engaging characters. Each of these kids bring something unique, useful, and admirable to the team. The authors do a great job of exploring the complexities of friendship and the importance of teamwork and trust. I really like each of these kids, but adventurous, out-of-the-box thinking Emma is definitely my fave! 

Readers who like their adventure mixed with a bit of spookiness will love The Darkdeep, with all its thrills, chills, and page turning fun...I know I did! 

5/5 Cupcakes

Ally Condie is a former high school English teacher who lives with her husband, three sons and one daughter outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves reading, running, eating, and listening to her husband play guitar. 

Brendan Reichs was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 2000 and The George Washington University School of Law in 2006. After three long years working as a litigation attorney, he abandoned the trade to write full time. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, son, daughter, and a herd of animals that tear up everything. 

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