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In Darkling Wood – Emma Carroll

in-darkling-wood-emma-carroll“At 3.23 a.m. the hospital call to say a heart’s been found. Put like that it sounds funny, as if someone’s just discovered it in a rubbish bin or on a doorstep like it happens in the news sometimes with tiny babies. 

Except that’s not how it is. 

What they really mean is someone’s died. A stranger, carrying a donor card, has stopped living. It’s hard not to think of that persons family and what the hospital have had to tell them tonight. Yet without that donor heart my little brother will stop living too.”

When a donor heart is found for her little brother, Alice gets more of a shock than she expected. With her best friends mum about to have another baby there’s no one other than her estranged grandmother to look after her. In a new place, whilst worrying about her brother Alice is at her wits end, until she meets Flo in Darkling Wood, a magical woods at the end of her Grandma Nell’s garden. But things aren’t great for either Flo or Darkling Wood as Nell plans on tearing down the trees in a bid to forget the past and protect her home. Told alongside a series of letters from 1918, Alice’s story is heartbreaking and magical as she sets about saving the wood and believing in the mysterious. 

***

I am a massive fan of Emma Carroll’s writing. She does a fantastic job of making the magical even more magical and thankfully her latest young adult novel, In Darkling Wood, is no exception to this.

From the minute I started reading this book I knew it was going to be a heartbreaker. A seriously ill brother, a mysterious wood and a grandmother who is obviously hiding something makes for a great plot line and Alice makes for an interesting protagonist. The way Carroll manages to get her emotions and her personality across really helps the reader get into the story and I found myself vying for her the whole way through. In fact I shouted at the book, especially Grandma Nell, a few times on her behalf! The plotline regarding her brother and where that goes to really tugged on my heartstrings. Surgery on a child is a worrying topic and to go through that must be hard for any parent and will cause a hard time for any child, and it’s one that I’ve not really seen it covered in a book before. The idea of the fairies having an impact on the outcome of Alice’s brothers future was really scary, but I loved it too because it showed that having faith in yourself and having faith in something helps you get through the darkest of times.

I was addicted to this book as well because I really wanted to know who the letters belonged to and what the outcome of her life was. I had an inkling early on but it still grabbed me. I need to know more, I needed to find out if her brother made it through the war and if her father ever recovered from his illness. I also love the way that part of the story was based on the legend of the Cottingley Fairies which I heard a lot about when I was younger because of the Fairytale film that came out in 1997.

This book is the perfect bedtime accompaniment for when a teen is on school holidays with relatives they barely see, or when they are tucked up in bed on a colder winters night and can see the trees in the distance. I think the reason it spoke to me so much was because I grew up in a small village which had places that felt like they had magic of their own, like the woods in this book. I could picture Darkling Wood and Nell’s cottage really vividly thanks to the beautiful writing and I loved it more with each page.

In Darkling Wood was published on July 2nd by Faber & Faber. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
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