Title: The Darkdeep (The Darkdeep #1)
Author: Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs
Genre: Children’s, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Horror
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
No. of pages: Hardcover; 272
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Date Read: August 28, 2018
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 dream – -and their darkest, most terrible secrets. Do they have what it takes to face the shadowy things that lurk within their own hearts?
Thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books and Netgalley for giving me an electronic review copy!
There are so many great things that I can say about this book! It was one great read with mystery, creepiness, intrigue, courage, and overcoming fear. I was so excited to hear that Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs were co-writing a book. They’re two of my favorite YA authors and I can completely list them as some of my favorite Middle Grade authors as well.
The Darkdeep follows four kids/pre-teens that go into a “haunted” lake after a drone and leave with so much more. Emma, Tyler, and Opal head towards the mysterious lake after Nico falls into Still Cove while attempting to retrieve his drone that local bullies had flown into the fog. While attempting to find him, the three land upon this mysterious island in the middle of the cove. Once they find Nico, the four begin looking around and happen upon an abandoned houseboat in the middle of a lake. In the houseboat, they find a great assortment of odds and ends, but the most curious thing they found was a swirling mass of black water in the basement, The Darkdeep. The four leave the island, but continue to return and see what this Darkdeep can do. What they find is so much more than they bargained for. Losing control, they search to find the origin of the Darkdeep, and with the help of the local bully, Logan, they begin to uncover the meaning behind the Darkdeep while also learning how to overcome fears that they thought were long hidden come that have come to life.
One of the things I loved about this book was the theme of overcoming fears. The overarching idea behind the Darkdeep is that it sees your deepest secrets, the things that you don’t want anyone else to know. It brings to life that which you fear the most. I think it poses a great picture of overcoming fear. Closer to the end of the book, the kids sort of figure out that in order to “defeat” the Darkdeep, they have to accept their fear in order to overcome it. FDR said in his inauguration speech that there was “nothing to fear but fear itself,” and that’s exactly a great explanation of the Darkdeep: fear itself.
I was super intrigued by the idea of the Darkdeep. While seeing the promotion for the book, I kept seeing it being compared to Stranger Things. It definitely has that same creepy, otherworldly vibe to it, but it has so many other things to offer.
One of my other favorite things about this book was the examples that they gave of putting differences aside. Three of these kids, Nico, Opal, and Logan are where they are because of their parents. Nico’s dad had the lumber mill shut down to save an endangered owl species. Logan’s dad owns the mill and is the most well-known person in town. Opal’s parents capitalized on mill workers losing their homes to be in the house/street that they’re in. They all come from different homes families that have put them in a hard position. Nico is bullied because of what his dad did, Opal doesn’t fit in with the kids who live on her street but seems privileged to others because of living on that street, and Logan is acts entitled because his dad owns the mill. Throughout the book, you see Opal try to help both Nico and Logan; you see Nico acting horribly towards Opal, but then realizing that he was wrong and apologizing. At one point, you even see Logan apologize for acting horribly towards Nico. The growth that takes place in these characters is such that I can’t wait to see where these friendship go in the next book.
I’ve worked with elementary, middle, and high schoolers. This is a book that I would recommend to any of them, especially if they’re parents have let them see Stranger Things (and honestly, for me, that’s most of the kids I know). This was such a fun, entertaining, spooky, creepy, mysterious, intriguing story. I couldn’t put it down. I was captivated by the first chapter and couldn’t stop. This is definitely one that should be on you/your kids/your students TBR for the fall.