So my province is kind of on fire, and we're advised not to really go outside, so that kind of sucks for actually Doing Things... but I'm getting a lot of reading and reviewing done!
Rise of the Darklings by Paul Crilley
Published: September 28th, 2010 by EgmontUSA
Genre: MG Fantasy
Page Count: 333 plus the about the author and acknowledgements
Part of a series? Yes, it's book one of The Invisible Order series, with a second book published in 2011.
Got via: I got it for review ages and ages ago because I'm a terrible person, and nobody cares about me anymore, but I feel bad leaving books sent to me unreviewed, especially when I like them, so here we are.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound
Summary (from goodreads): Emily Snow is twelve years old, supporting herself and her younger brother on the streets of Victorian England by selling watercress. One early winter morning on her way to buy supplies, she encounters a piskie--a small but very sarcastic fey creature that has been cornered by a group of the Black Sidhe, piskies from an opposing clan. She rescues him and unknowingly becomes involved in a war between the Seelie and the Unseelie, two opposing factions of fairies that have been battling each other throughout the long centuries of human history, with London--and England itself--as the ultimate prize.
When the Invisible Order--a centuries-old secret society of humans that has protected mankind from the fey's interference--gets involved, things really start to get complicated.
Now she is the central figure in this ancient war that could permanently change Earth. With no one to trust, Emily must rely on her own instincts and guile to make the right choices that could save her family and all of mankind.
Review: Man, I would have loved this as a kid. A practical but spirited heroine who turns out to be incredibly important to the world, London, fairie type creatures. This so totally would have been ten year old me's jam. As an adult, I still really enjoyed it. I loved how much mythology is used, how much I recognized, and I did really like Emily. While I wasn't absolutely in love with this one, I think it would be a great rainy day read for kids.
Plot Talk: Emily's parents have disappeared, so she's left to take care of herself and her younger brother. One morning, she stumbles across a fight between mysterious creatures, piskies, and is drawn into their world. Basically, what the summary says much better than me. The pacing was fine, and I had no real problems with the plot itself.
Characters: Emily's a good character. She's like the female equivalent of the male "Chosen One" that can be very prevalent in fantasy, including middle grade fantasy. She's practical but feisty, stubborn, caring, protective, and I really enjoyed reading about her. I kind of loved the practical side of her personality, because it's a lovely strength to showcase that isn't strictly physical. Her relationship with her brother was nice, too, although he doesn't get much time for characterization.
I did enjoy the other characters. The villains are good villains, and I never knew exactly who to trust. I also liked her friend Jack, who's a thief, and I know I would have liked him as a kid, too. I do wish there had been more women, though, especially since almost every female character was a villain. Just, more women, please!
PG-13 stuff: You're pretty much good here. Maybe some implied violence that would make some sensitive readers uncomfortable, but pretty much nothing graphic.
Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: Again, I wish there had been more women, particularly positive ones. I also didn't completely connect with the writing of this one all the time. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, but it just didn't draw me in as much as I would have liked.
Cover comments: I quite like the cover. It's a really good representation of what happens in the book, and it fits the book well. I think it's "neutral" enough to be attractive to many young readers, and the lettering is also really neat. Maybe they could have thrown the title onto the front of the book instead of just the spine, but otherwise we're cool.
Conclusion: While it didn't rock my world, this was a solid read, and I wouldn't really have any hesitation recommending it to kids. I absolutely adored the wonderful mythology elements, there's a lot of action and adventure that would appeal to a wide audience, and I really liked Emily. I am also interested in the sequel, and would have seen if I could order it from the library, except for my library card expired on me, and it's Canada Day, so I can't renew it until tomorrow. All in all, I give it three and a half roses.
Peace and cookies,