- In Darkling Wood by Emma Carroll
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55601-2 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55603-6 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-6
When Alice’s little brother undergoes a heart transplant, Alice is sent off to stay with her paternal grandmother—whom Alice has never met, but who is a better option than her no-show dad. Nell, as Alice’s grandmother prefers to be called, is not terribly welcoming, nor are her tiny cottage and the shadowy Darkling Wood that surrounds it. Still, Alice can’t help but explore the forest (there’s really nothing else to do without any internet) and there she meets a strange girl named Flo, who tells Alice that if her grandmother continues with her plan to cut down the Darkling Wood, the fairies who live there will bring pain and possibly death to her family. A few strange experiences convince the initially skeptical Alice, and now she’s worried about the fairies’ possible entanglement with her brother’s fate. A bit of magic and mystery adds appeal to this already compelling family drama, and even without the fairies, Alice’s concern for her brother, anger at her father, and confusion about her grandmother (who is hiding a tragic secret) would be enough to spur readers forward. Interspersed letters from 1918 from an unnamed girl to her brother at the front in World War I bring further intrigue, and Carroll manages to wrap all of the threads into a wholly satisfying ending.