I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of my copy of ‘In Darkling Wood’ by Emma Carroll after hearing so many amazing comments about this book and it totally lived up to my expectations. On a rainy day yesterday I wrapped myself up, hid from the world and got lost in this truly magical story.
It tells the story of Alice who is sent to live with a previously unknown grandmother Nell in Darkling Cottage while her brother Theo is taken into hospital for a heart transplant. Interspersed within the story there are letters from a girl who also lives in Darkling Cottage to her brother in 1918 who is away at War. They are both hoping for good news from their brothers and get caught up in the mysteries of the Darkling Wood. You feel that they are inextricably linked together as there stories unfold.
Alice is trying to stop her grandmother cutting down the woods after meeting a strange girl called Flo who tells her that fairies live there and will seek revenge if their home is destroyed. Alice doesn’t believe in fairies but strange events keep happening to delay the woods being cut down and she starts to think that maybe they really do exist. Flo is also a mystery to Alice, nobody has heard of her and she appears with no warning and wears the most ‘weirdest outfit’. The letters also reveal that the girl has found fairies in the woods and takes photos to prove their existence. Life gets increasingly difficult for both girls as Theo’s condition deteriorates and the girls who writes the letter receives a telegram that her brother is missing presumed dead.
We see both of our heroines struggling to come to terms with the difficulties in their lives. Alice is trying to cope with a new school, separated parents and living with a grandmother who she doesn’t feel wants her. For both of them the woods provides sanctuary and lets them believe that magic can be possible, when they are able to see it. However this is not just a story about fairies it’s about the need to keep hope alive in the darkest of circumstances. It looks at the importance of families and how the effect that tragedy can have on relationships and the bond that exist between siblings.
This is a such a compelling and beautiful story that you can’t help getting caught up In the lives of the girls. It feels so truthful that you do actually believe in the magic of Darkling wood and I love the fact that the adults in the story don’t dismiss the possibility that magic can be real. Although it has a bittersweet ending you can’t help feeling that hope, love and the belief in magic can be so important in the darkest of times. I truly loved this book and I look forward to recommending It to readers at the library.
Emma Carroll has also written two more books:
Frost Hollow Hall
The Girl Who Walked on Air