✰✰✰✰½ Soon after the death of his parents, young Darwen Arkwright finds himself transplanted from northern England to Atlanta, GA. As if that's not enough, his well-intentioned aunt enrolls him in Hillside Academy, an expensive private school that's unlike any other.
When Darwen receives a mysterious antique mirror on loan from the equally mysterious shop owner, Mr. Peregrine, the adventure begins. After sun down that night Darwen is stunned to discover a secret forest accessible through the mirror. Soon Darwen learns that this other world named Silbrica is quickly being demolished at an alarming rate by creatures called Scrobblers. When Darwen learns that his own world is at risk, it's up to him and his new friends Alexandra and Rich to save both worlds before it's too late.
The Bottom Line: A. J. Hartley's new YA book is a highly entertaining and quick read with plenty of action. The themes of friendship and the power of love shine through this fantastical story. There is plenty of middle school angst to keep the dialogue interesting and the characters are fun as well. I hope there are more books to come; I look forward to seeing the characters grow.
If you enjoyed reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, give this one a try. Enthusiastically recommended for kids in grades 4 - 8. Also, recommended for both public and school libraries. While the target audience is boys, this will appeal to girls as well.
Details: Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact by A. J. Hartley. ARC published by Razorbill (Penguin Group) in 2011. 448 p. ISBN: 978-1-59514-409-6 Note: I received a complimentary Advance Readers Copy from Penguin Group for review purposes. This was made possible by the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.