The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs

The Darkdeep Cover.jpg

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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 dreams – and their darkest, most terrible secrets. Do they have what it takes to face the shadowy things that lurk within their own hearts?

DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



TW: bullying, parental absence

First, can we talk about the cover? And how MG lit gets such cool, colorful covers? Because I love that a lot. A LOT.

But getting more into the heart of the story, The Darkdeep was fantastic! It was fast-paced, brimming with PNW eerieness, and filled with references sure to delight the target audience, then maybe scare them a little.

Then again, I know some 12 year olds who are probably a little braver than I am, so who knows!

Anyhoo, The Darkdeep was a fantastic MG take on friendship and fear, and all the things that come between. I really loved the main characters because they felt so genuinely young (with the exception of the antagonist, who felt older and meaner, which seems fitting for a character who’s by and large a bully), and there was an impulsiveness to most of their actions that felt genuine. Maybe they didn’t do the smart thing, but they generally did the curious thing, as kids tend to do, and then they faced it, which is always difficult, even when you’re talking about small things.

These kids did not face small things. They faced some very, very big things, both literally and metaphorically, and they managed to make it through. Somebody get them some badges because they have EARNED IT.

Also, props to these kids for not being a totally happy group at all times, because that felt so very real. There was tension. Some of the group got along, some didn’t, not everyone agreed. And while I guess that’s storytelling 101 to have some conflict, it was still really satisfying to see it here, especially since preteens can be OPINIONATED holy cow. Books where the whole group of preteens gets along like nothing to it baffle me because that just doesn’t happen.

My only frustrated with the book was that during Opal’s POV chapters, it’s hinted that she has some particular connection or fear of the Darkdeep and its powers, which is all well and good except it’s never expanded on. It’s left in its initial question form until literally the last page. This makes it work as a cliffhanger, but it felt like it was introduced way too soon and too noticeably with too little exploration. I felt a little cheated by the way the story avoided getting into it at all after setting it up so obviously. That said, it looks like the next book is going to charge right in after it, so I’ll be keeping an eye out in the future. I’ve got to know what happens to this band of intrepid PNW kids and all that courage they’ve got.

Perfect for fans of MG horror or Gravity Falls (especially Gravity Falls, actually!), The Darkdeep should be on your radar for October 2nd, which is right around the corner and perfect for any and all spooky reads!

0 thoughts on “The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs

  1. Wonderful review Meaghan! You know it’s only recently that I discovered that MG was for Middle Grade LOL

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