Monday, February 4, 2013


by Catherine Fisher

Grade: 4 stars
Story summary: Sarah Trevelyan has a horrible job with a horrible lady, and constantly has to deal with her crabby, unpleasant father. Her family has lost their wealth and status, and now lives in squalor within walking distance of their old, majestic house. Sarah is proud and stubborn, so when the strange Lord Azrael, who has now taken possession of their old house and property, shows up and offers her terrible bargain, she is very strongly tempted.
Then flash-forward a hundred years to the twins Tom and Simon, a miserable life of being bullied, and a strange teacher with a terrible bargain...

Thoughts: About a third of the way through this, I thought it was one of the more creepy and unpleasant books I've read. But of course, I should trust Catherine Fisher. She is probably one of my top five living YA authors. One of her best traits, like Diana Wynne Jones and Megan Whalen Turner and my other favourite YA authors, is the ability to turn a plot on its head, where nothing was quite like you thought it was.

So this was one of the books where I finished quickly, and then pretty much turned the book over and started from the beginning again. So yeah, pretty cool. And I loved the way Azrael was portrayed (both before and after I knew what was going on, but more so after), and Sarah's moral ambiguity (which caused her to be tempted by the bargain in the first place) and subsequent character growth was great.

I will say that this book is a little short, though. Not just because it was good and I wanted more, but because it was perhaps missing a bit of depth. Especially considering that there are two main characters (Sarah and Tom) and each only really gets half of the book devoted to them.


Petra said...

It's so awesome to find another Catherine Fisher fan! That being said, Darkwater wasn't one of my favorite books by her. She could have done a lot with a reworking of the Fautus myth--addressed the nature of evil, temptation, and free will. Instead, it seemed like she just wanted the creepy/mysterious factor the myth could give. It was a nice read, but it could have been so much more.

RED said...

Yeah, that's pretty much what I meant by "missing a bit of depth", except you put it better. :) I did like it a lot, though. Catherine Fisher is not nearly well known enough. It's great that many of her older books are now being reprinted in the US, and are actually fairly readily available.