Darwen Arkwright and the Insidious Bleck by A. J. Hartley
Target Audience: Middle Reader
To Darwen Arkwright it seems like forever since he and his friends, Rich and Alexandra, formed the Peregrine Pact to protect their school from monsters. Darwen is a mirroculist, someone who can travel through mirrors into the strange world of Silbrica. Mr. Peregrine, a local shopkeeper, introduced Darwen to his powers and is one of the gatekeepers of Silbrica. When Mr. Peregrine shows up at their school as the new world studies teacher, the children know something’s up. Darwen ventures alone into Silbrica one night and sees a young boy pulled through a mysterious portal by an enormous tentacled beast. The next thing he knows their world studies class is taking a field trip to Costa Rica. Of course this is just a ruse to cover up their new mission to find and close the breaches in the barrier between Earth and Silbrica which the octopus-like Insidious Bleck is using to take children. Once in Costa Rica the kids uncover a much more sinister plot to destroy the rainforest and the world. Although the constant bickering between the three friends does become tiresome, it is still a great adventure story told in a fast pace narrative. There is enough backstory provided for those who haven’t read the first book, “Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact.” The author touches on many subjects including environment, land development, archaeology, history, Costa Rican life, betrayal, loyalty, and friendship. Each chapter is headed by clever black and white illustrations. Recommend to fans of “The Mysterious Benedict Society” by Trenton Lee Stewart. (Book provided for review by Children's Lit - www.childrenslit.com).