Darkwood by M.E. Breen

M.E. Breen
Bloomsbury, 2009
288 pages

I’m not the only geek to observe that young adult fiction has had a really good selection of fantasy and sci-fi, often better than much of what’s presented for entirely-grown-ups. This novel is a good example of that; it’s one of the best fiction reads I’ve had in q good long while (and not just because it has wolves in it!).

Annie is an orphaned girl (no relation to the 20th century comic book character) raised by her aunt and uncle (the latter of whom is no Daddy Warbucks). They live in an area where moonless darkness falls faster than anywhere else, where day turns to night in just a few heartbeats. Out in that darkness are the kinderstalk, massive black wolves that have been known to steal children away, and are the stuff of nightmares. But when her uncle sells her into slavery at a mining operation, she takes the chance to run off into that darkness.

What happens next is a wonderfully fast-paced story. Rather than wasting a lot of time on exposition, Breen does a lovely job of explaining where we are, and why it’s important, as we go there. I really enjoyed her characterization, too; a few of them might have been a little more fleshed out, but given that this is meant for a 9-12 audience, and that it’s a relatively short book, the author did about as well as anyone could, and probably much better. I know that I felt satisfied by the end.

My readers will be interested to note the interesting development of magical powers throughout the book, including a quasi-shamanic human-wolf interrelationship with a curious twist. Plus Annie has a pair of cats as familiars/guardians–what’s not to love about that? And as this is YA, this is a suitable book for youngsters and adults alike, though the latter may find it to be a particularly fast, light read.

Best of all, the ending suggests a potential continuation of the story, so here’s to a sequel! It takes quite a bit for me to latch onto a new author, but this one may just join a small group of authors whose works I look for in the future.

Five pawprints out of five.

Want to buy this book?



  1. M.E. Breen said,

    July 20, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Lupa, thanks for this great review. You made a lot more than just my day. -M.E.

  2. lupabitch said,

    August 5, 2009 at 12:15 am

    You’re quite welcome–I thoroughly enjoyed the read!

  3. Crista said,

    September 12, 2010 at 5:55 am

    This book is wonderfull! I haven’t been able to put it down since I started. Though I can’t seem to figure out what century they are in? It is ouvious that they are not in present times. Anyway, It is a great book and I am excited to find other books by M.E. Breen!!

  4. Erika Miessner said,

    April 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I liked this book very much. It was a little young for me, but I think that M.E. did a great job! 🙂 I hope that he/she makes a sequal.

  5. W said,

    December 24, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Is there a sequel to the book yet?

    • Lupa said,

      December 31, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      Not so far as I’ve seen. You may wish to contact the author and ask.

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