Book Reviews

A Review: The Darkhouse

The Darkhouse, Barbara Radecki

“Fifteen-year-old Gemma’s life on a small New Brunswick island with her father, Jonah, is not an exciting one. Her mother ran off when she was an infant, and Jonah, an amateur scientist, spends most of his time conducting experiments he thinks will one day bring him fame. But when a woman arrives on the island, Gemma tries to play matchmaker—only to discover Jonah’s secret journals, which hold terrifying secrets about both their lives.”

Truth #1: I just noticed now that this is listed as a young adult novel. Other than the protagonist being a young adult, I would not have pegged it. There are some adult themes, but, introspect, they were dealt with in non-confrontational ways.

Truth #2: Barbara is my instructor at UofT and I love her and her class.

Truth #3: I would recommend this book for anyone even given truth #1 and #2.

I read this book at lightning speed. I was supposed to be writing my own manuscript (spoiler alert) and doing homework for Barbara’s class, but I could not put this one down. Yes, that is cliche, but sometimes cliches are the right words. It has elements of horror, thriller, mystery, and coming of age. It is also set in Canada, which is exciting for us Canucks.

Gemma is a wonderful protagonist. She’s the only child on a remote island, immersed in a world of adults, but still finds a way to be a kid. She has crushes, an imaginary friend, seeks out school where there is none, and helps her father who does not provide warmth or connection. Even with her unconventional upbringing, Gemma manages to be a likable well-rounded and smart girl. Her ingenuity, athleticism, curiosity, and capacity for love hurl her into an accidental world of intrigue that threatens to destroy her future and her past.

YA be damned. This is a great read not to be reserved for the young. You read Harry Potter, didn’t you? Time to pick up another YA page-turner and feel young at heart.

Barbara’s words are carefully selected and you can feel the hard edits worth every agonizing minute. Warning: Do not pick up this book if you have something urgent to do. Sit with a tea, prepare for the ride, and thank me later.


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