Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Tom Becker
Fiction  Series
For ages 14 and up
Scholastic, 2008   ISBN: 978-0545037396

Jonathan Starling has not had what one might call a normal life. He never knew his mother, and his father has always been a bit strange. Jonathan’s father, Alain, has been ill so many times that Jonathan has grown used to it. Alain has these “turns or episodes” that make it necessary for him to go to a hospital for the mentally ill. Often, when he is in the grip of the illness, Alain talks about how he feels “the darkening.”

Jonathan thinks this “darkening” is his father’s word for his illness, until he discovers a secret that his father has been hiding for years. After his father gets ill, again, and after their home is broken into, Jonathan goes into this father’s study for the first time and he finds out that his father is looking for “a crossing” to some place. Jonathan follows clues that lead him to the British library where he finds a book that mentions a hidden place, “an evil wasteland” in London. The author even describes how he was taken to the place where there was a “gateway” into this terrible world. Jonathan realizes that this gateway is what his father has been seeking.

Then three very strange people try to kidnap Jonathan. He manages to get away, and not knowing what else to do, he goes through the crossing point he read about in the library. He finds himself in Darkside, a hidden London where vampires, werewolves, murderers and other horrors walk the streets. Somehow, he is connected to Darkside, and for some reason people from this terrible place are looking for him. Jonathan has no idea what is going on, but he knows that he has to find out before it is too late.

This is a book that will fascinate and captivate readers. It will also terrify and horrify readers who have a sensitivity to blood-thirsty creatures that lurk in the dark. The story is so beautifully crafted and paced that it is hard not to get caught up by it, and it is hard not to hope that Jonathan will find the answers that he is looking for.