The Griffin of Darkwood by Becky Citra

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Title: The Griffin of Darkwood
Author: Becky Citra
Publisher: Coteau Books
Publication Date: August 15, 2016
Pages: 264
Source: Publisher, ebook

This is the first juvenile fiction I’ve read in a really long time. But when it’s about a boy who has a magic gift – writing stories – I couldn’t resist.

The Griffin of Darkwood follows an imaginative twelve year old, Will Poppy whose life changes dramatically after his mother dies. But not in the way that he originally imagined. The horrible darkness that descends on his life in the form of his Aunt Mauve has caused him to lose his will to create the stories that he once loved. One day, a small package – a cloth with The Griffin of Darkwood on it – is mysteriously delivered to him on a bus. Then, his Aunt Mauve uproots them to a small village where she has just bought Sparrowhawk Hall with an unknown amount of money from an anonymous donor. When they arrive, they are greeted by the castle’s servants, The Cherrys, who are resentful of Will and his aunt’s presence and will do anything to drive them away. The longer they stay, Will learns more about the castle’s bloody history, its link to his own family, and the threat of the Griffin of Darkwood. Can Will outwit the mischievous Cherrys to unlock the secrets of the castle?

Although I enjoyed reading about three kids who use their collective detective skills to uncover the secrets of the castle and the Griffin, the pacing was a little slow for me. But it picked up pace in the middle when Will and his two friends, Emma and Thom, started to search for the secret passageway. Will Poppy is a curious young man who isn’t afraid to question the status quo and uncover the reason for his being at Sparrowhawk Hall. Was it his fate? His sidekicks, Emma and Thom remind me of a milder version of Hermione and Ron from Harry Potter. They are there for support and comic relief but Will is the one who pieces together this Griffin puzzle. The adults living in the castle don’t have any redeeming qualities – Aunt Mauve and the Cherrys are neglectful and motivated by their personal greed. What is most satisfying is that in the end Will Poppy goes back to his true love – writing – and his enemies get what they deserve.

Overall, I would recommend The Griffin of Darkwood for its ability to make you want to search for the truth along with Will and his friends.

*Thank you to Coteau Books for sending me a copy*

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