Jun 27, 2013

Darkwater by Catherine Fisher Review

Darkwater by Catherine Fisher
Release Date: September 27, 2012
Publisher: Dial Books; 240 pages

What would you sell your soul for?

Sixteen-year-old Sarah Trevelyan would give anything to regain the power and wealth her family has lost, so she makes a bargain with Azrael, Lord of Darkwater Hall. He gives her one hundred years and the means to accomplish her objective--in exchange for her soul. Fast-forward a hundred years to Tom, a fifteen-year-old boy who dreams of attending Darkwater Hall School but doesn't believe he has the talent. Until he meets a professor named Azrael, who offers him a bargain. Will Sarah be able to stop Tom from making the same mistake she did a century ago?

This is smart fantasy mixed with elements of horror from master storyteller Catherine Fisher. She says, "Darkwater Hall is an image of the power and knowledge we all desire. But what will we pay for them, and are they worth the price?

I normally don't start reviews talking about the cover, but I feel that in this case the cover sets the tone of the book.  When you pick up this book, a giant gargoyle is staring at you.  Gargoyles kind of scary.  They really creep me out, and make me shiver.  So I knew this book would be dark.  And with a tag line of, "What would you sell your soul for?" as a reader you know this will be serious.

Darkwater tells the story of Sarah Trevelyan.  Sarah was born into a rich and powerful family, but when Sarah was a baby her grandfather gambled all of their riches and their home away to a mysterious Lord Azrael.  For most of Sarah's life she has lived in poverty.  Her clothes are extremely dirty, her father is dying, and she works for a a woman who is extremely cruel.  She meets Azrael and he offers her a job, even though her father begs her not to.  Sarah accepts, and our story begins.

Darkwater asks the question of what would you do to give up poverty?  How much do you gamble?  I personally do not gamble.  I don't gamble because I have a huge fear of addiction.  I have seen people controlled by their addictions, and it is not a fun situation.  Lord Azrael basically offers Sarah everything she wants, but he wants her soul.  I asked myself what would I do if I were in Sarah's situation.  I wondered how much does she really have to lose?  She basically has nothing.  In the end, I don't think I would do it, but I do understand why Sarah did.  Her family's name is a joke in her town.  Her father is dying, and she doesn't have the resources to take care of him.

The second half of the book takes places 100 years in the future.  The deal that Sarah made with Azrael was that he would come for her soul in 100 years.  Now I must admit, I enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first.  It is probably because the second half had better character development than the first.  Azrael is such an interesting character, but as a reader it's hard to get a feel for him.  And even after finishing the book, I do not know if he was truly a villain.

Tom the main character from the second part is much easier for the reader to relate to than Sarah.  Tom is in high school, he is bullied, and is pretty much an outcast.  I like Tom.  There were times that I just wanted to give him a hug.  But some of my favorite scenes were his scenes with Sarah, they were intriguing to read.

I struggled with the rating of this book.  Unfortunately, while the writing of this book is really good.   And the main and subplots are very intruiging.  There were just too many plot holes for me to give this a book a higher rating.  This book leaves you with more questions than answers.

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