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Darkwater

Review

Darkwater

Sixteen-year-old Sarah Trevelyan is tired of being reminded of what her family lost. She is reminded of it every day when she works as a lowly teacher’s assistant in Darkwater Hall. She’s reminded of it when the townspeople whisper behind her back of the horrible way her family treated others. And Sarah’s reminded of it when her sick father tells her how their family was swindled out of their fortune and Darkwater Hall by a mysterious figure. Sarah was too young to remember when any of this took place, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel the burden of her family’s legacy weighing on her shoulders.

"Fisher does a great job creating a creepy setting  by mixing in a gloomy and ominous mansion, strange characters who seem very shady, and of course that disconcerting moment when you wonder what you would want in exchange for your soul."

If Sarah only had the chance to make things right, everything could be different. Despite this desire to bring back her family’s honor, she is very reluctant to return to Darkwater Hall even after its new owner, Lord Azrael, offers her a job. Lord Azrael is a scientist of sorts who conducts experiments to turn regular medal to gold. He needs an able-bodied assistant, and Sarah seems like the perfect fit. Azrael knows her family history and that she is very interested in striking a deal to help her right her family’s wrongs. A deal with the devil, perhaps? Sarah isn’t sure.

What would you want in exchange for your soul?

The temptation is too great, though, and Sarah agrees. In exchange for her soul, she’ll reclaim possession of Darkwater Hall and get a hundred years to rewrite her family legacy. Lord Azrael disappears --- but promises to return.

A hundred years later, Tom looks longingly at Darkwater Hall much the same way that Sarah did a hundred years earlier. Darkwater Hall is now home a very ritzy private school that Tom would give almost anything to attend. Public school hasn’t been exactly what Tom expected, and he’s sick of being picked on by the local bullies. Tom is surprised when the new chemistry teacher, someone named Azrael, expresses interest in helping him. Azrael is looking for a new assistant to help him turn medal into gold, and Tom seems like the perfect fit. Sound familiar?

With the end of the hundred years approaching, Sarah returns to Darkwater Hall and is dismayed to find Azrael up to his old tricks. She knows her soul may be lost, but that doesn’t mean someone else needs to fall prey to Azrael’s schemes. Will she run out of time before she can help Tom, or will another deal be made with the devil?

I became a huge fan of Catherine Fisher after reading INCARCERON and SAPPHIQUE, and she doesn’t disappoint with her latest effort. Making a deal with the devil isn’t necessarily a new idea, but it’s such an intriguing concept that it’s worth being explored time and time again. Fisher does a great job creating a creepy setting  by mixing in a gloomy and ominous mansion, strange characters who seem very shady, and of course that disconcerting moment when you wonder what you would want in exchange for your soul. Reading this just might make you pause when you someone walking around in a devil costume on Halloween.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on October 12, 2012

Darkwater
by Catherine Fisher