Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep


It’s tradition that the Darks hold the position of Watchers from their Tower in Watchers’ Loft, Sundown Watch. It is the way that Wildsea Island is safe from the Gorm, for the Watcher knows that glimpses of her Hidden Isles during the gaps in time, signify her return. Thereafter, all on Wildsea Island fear and respect the sea, other than Thurza Froy, who plans to return to plough its treasures and recover her drowned husband.

So what happens when Andrew Dark, who assumes the Watcher role from his late brother, refutes all the truths of his island birthplace? Thereafter, when he’s dragged back from his London life, he is dubious and takes his duties lightly and resentfully. However, the strange child who Andrew Dark finds living in his family home is made differently. Who is this girl whom his late brother allegedly found as a baby and has raised as his own? It seems she sees things, feels things and is convinced the Gorm is on the rise. What’s more, she’s acting as Assistant Watch, convinced that Andrew’s attitude spells disaster for the island.

Utterly Dark is not the only one concerned about Andrew Dark, for while the sea witch seeks to take advantage of his weakness, the strange antlered woman is at pains to convince him of the error of her ways. She has an inkling about Utterly’s origins. However, when Andrew Dark’s skepticism diverts into recklessness, it seems that he must face more than warnings…. What’s more, it seems that Utterly’s feelings, warnings and discoveries reveal more than she could ever imagine.

Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep is a magnificent novel for middle grade readers, full of convincing folklore, a wonderful, imaginable setting and characters, and a fully absorbing story.

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Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep

Philip Reeve

(David Fickling Books)

It seems that the absence of a Watcher calls for Utterly’s service as an Assistant Watcher. After all, hasn’t she watched Mr Dark’s climb to the Tower room in Watcher’s Loft every night? She knows how the Dark’s family role is to be the Watchers over Wildsea Island, monitoring the rise of the Gorm. It seems that sightings of the Hidden Lands signal the Gorm’s return.
Yet what if the Dark’s next Watcher is sceptical about the stories of Wildsea Island? Could it be that he’s in thrall to the science and  society of London so that only a legal call draws him to return to his birthplace? Then again, what will he make of his late brother’s strange child, the girl he found on the beach? Utterly’s ways fascinate him although his disbelief concerns her. Thereafter she seeks guidance from the strange antler-headed woman who approached her at her guardian’s funeral. What do her warnings mean? It seems she is aware of something stirring in the seas, and believes Utterly’s feelings and foreboding.
How far will Andrew Dark’s disbelief go? Might he break every rule to prove himself and put Wildsea Island in jeopardy? Thereafter, is it possible the Gorm could be roused, but for an unknown reason, hidden away in a pouch, in a locked box at the top of the Tower?
Philip Reeve has created a truly enchanting, richly layered, empathetic and magical story in Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep. From stories such as The Legend of Kevin with his collaborator Sarah McIntyre, he returns to something otherworldly, mystical, possible and quite wonderful. Bookwagon loves this title and recommends it highly to middle grade readers.


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