The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs
Everyone in Timbers knows Still Cove is off-limits, with its creepy Beast sightings and equally terrifying legends. But when a bullying incident sends twelve-year-old Nico Holland over a cliff and into Still Cove’s icy waters, friends Tyler and Emma–and even Opal Walsh, who usually runs with the popular kids–rush to his rescue . . . and discover a mysterious island hiding in the murky, swirling mists below.
Though the island appears uninhabited, the kids can’t shake a feeling that something about it is definitely not right. Their suspicions grow when they stumble upon an abandoned houseboat filled with all sorts of curiosities: odd-looking weapons, unnerving portraits, maps to unknown places, and a glass jar containing something completely unidentifiable. And in its lowest depths churns a dark, deep secret.
As the group delves deeper into this mysterious new clubhouse, their lives begin to intertwine in weird and dangerous ways. For something ancient has awakened . . . and it can detect not only their wishes and dreams, but also their darkest, most terrible imaginings. Do they have what it takes to face the shadowy secrets lurking within their own hearts?
When his new drone crashes into the cove, Nico goes after it, despite the danger. His friends follow, and they stumble upon an abandon cabin on an island. Here, they find the Darkdeep that brings their darkest fears to life for a time. At first, it’s a novelty. But then, something begins to change.
The Darkdeep is a dark fantasy for middle readers. It’s narrated from alternating characters, which helps the reader feel what they feel. Nico feels bullied and betrayed. And Opal has a good heart, but is a bit naive when it comes to her friends. People have compared this to Stranger Things, and I can see it – the dark, creepy feel and group of kids who are in over their heads. But this is definitely not scary. It’s more silly, though still deals with drama, friendship, and bullying. There is plenty of suspense and mystery. And readers are left with more questions than answers by the end – hopefully to be resolved in a sequel before too long.