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Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact (original 2011; edition 2011)

by A. J. Hartley

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10027120,775 (3.59)14
Member:compskibook
Title:Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact
Authors:A. J. Hartley
Info:Razorbill (2011), Hardcover, 438 pages
Collections:Your library, Classroom to MC
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Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact by A. J. Hartley (2011)

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Darwen Arkwright is a young boy from England who comes to live with his wealthy, work-a-holic aunt in America. She enrolls him in a stuffy boarding school where mean kids and mean teachers reign. Darwen is ready to begin life in America with low expectations, until he meets a man named Mr. Peregrine, who introduces him to a whole new world that can be reached through a mirror.
I found this book rather typical and cliché. Portals to different worlds where there are different creatures, unrealistically mean teachers and students, and then the typical nerds vs. popular kids, and good vs. evil. It was a fast read however, despite its length, and was just entertaining enough to keep my interest until the end. Still, it's definitely written for the middle school age. The plot was simple and the characters as well. It seems like Hartley just didn’t have enough details, though the ideas were there.
Recommended for younger children, though I would go with the Charlie Bone series for a bit more advanced/interesting reading... or even better, the Harry Potter series or Bartimaeus Trilogy. ( )
  BrynnV | Nov 24, 2014 |
One of the best children's books I have ever read, and that is saying a lot. The pacing is perfect,. I've ordered the next 2 in the series. ( )
  lori.dremel | Aug 4, 2013 |
Originally posted here.

Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact is an excellent example of middle grade fiction. There are spunky young folks, fantastical situations, evil grownups and adventures galore. I was entertained fully from beginning to end by Hartley's tale. This may be my first experience with Hartley but it surely will not be my last.

Y'all, one of my favorite things is that this book is set in Atlanta. That may not be an important point for most people, but this is my hometown and I loved being able to recognize some landmarks. There wasn't a ton of that, but there was enough to satisfy me. Darwen, who has moved from England to live with his Aunt Honoria, even comments on the absurd number of streets named Peachtree, specifically mentioning one I live super close to! Just in case you're curious, an Allstate billboard has informed me that there are 71 streets named Peachtree in Atlanta, which is less than I would have thought.

The fantasy elements of Darwen Arkwright are most reminiscent of Narnia. Darwen has the rare ability to travel through magic mirrors into alternate worlds. These worlds are completely different from ours, although not precisely like Narnia, but the whole traveling business totally brought that to mind. Towards the end there's an even more specific similarity. Either way, I really like the concept of Narnia, so I was totally cool with all of this.

In the real world, we also have school drama, as poor Darwen struggles to find his place in a pompous new school in his new country. His Aunt, a lawyer, signs him up for an exceedingly privileged academy, where the students are forced to march around and be incredibly obedient. He's behind in all of the coursework and the teachers are almost all completely awful. His English teacher constantly mocks his accent and attempts to train him out of it, claiming he doesn't speak proper English.

None of this sits well with Darwen, who has never been good at fitting in, being mixed race and the only British person in the school. He quickly settles in with the school's other outcasts, albeit somewhat reluctantly. I actually really liked the way the friendships developed in this book, because they weren't immediate and had to be built. Though Darwen and Rick formed a sort of bond right away, Darwen really didn't care for Alexandra for much of the book. To be fair, she's a bit hard to take at first, like Pinkie Pie on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. She's just so incredibly cooky and does what she wants, not caring about the opinions of others unduly.

The cast of characters is one of the most important aspects of any novel, and, if anything, I think this is even more crucial in middle grade fiction, although I couldn't really say why. Hartley's cast is excellent I think. He also avoids a common middle grade issue, which is making the solutions too easy so that the audience is headdesking at the kids' inability to figure anything out. What was cool, too, was that adults literally could not have solved the problem had they been told, because Darwen was the one who could get into the mirror world. Plus, the kids really did have the resourcefulness as a team to figure out what to do. I do think the final battle's resolution was really lame, not to mention clearly drawn from another really popular book, but it wasn't a huge detractor.

Darwen Arkwright had everything that I want out of a middle grade novel: quirky characters, a realistic depiction of school cliques, and humor. If you like middle grade novels, definitely check this one out! ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
Darwen feels a misfit when he moves in with his aunt. Then he sees the flittercrake and meets Mr. Peregrine. When Darwen takes a gift mirror home from Mr. Peregrine's shop, he finds himself looking into another place. Strange adventures begin ( )
  lscottke | Apr 23, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Darwen immediately falls in love with the world through his mirror (as did I). It's lush and quiet and exciting, and he almost immediately makes a new friend. In short, it's nothing like Atlanta, where the weather's hot but the tea is only lukewarm, which is nothing like the small town near Manchester that Darwen used to call home. As things start to go badly in Silbrica (mirror world) and Darwen and his new friends become more involved in finding a solution, the more we find out about Darwen's past and how he ended up in Georgia. He is so very sad and doesn't want to let anyone in. I thought that his issues were just going to be left unresolved once the action in Silbrica got going, but I was happily surprised to see that Silbrica and the "real world" were much more connected than I could have imagined in that and other respects.

Darwen briefly mentions that he has one Black parent and one white, something that, in the past, made him feel like he never belonged in either group. This is not, however, an issue for him at his new school in Atlanta (his newness and lack of familiarity with American football provide more than enough fodder for the bullies). In this prestigious school for which tuition must be paid in advance, class is a much bigger divider than race. In this respect, Darwen should be good -- his aunt is a successful businesswoman, after all -- but his blue-collar Manchester accent (as opposed to a posh one from London) gets in his way. On the other hand, Darwen's friend Alexandra is avoided by everyone because she is just so annoying (so so annoying), and yet approved of by Darwen's aunt (who also finds her exhausting) because of Alexandra's mother's success and refinement. His friend Rich, who is super smart, kind, and polite, is looked down upon by classmates and Darwen's aunt alike because of his family's "white trash" farming background. All three of them feel their outsider status acutely, which is part of why they end up becoming friends even though they have little in common.

All of these real life concerns pale, both in Darwen's mind and in the reading, in comparison to Mr. Peregrine and his mirror shop of gateways to Silbrica. Though the beauty and the magic of the place does not last long for Darwen, he sees enough of it to know that the world on the other side of the mirror is special, that it is a place worth saving, and that he is a part of it. The more horrible the situation gets there and the more horrible the creatures Darwen et. al. encounter, the stronger his determination to save it (and the stronger the intensity of the story) becomes.

This is a really fun, adventurous read. Though it is a bit darker, I think it fits well with other secret-world-in-the-wardrobe-type books, and it will be a good book for readers ready to graduate from those books but not yet ready for the content in older YA fantasies.

Book source: ARC provided by the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. ( )
  lawral | Oct 4, 2011 |
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Book description
Eleven-year-old Darwen Arkwright has spent his whole life in a tiny town in England. So when he is forced to move to Atlanta, Georgia, to live with his aunt, he knows things will be different-but what he finds there is beyond even his wildest imaginings!

Darwen discovers an enchanting world through the old mirror hanging in his closet-a world that holds as many dangers as it does wonders. Scrobblers on motorbikes with nets big enough to fit a human boy. Gnashers with no eyes, but monstrous mouths full of teeth. Flittercrakes with bat-like bodies and the faces of men. Along with his new friends Rich and Alexandra, Darwen becomes entangled in an adventure and a mystery that involves the safety of his entire school. They soon realize that the creatures are after something in our world-something that only human children possess.
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"Eleven-year-old Darwen Arkwright has spent his whole life in a tiny town in England. So when he is forced to move to Atlanta, Georgia, to live with his aunt, he knows things will be different - but what he finds there is beyond even his wildest imaginings! Darwen discovers an enchanting world through the old mirror hanging in his closet - a world that holds as many dangers as it does wonders. Scrobblers on motorbikes with nets big enough to fit a human boy. Gnashers with no eyes, but monstrous mouths full of teeth. Flittercrakes with bat-like bodies and the faces of men. Along with his new friends Rich and Alexandra, Darwen becomes entangled in an adventure and a mystery that involves the safety of his entire school. They soon realize that the creatures are after something in our world - something that only human children possess."--Amazon.com.… (more)

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