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Darkwater by Catherine Fisher
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Darkwater (original 2000; edition 2012)

by Catherine Fisher

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875138,736 (3.47)None
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Title:Darkwater
Authors:Catherine Fisher
Info:Dial (2012), Hardcover, 229 pages
Collections:Your library
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Darkwater Hall by Catherine Fisher (2000)

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Sixteen year old Sarah lives in Victorian times. She is very upset that the loss of her family’s fortune has caused her to slave among the commoners, believing her family’s estate at Darkwater should rightfully be hers. She jumps at the chance to work for Azrael, the current owner, in his study of alchemy.

Read the rest of my review at: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/darkwater-catherine-fisher/

( )
  ShouldIReadIt | Sep 26, 2014 |
A well-written but non-engaging young adult novel. ( )
  Birdo82 | Jul 26, 2014 |
I think Catherine Fisher actually cannot write anything bad -- she is endlessly creative, especially when coming up with interesting twists on old stories, as here. Plus, she creates really involving characters and settings.

I adored this book even though -- (or maybe because?) -- I did not immediately love the heroine, Sarah. She is -- at first -- quite unsympathetic, though you have to feel for her despite this. Her circumstances are so awful, it's no wonder she's rather awful herself!

I also love how Ms. Fishers heroes are rather villainous -- it's very well done. (I hope that's not a spoiler, but I really don't think it is).

On the whole, the most interesting take on the "Faustus" story I've read in quite a while.

Four stars? Maybe that's not fair, because I'm judging this book mostly against the rest of Catherine Fisher's and I pretty much love everything she does. So.. It doesn't match the brilliance of [b:Incarceron|332775|Incarceron (Incarceron, #1)|Catherine Fisher|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327414514s/332775.jpg|323310] or [b:Sapphique|4499214|Sapphique (Incarceron, #2)|Catherine Fisher|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327885488s/4499214.jpg|4548192], but it's definitely still a very good book! ( )
  deirdrea | Apr 4, 2013 |
I've read several books by Catherine Fisher, including the Relic Master series and the Incarceron duology. I've had mixed reactions to her writing in the past. Generally, I have wanted to like them and loved the set up of place and character and world and so on, but felt like the end of the series tended to not fulfill my expectations.

Darkwater is a self-contained book, which I think helped it. We start in the 19th century with Sarah Trevelyn, last of the fallen Trevelyns, once lords of the manor and now trapped in squalor with their former servants. Sarah is spunky and bold, but also proud--one of the pivotal moments early in the book shows clearly that she makes what appear to be compassionate decisions, but that they are based on pride rather than care for her fellow humans.

Darkwater Hall is now owned by Lord Azrael, who won it from Sarah's grandfather in a card game. There is something not-quite-right about him, but when he offers Sarah a chance to come home, she makes a deal with him, despite the warnings of a mysterious tramp who seems to know more than he's telling.

Generally speaking, I liked Darkwater a LOT. Fisher manages to create a very ambiguous situation, drawing on traditional mythologies but doing it in a way that keeps things from becoming clear, rather than the opposite. In a subtle way, this puts us in Sarah's shoes. Who does she trust? Who does she believe in? She can't tell, and neither can we.

The setting is atmospheric and well drawn--the manor with secret passages and hidden rooms. The child of the manor returning to take charge of it again.

Now, when I had just finished the book, I was entirely satisfied with the solution. It had a nice symmetry to it--I don't know how to say it other than that it was satisfying. And then I thought about it a bit more, and I realized that I wanted more reasons for Simon's decision. As it stands, I had trouble with the way he makes his decision. And since that's kind of the linch-pin of the whole resolution, that's an issue. So chalk it up as one that was great when actually reading and then maybe more problematic later.

I think this is my favorite Catherine Fisher book so far, despite the wobbliness of the ending. Sarah, the almost claustrophobic setting, the deft use of symbolism and mythology--Fisher manages to boil her usual strengths down into something that reads as tight and masterful.

Book source: public library
Book information: First US publication by Dial Books, 2012; upper mg/YA

All of my Catherine Fisher reviews ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
At least it wasn't a long book.

I found this to be a disappointing follow-up to Incarceron and Sapphique. While the story had interesting moments, some parts of the mythology were never explained (Why were Tom and Simon in the jar 100 years before they were born? What is Azrael? Why does he need to take a soul?).

To top it off, the ending was weak. ( )
  sboyte | Jan 21, 2013 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803738188, Hardcover)

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?"

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:05:53 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Sixteen-year-old Sarah sells her soul to reclaim her family's estate and is given 100 years to atone for their sins, but as the bargain nears its end, modern-day Tom, yearning to attend the private school that Darkwater Hall has become, gets caught up in the bargain.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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