12-year-old Emily and her younger brother, William, have been on their own on the streets of London since their parents disappeared in separate incidences. Neither have returned to care for the children, so Emily wakes early each morning to sell watercress on the street, hoping to earn enough money to feed them for the day.
One morning, on her way to pick up her watercress, she comes across what appear to be tiny people, fighting in an alleyway. Emily has stumbled onto an unknown part of reality--the fact that members of the faerie kingdom actually exist among people and are attempting to take over the city.
Emily quickly makes friends with members of The Invisible Order, a secret society who have made it their mission to protect the human world from those in the evil faerie world, and takes on a seemingly impossible fight for both her family and for the good of humans. Add in a really great mystery and this is one pretty awesome book!
Emily is such a likable character, you're going to get pulled into her internal battle immediately. Author Paul Crilley has managed to create a whole lineup of interesting, well-written characters, but most of all, you're going to love Emily and her story. There's even a bit of humor with some of the characters, which keeps the darkness of the setting and overall plot moving at a readable pace.
Combining a huge amount of magic and fantasy and blending it with a setting of Victorian England couldn't have been easy, but each part of the story is presented in a realistic manner...one you'll believe and easily fall into. I had been needing a good, middle grade fantasy read for awhile, especially with my presence on this year's Cybils YA panel guaranteeing to take up ALL of my MG reading time, and this hit the spot.
There is a complexity to the story that isn't often found in middle grade fantasy books. Emily learns that trusting people quickly can lead to a horrible outcome and that a lot of the people she comes in contact with have more of a personal agenda than a desire for overall good. She must use her instincts to get herself out of tight spots and discover who really is good in the world.
I really enjoyed this one! I'm not a huge fan of the cover, but that's just a personal issue (I'm picky when it comes to covers, let's face it), but I was really impressed with the characterization and the fact that I didn't want to put it down, I needed to know what happened next. Definitely a fast read, one I would hand to fantasy fans AND reluctant readers.
The Invisible Order: Rise of the Darklings
Review copy provided by publisher